8 Important Shifts That Can Keep Your Brand Relevant and Meaningful in Uncertain Times

8 Important Shifts That Can Keep Your Brand Relevant and Meaningful in Uncertain Times

Brands continue to play an important role in people’s lives, and studies show that during a crisis – like now – they offer reassurance and a sense of comfort. From car manufacturers to restaurants, healthcare systems to hotels, brands are shifting their messaging to offer readiness, reassurance, safety, and even new ideas on delivering their products and services.  It’s amazing how quickly they’ve been able to turnaround their messaging and production strategies!  Already, there are best practices being established and amplified throughout the branding and advertising industries. The following are strategies you can act on quickly to keep your brand relevant and meaningful during these stressful, game-changing times: 1. Communicate in an empathetic tone Start by acknowledging that your audience is experiencing losses and lifestyle changes in ways never felt before. Great brands have relationships with their consumers, and now is the time to communicate from the heart. 2. Production values can be simple There isn’t the time or the luxury of resources to pour into new brand executions.  The idea is to connect quickly with your customers and let them know you’re there for them in whatever ways are most meaningful.   There have been excellent new commercials featuring infographics, re-purposed video content, and simple interview formats. 3. Corporate/social responsibility is every brand’s responsibility If there’s ever a good time to be a great corporate citizen, it’s now. Informing people of how your brand is supporting social distancing, its employees, and safety regulations is paramount to being relevant.  Creatively, it can also be unique; McDonald’s, Coke, and others are among those finding interesting ways to convey social responsibilities. 4. A special “shout out” to your employees For essential businesses, especially in healthcare, a little recognition goes a long way!  There are real heroes out there, working tirelessly and risking their lives, and they should be acknowledged. 5. Shift engagement to today’s channels It’s rare that consumers are (almost) always at home and resorting to more traditional media vehicles and channels. News ratings are exploding (of course) and readership of social media – even email – is up as well.  There are many details to provide in terms of how your organization and brand is responding to the current situation and there’s a good chance they’re being read. 6. Educate your audience around operations that keep them safe Safety is near and dear to everyone. Whether you’re setting up testing sites outside your hospital or providing contact-less interactions in drive-thru’s and grocery stores, it’s imperative to communicate the operational changes your products and services are making to keep your customer’s as safe as possible.  Tele-health has never been more popular and will create a new normal when this storm clears. 7. Embrace remote collaboration and virtual “events” Your brand can still engage its customer’s – you just have to do it on their turf, not yours. It’s amazing how many great, creative ways there are to interact with consumers using videos, apps, and constant updates to your website. 8. Your website has never been more important With “extra” time and the need for up-to-date information on your brand – especially among service organizations – your web traffic must be exploding. Make sure it’s up-to-date, accurate, and you’re letting your customers know how you’re dealing with this crisis.   When challenged, marketing leaders and brand innovators rise above with creative solutions. This current situation just faces us to think differently, talk empathetically, and connect in new ways.  Keep innovating and be safe! Click here to learn more about Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy and how to keep your brand...
So, What CAN Brands Do Now?

So, What CAN Brands Do Now?

