Brands Need to Shift Messaging Today

Brian McHale

CEO and Owner
time for change

As brands try to figure out how to navigate what’s before us, I can’t help but think about how differently brands need to act today versus what they’ve done during past struggles. People who worked with me through the Great Recession heard me refer often to the “upside of down.” At that time, much of what we thought of as the “upside” had to do with pricing strategy. How do we capitalize on reduced media prices due to decreased demand? We also talked about messaging strategy. Should you discount to “buy” some business? Or hold true to your core value proposition? How would that impact your brand over the long haul?

Today we’re faced with a much different situation. We’re not only talking about economic issues, we’re actually talking life and death for some. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, can also produce an “upside of down” of sorts for brands. This time the “upside” isn’t about making deals or creating incentives to purchase. Brands should be using this time to communicate in a transparent way. Brands should be trying to help their communities if they have the means. Brands should demonstrate genuine care for their customers and employees.

Yes, brands obviously need to first and foremost survive, stay open when possible and make some money so they can weather this storm. Yes, that may mean doing some discounting or creating some incentives to attract business. But if it ends up being only about the business, the brand will miss a real upside opportunity of showing who that brand really is and how much they appreciate their employees and their loyal customers.

Some examples include: a local pizza restaurant in the northeast donating pizzas twice per day to local healthcare workers even though their business is down 50%; a national QSR turning their social media presence into a place for positivity so they can spread good news during an otherwise tense time; grocery stores designating special times for senior citizens to shop safely; an auto manufacturer offering payment relief for people who lose their jobs due to COVID-19.

Brands spent a lot of time pre-COVID talking about purpose. If a brand can’t lead with purpose now, will they ever?

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