And it’s not just how the businesses are able to operate that has been impacted – the lockdowns has caused a shift in consumer behaviour, meaning that those businesses that have been able to pivot, or even simply keep the lights on, have had to shift the way they reach their target customers.
And it is the challenge of how to market themselves differently using a new set of predominantly digital parameters and tools that has produced some surprisingly innovative results.
To highlight some innovative and exciting campaigns that have really worked and to inspire you to adopt some of their strategies for your own business, we thought we’d bring you examples of brands that have really pushed the envelope in response to Covid-19.
1. Building a sense of community
One of the key things about surviving a crisis is to unify communities to stand together. Renowned drinks brand Guinness did just this ahead of St Patrick’s Day in March. As people were unable to celebrate in the usual festive way, Guinness developed and released a video showing people celebrating from various years gone by, and drove home the strong message that standing together and being with loved ones was the most important thing during this difficult time, and that Guinness’s long history would mean it would be around to celebrate next year again.
The video, released on social media, was an absolute hit with over 700 000 views on YouTube, a high ‘favourability’ score, and a very high ‘share’ rate amongst those who’d seen it.
The message: create a sense of community and share the message that you stand with and support your customers. Let them know you’ll be there for them when things return to normal, and they’ll respond positively.
2. Use what you have to the benefit of others
Scottish craft beer brand BrewDog took a unique view of things as the need for hand sanitiser skyrocketed, particularly for frontline healthcare and other emergency support staff.
The brewing company used its brewing machinery and resources to produce a brand of hand sanitiser called Punk… and then proceeded to donate it to staff who needed it most, for free.
Founder James Wyatt said they were determined to do what they could to help and support the staff fighting the virus, and to keep as many people safe as possible. The initiative was picked up and adopted by other breweries and distilleries around the world, helping to elevate the sense of community once again.
Added to this, BrewDog continued to connect with followers on social platforms, with words of encouragement, news from their own team and updates from friends and fans around the UK and world.
The message: If you’re able to provide a practical solution to a problem and help your community, as well as inspire others to do the same, you’ll build an incredibly strong affinity and trust not only with existing customers, but with new customers too.
3. Keep your customers engaged with practical alternatives
Sports apparel and equipment giants Nike took a refreshing stance on the lockdown by giving free training workouts, useful content and expert guidance to its App users, reinforcing its ‘You can’t stop us’ campaign that encouraged people to stay home, stay safe and stay active. Under the message ‘Play for the World’, Nike inspired its customers to unite with the brand (and its many famous ambassadors) and support the stay-at-home movement whilst keeping fit.
The message: Giving your customers something they can use immediately that keeps them happier and allows them to do what they enjoy, even under new circumstances, will win you a customer for life.
4. Reinforce positive messages to show your global support
Toy manufacturer Lego added its significant weight to the ‘stay at home and sanitise’ messages being promoted by governments, health care providers and others during the crisis by creating a series of educational videos aimed at children.
Lego urged kids to play their part and be superheroes in the fight against Covid-19, helping parents educate their kids in a fun, engaging and inspiring way.
The message: Inclusive messaging that reinforces positive ideals builds a sense of community, affinity and loyalty. What values does your company hold that can be linked to a global message of positivity? Link the two and create content that reinforces that message.
5. Help your customers survive financially if you can
This may not be possible for all businesses but if you’re a business that has some leeway, and you’re able to help your customers by extending credit terms without penalty, the customers you help will very likely remain extremely loyal to your brand once they’re back up and running.
As an example, Ford extended payment support to its US-based customers during the crisis through its Built to Lend a Hand campaign – through the campaign, customers who financed their vehicles through Ford had their first three months’ payments covered by Ford themselves, and a further three months payment deferment to help them build up cash reserves for other needs.
They also rewarded dealers who helped customers with service needs during the outbreak, helping to build a full value chain for the brand across the USA.
If you’re able to impact your customer directly when they need it most, they’ll pay you back with loyalty, ongoing support and their hard-earned money when they’re able to afford it again.
So there you have it, a range of innovative brand campaigns that should hopefully inspire your marketing strategy going forward.
And remember, Covid-19 will eventually recede, but building loyalty through practical solutions, empathy, and showing support for your communities will remain key strategies for you to adopt and implement long into the future.