8 important shifts that can keep your brand relevant and meaningful in uncertain times. As people find themselves risking their own health to help others or sheltering-in-place to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, brands can provide reassurance in unique and thoughtful ways. From car manufacturers to restaurants, healthcare systems to hotels, brands are shifting their messaging to offer reassurance, safety, and even new ideas on delivering their products and services.  It’s amazing how quickly they’ve been able to turnaround their messaging and production strategies!  Already, there are best practices being established and amplified throughout the branding and advertising industries. The following are strategies you can act on quickly to keep your brand relevant and meaningful during these stressful, game-changing times: Communicate in an empathetic tone – start by acknowledging that your audience is experiencing losses and lifestyle changes in ways never felt before. Great brands have relationships with their consumers, and now is the time to communicate from the heart. Production values can be simple – there isn’t the time or the luxury of resources to pour into new brand executions.  The idea is to connect quickly with your customers and let them know you’re there for them in whatever ways are most meaningful.   There have been excellent new commercials featuring infographics, re-purposed video content, and simple interview formats. Corporate/social responsibility is every brand’s responsibility – if there’s ever a good time to be a great corporate citizen, it’s now. Informing people of how your brand is supporting social distancing, its employees, and safety regulations is paramount to being relevant.  Creatively, it can also be unique; McDonald’s, Coke, and others are among those finding interesting ways to convey social responsibilities. A special “shout out” to your employees – For essential businesses, especially in healthcare, a little recognition goes a long way!  There are real heroes out there, working tirelessly and risking their lives, and they should be acknowledged. Shift engagement to today’s channels – it’s rare that consumers are (almost) always at home and resorting to more traditional media vehicles and channels. News ratings are exploding (of course) and readership of social media – even email – is up as well.  There are many details to provide in terms of how your organization and brand is responding to the current situation and there’s a good chance they’re being read. Educate your audience around operations that keep them safe – safety is near and dear to everyone. Whether you’re setting up testing sites outside your hospital or providing contactless interactions in drive-thru’s and grocery stores, it’s imperative to communicate the operational changes your products and services are making to keep your customer’s as safe as possible.  Telehealth has never been more popular and will create a new normal when this storm clears. Embrace remote collaboration and virtual “events” – your brand can still engage its customer’s – you just have to do it on their turf, not yours. It’s amazing how many great, creative ways there are to interact with consumers using videos, apps, and constant updates to your website. Your website has never been more important – with “extra” time and the need for up-to-date information on your brand – especially among service organizations – your web traffic must be exploding. Make sure it’s up-to-date, accurate, and you’re letting your customers know how you’re dealing with this crisis. When challenged, marketing leaders and brand innovators rise above with creative solutions. This current situation just faces us to think differently, talk empathetically, and connect in new ways.  Keep innovating and be...
Important Lessons for Marketers – and their Agencies – During this Time of Crisis

Important Lessons for Marketers – and their Agencies – During this Time of Crisis

