We are in the midst of a raging forest fire – one that will permanently change our world. As COVID-19 wreaks worldwide havoc, racial inequity divides our nation, the economy dives and unemployment spikes, brands are left wondering how, when, and whether to respond.
Despite the devastation fires cause, they also allow the strongest trees to thrive by clearing out the clutter of weeds and underbrush. Before the first sparks flew, the forest of U.S. capitalism was overgrown. And once the fire finally dwindles, the brands that will emerge are those with the clearest, most decisive, bravest positions. As we watch some companies put their brands aside as non-essential, here’s why we believe the opposite approach is critical.
1. You have a captive audience that is paying attention.
People are staying connected to each other and the world through their screens and social platforms. Sarika Sangwan, Global Head of Financial Services Strategy & Marketing at Pinterest, said they have been seeing a record level of engagement on the platform. Similarly, at 315 million downloads in the first quarter of 2020, TikTok, the lip-syncing social app, had the most downloads of an app in a single quarter – ever. With access to such large numbers of people who are actively engaged, there is a unique opportunity to communicate clearly and meaningfully.
2. People expect strong brands to have purpose.
Having conviction used to simply give brands a slight edge, but having purpose is becoming a requirement by increasingly mindful consumers. Kantar reported that brands who are able to deliver purpose in an ethical way saw their value grow twice as much as average brands. Further, a report by Accenture showed that growth for profit alone will fade away as people demand products and services that are personally meaningful and socially and environmentally beneficial.The takeaway? Be decisive in choosing a purpose-led position.The takeaway? Deeply understand what your audiences need, where they are engaging and clearly communicate your value proposition.
3. Consumers are voting with their dollars more than ever.
Whether seeking out local black-owned businesses to support or diverting purchases away from brands with poor responses to COVID-19, behaviors are changing. An encouraging example of this trend is the app EatOkra, a nationwide guide to black-owned restaurants, who CNN noted as having a 4,450% increase in daily downloads of new users from May 28 to June 4. Also, in light of AMC Theatres’ alleged dedication to innovating the way we see movies and commitment to their communities, a movie buff and fellow strategist at Matchstic said “AMC is opening back up in July. I’m not ready for that. It makes me want to cancel my membership.”The takeaway? Back up your brand’s promise with brave action.So, as consumers roll their eyes at the sea of laughably-similar and questionably-authentic COVID- and race-related ads, we know that blending in, staying silent and trying to be everything to everyone won’t work