Adapting your Brand Messaging During Times of Disruption

How can you adjust the message you send to your customers and clients during a crisis?

06/17/2020
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brand messaging during a crisis

This post originally appeared on the Nimble Thinkers blog, The Nimble Fix. Nimble Thinkers, part of Scranton Gillette Companies, is a full-service marketing agency led by industry experts experienced in consumer, trade and channel strategy and content marketing.

“Know your audience” is a basic tenet of any marketing strategy. In these troubling and complicated times, brand leaders will need to take stock to define their target audience and to understand what messages will resonate with customers who are dealing with their own personal and professional upheavals.

From evaluating your overall messaging to reviewing products and services to ensure you are adding value for your customers, empathy and honesty, as well as a consistent communications plan, will go a long way. While every situation will be unique, marketing experts across the board seem to agree on a few fundamental steps you can take now.

Evaluate your current messaging

Do the tone and content echo the sentiment your customers are experiencing? During times of crisis, it is particularly important to take a serious look at how your brand is communicating with your customers. Especially crucial is to be cognizant of anything that will be viewed as insincere, opportunistic or flippant. Watch out for language or visuals that might emphasize crowds or handshaking, for example, and certainly don’t use the crisis as a sales pitch.

Review the value your products and services bring

Brands should be looking at their current product and service offerings to gauge the value in light of the current situation. What role can your brand play in helping customers meet their needs? Twitter Next published a recent article advising companies to “know your brand,” explaining that each business should be examining its own offerings to determine the “unique role your brand plays in people’s lives, how that has changed, and how your brand can help or be useful during this crisis.”

This time of self-reflection also presents an opportunity for companies to “lead by example, and do the right thing, where it makes sense for your business.” Some brands, regardless of the industry, are showing their value to the community at large by making donations of products, services or cash to help support those in need due to the pandemic, sending a message of positivity and humanitarianism.

Pivot messaging to meet the situation

You may find yourself asking, “Do our customers even want to hear from us?” As reported in a Harvard Business School posting, Edelman, a global communications firm, conducted a study including 12,000 consumers from 12 countries battling the pandemic. The firm asked that very question, and the results showed that customers do, indeed, want to hear from the brands they deal with, “but only when that communication is comforting and reassuring to them, and provides specific information about what brands are doing to respond to the pandemic.”

In effect, customers are open to brand messaging when it’s relatable. Acknowledge the situation and the anxiety customers are feeling, and reassure them by outlining what specific actions you are taking to help their businesses and the world at large.

Map out a consistent messaging strategy 

By taking the steps outlined above and considering the unique value your brand brings to your customers, you can begin to build a content strategy that resonates. This includes not just the message itself, but also the timing and frequency. Map out what you want to say, and when you want to say it. Consider what your priorities are, what platforms you will use to share your content, and who on your team (or outside professionals) will create your content. Last, and perhaps most important: be ready to adapt by constantly re-evaluating your messaging to ensure it is helping you connect with your customers. They’re waiting to hear from you.

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