While social distancing is the new normal, there are some important lessons marketers, and their agencies, can learn from other crises in the not so distant past. Different times require different actions. 1. You have to make course corrections on your media spend and messaging. This is not the time to bombard consumers with messages totally unrelated to the topic at hand and top of mind; they’re not in the mood to listen. Organizations and brands that merely “stay the course,” not making any adjustments,  are pouring dollars down the drain.  One might argue that “my funny commercial” or “new brand video” is just what the doctor ordered, but studies of past social crises indicate that people just can’t get enough news and information about CV-19 right now.  They don’t want to be “enlightened” by other messages while their energies are fixed on the problem. 2. You should stay in the market, but in relevant and appropriate ways. Studies also show that during recessions, and social/economic disasters, advertisers should not go completely dark.  Loss of awareness and market momentum requires as much as five times the normal spend to make up for lost ground when footing becomes more solid.  So, it’s important to stay out there, but in relevant ways.  Virtual “situation rooms” with your full team are essential to talk through and take corrective measures with your messaging and channeling, especially in social media.  How your brand is responding to CV-19 and  how it’s engaging your marketplace is mission critical.  3. Now is not the time to introduce a new brand or campaign. Can’t tell you how many LinkedIn and other social media posts have focused on bringing something “new” to the market.  You might have had the big launch planned for months, even a year, but now is not the time to press the button.  All that hard work will be lost in the noise and confusion surrounding the CV-19 virus.  Besides, internal communications are key to a new launch, and with so many people working from home, best to wait it out and pick the right time.  When the dust settles, you’ll be glad you did. 4. Now is not the time to force a client meeting or action. I know this sounds obvious, but agency people are persuasive types.  That’s why we are in the business.  I’ve scanned many LinkedIn posts from those on the client side who seem to be hugely annoyed at their agency right now for repeatedly calling and requesting a (virtual) meeting to “keep the ball moving.”  What I’m reading that appears to be sitting well with clients:  letting  them know you’re here for them and if they need anything, you’re operational and able to help them through this crisis personally and professionally. 5. It’s also not the time to send solicitous emails.  Like you, I’ve probably received over a hundred emails these last few days from companies selling their services.  Not in reference to the virus, not as a solution to my current business needs, and not in any way/shape/form related to what’s happening in the world.  From music searches to “new” direct mail lists, this is not the time to sell me something – I’m not buying!  Oh, and I do appreciate your “sincere” well wishes for me and my family during these troubling times, as indicated in your email.  Do I know you? HOW YOU ACT NOW WILL DETERMINE HOW I’LL ACT IN THE FUTURE. 6. Agency folks: It’s not business as usual.  Your clients are struggling and being torn in many different directions to weather this storm.  If you have great relationships with them, be empathetic and let them know you’re there for them (#4).  Put your skills to use in relevant ways and think about how you can provide a true value add.  Think creatively, not in terms of big ideas and ads,  but in new ideas and business solutions  that will benefit your clients during the storm. You’ll see – when their world calms down, they’ll remember who was there for them. 7. Client folks: We know you’re not ignoring us. You’re probably working from home, too, with many distractions and new fires that require your attention.  We know you’re not paying as much attention to meeting reports and proposals, so we’re going to go easy on you. Challenge us to help you through these difficult times.  Don’t feel you need to do it all “in-house” and have the belief that your agency partner is not interested in the ‘small stuff.’ We are here for you and have your personal and professional best interests in mind.  While you’re dealing with the pressures of sales goals and customer volumes, we’re using our time to learn new ideas and remedies that might be helpful to you. 8. We will all get through this together. At the time of this writing, there’s not much good news to report.  The virus is rising in reported cases and the market is falling.  Businesses are struggling and employee wages are in question, if not non-existent. We are all in this together and as history has proven, we’ll make it through this together.  With every crisis comes a new normal.  I’m not sure what that will be yet, but perhaps it’s the way we view our partnerships, work, and cultural surroundings as well as professional sensitivities. There’s a fast-growing plant-based food chain, Plant Power Fast Food (plantpowerfastfood.com) that has always been a great community citizen in the markets they serve.  They have a very strong mission and cultural compass.  To help support their employees during this difficult time, they are selling tee-shirts and the proceeds are going directly to their staff.  The shirts don’t tout their amazing sandwiches and creative concoctions – but share a message that I’ll leave you with: Be good to yourself.  Be good to...
Want to Add Value to Your Medical Society Members . . . Brand Them!

Want to Add Value to Your Medical Society Members . . . Brand Them!

Medical societies and associations exist to add value to their members through education, networking and providing other resources to support personal and professional growth. This is why professionals join and pay their annual membership fees. As competition in every medical field and specialty heats up, members are demanding more from society leadership; specifically marketing to consumers and referral sources to help them distinguish their expertise and build their practice (aka “Branding”). Often, patients (and other professionals) are confused over what different medical specialists do and branding your members will help provide clarity and growth. This is where medical societies can add value. From our experience, branding members and their specialty has become one of the top requests from society leaderships. So, where do you start? Start with research, to gain insight into the following: Vision – where do your members see themselves now and in the future? Equity – what are the unique capabilities and greatest benefits your members bring to patient care? Perceptions – how do patients, referral sources and other providers, hospital administrators and payors perceive your members? Access – what are the patient/referral pathways for your members? This will help you determine the audiences for your message. Communication – how do your target audiences keep up on medical and peer information? Once you understand where your members want to go and challenges that may be involved in getting them there, you can start to develop a unique brand strategy – position and value proposition – for them. A strong brand for your medical society members will: Differentiate them in a crowded and confusing marketplace Elevate their specialty in the healthcare landscape Resonate with target audiences Align with the society’s and member’s strategic goals and plans Be sustainable This last point is where many medical societies fall off – they budget and strategize for how to build their member’s brand, but fail to develop the methodologies to sustain and carry the initiative forward. Building a strong brand for your members is never one and done.  Be sure to nurture and support it over time. Once you have established a unique position, value proposition and the creative messaging to bring your medical society member’s “story” to market, your society’s efforts will inspire and fuel preference (and business) for your members – now that’s adding value! To learn more about how Springboard has helped medical societies and associations add value for their medical society members, visit www.springboardbrand.com or email me at...
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