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Coronavirus & Brands. How Should Brands Communicate During the Crisis?

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Valentina Gómez Bravo
@wearebunker58

Let’s talk about how to best handle the Coronavirus crisis from a brand standpoint. Personal and Commercial brands no matter the size of your business need to know how to handle this situation.
Our founder, CEO and CCO Valentina Gomez Bravo did a couple of videos in English and Spanish covering this conversation and we’d like to share the transcript with you. You can watch the full videos at the end of the article.

Hi everybody. I hope you’re having a great day. I wanted to stop by and answer some of the questions that we’ve received about what to do from a branding standpoint when a crisis like this one happens. The Coronavirus is now officially a global pandemic, so businesses have been scrambling a little bit around how to manage this crisis both internally and externally.

We’ve seen giant brands like Starbucks, Google, NFL, NBA, Ikea, temporarily shutting down operations and events for safety reasons, but there are still a lot of questions on how to best handle the situation from a branding standpoint. No matter the size of your business or your brand, it is very important that you know how to handle a situation like this. So, I’m here to answer your questions and give you a little bit of information and start a conversation about what that looks like.

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Valentina Gomez Bravo. I am the founder and creative director of Bunker +58 Branding & Design Studio. We are a studio dedicated to working with entrepreneurs, small businesses and influencers to grow their brand, monetize their message and make a difference in the world. We provide modern brand design and implementation, social media strategy and brand consulting services; which is why today we are answering your questions.

I want to talk a little bit about how should brands communicate during this Coronavirus crisis. So whether you have a personal brand or a commercial brand, it’s essential to be mindful of no matter what your business’s priorities are, which of course include staying in business; anything that you do must align with your company’s brand identity and values.

Use your Brand values as your compass

Prioritizing profit or publicity at the wrong time may seem opportunistic. So I would refrain or advise you to refrain from using the Coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to sell more. I know it might sound tricky, but it is something that we need to be mindful of. Let’s just be there for our people. It’s important to be mindful of others. And again, as I said, make sure that whatever we put out there, reflects our company values. That is of the utmost importance.

Consistency and Timing

Brands, and especially global brands, need to ensure that whatever communications they put out there are consistent and also timely, not just with their consumers, but also with their teams, employees, and coworkers so that they can ensure all of the company’s stakeholders, whether internal or external, have the information that they need so they can feel supported and safe.

Take care of your Credibility

As brands, we need to be careful about what we say because our credibility is always at stake. So please only reference authorized information and sources either from the government or from health organizations that we know are true and confirmed. It’s very important that all of our communications are simple, transparent, and most of all fact-based. We don’t want to feed into this crazy of Coronavirus misinformation and we want to make sure that whatever we put out there as our brands is correct and actually helpful for others.

Talk about what’s relevant to your Audiences

So you might ask yourself, what do I talk about? Depending on what you do in your business, you will have several different things to address in a moment like this. So, for example, we should all talk about how will a situation like this affects your business procedures and processes like pickups, deliveries, production times.

If your work is project-based, what’s the client’s project status at this point and how can this crisis affect that? Or if you provide a service, are you still going to provide that service? how is that going to change? It’s important that we manage not only our employees’ expectations but also our client’s expectations of what’s going to happen. There’s a lot of “what ifs” and a lot of questions out there and you should clarify what will happen with their projects, where their relationship with you will be like during this time. It’s about keeping our client’s mind at ease in regards to what’s going to happen with whatever service, product or project they already have ongoing with us. This is going to help a lot.

Also, if, let’s say you are somebody that provides a product, what is the resource availability? Will you be open? Will you still be able to provide your product? Will there be any delays in the process? Will there be any changes in the scope of the projects? Any changes in the process or the results of your services or products? Again, expectation management.

Consider any and all potential legal matters or repercussions

It is going to be critical to keep people at ease as to what is going to happen regarding their relationship with your brand. For anything that needs any legal counsel or that raises questions about how any of this might affect your business from a legal standpoint, I suggest that you talk to a professional about this. We are not lawyers, but we do advise you to go talk to one. This is not the time to guess. If you don’t have a business lawyer you can talk to, please let us know. We’ll be happy to give you some recommendations.

Share what you’ve been up to and how you can help!

How are you contributing to or helping the community during this time? And again, we don’t want to be “salesy” during this process. If you provide any products or services that might have something to do with the Coronavirus crisis, it’s important that you’re very mindful of how you phrase it and how you talk about it so it doesn’t sound like you’re are trying to get praise or trying to take advantage of the situation.

Lead by Example

Lead by example. Brands have a really, really important role and an important responsibility in our community. So we do need to be mindful of what we say and how we act during these times. People are looking out to see what others do as a reference. So we want to make sure that we are a good example and that we embody the values of our brand and we act accordingly.

Practice Empathy, Engagement, and Education

There are three things that I would invite you to keep in mind when you’re talking to your audience. Number one is to remember to be empathetic. The tone of our communications should be understanding, cautious, optimistic, and with trust in the future so that we avoid creating panic and also reminding people that everybody is here to work together and to find solutions to the situation that we’re going through.

Another important thing is to engage our audience, whether that is an internal audience, like employees and coworkers, or if we’re talking about our external audience, which would be our clients or our followers, we want to make sure that we’re inspiring confidence in our brand and how our brand is going to manage this situation. We want to make sure that we’re consistent with our actions and that we’re offering support and in any way we can.

And last but not least, using our channels to educate our audiences is critical to this situation so that people have information and we don’t just keep them wondering what’s going on. Share any steps that you’re taking to manage the crisis, educate them on procedures, educate them on what to do, this way we show our care and support. It’s always important to make sure that, again, all of this plays into our values as a brand. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t sell a product or a service if you’re an employed professional, you also have a brand to take care of and to manage. So, when we’re on social media and when we’re sharing information, um, from a personal account, not speaking from the business but speaking for ourselves or speaking as professionals or to our peers and our families, just be mindful to be empathetic, engage, and be educational and talk about facts.

Take control of your narrative and reputation

Whatever we put out there is a reflection of us. So make sure that your communications, your social media posts, anything that you have out there that comes from you are in line with your values and with the way that you want people to perceive you. Taking care of your brand is in your hands at moments like these.

Timing and Frequency

Be careful with spamming or saturating your audience. We’ve been getting a lot of comments from people feeling overwhelmed with Coronavirus related spam. Everybody is sending communications out right now regarding what to do or what’s happening. So be mindful that you will not be the only one sending out this type of communications. We don’t want to spam our people’s inbox or direct messages or saturate an audience that’s already full and filled with information coming from everywhere.

Let’s prioritize who we talk to. Let’s first talk to people that are actively involved in our business, our employees, our coworkers, our active clients. After we cover those spaces, then we can go and talk to our prospective clients or audiences in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming. So, again, first active involved actors and then the rest.

One last thing I want to put out there is to invite you to think on a global scale and embrace an inclusive mindset. The Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate, so we shouldn’t either. Let’s be mindful of who we are, what we stand for and how we want to be remembered after this. Our brand is our reputation, so we want to take care of it.

If you have any questions regarding this, please reach out. You can email us at info@bunker58.com or reach out through our social media channels. We’re here to answer any questions and help in any way we can.

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