How Marketers Can Navigate Branding During Covid-19

There are still ways to help and portray your brand in a positive light

Announcing! Brandweek is headed to Phoenix, Arizona this September 23–26. Join us there to explore the future of marketing, discover cutting-edge strategies and network with the best in the business.

The coronavirus has thrown all our marketing (and personal) plans out the window. We’re all experiencing the pandemic on individual, community, workplace and macro-economic levels, and many of us—including myself—know that the rest of 2020 will be a challenging year for business.

That being said, I’m seeing consistent trends across our clients the past two weeks, and I hope to offer advice on how to build goodwill with consumers while capitalizing on unexpected growth. While it may be uncomfortable for marketers to keep investing in their brands during uncertain times, the flipside of budget cuts is the downturn it will create in our industry, resulting in job loss.

Advertising spend is moving, so please don’t dump all of it into Facebook ads

Clients are panicking as they have to reallocate OOH, in-store, event and TV sports sponsorship dollars to digital, social, ecommerce and podcasts. Now even the word “print” is being spoken again. They have concerns about CPMs, as their media mix models still overvalue TV and now all brands have less media inventory to buy. They have pressure to spend the dollars to first, protect next year’s budgets and manage comp (meaning, how their business compared this day last year).

Please consider diversifying your brand’s reallocated media investments across channels so we don’t all end up competing for the same eyeballs on Facebook. Move to bottom-of-the-funnel media so your brand can have more granular targeting that reflects where your products are in stock and prevent any tone-deaf messaging in locations that are hit harder than others.

Here’s what marketers need to do to prepare for ecommerce

Brands that are ready to accelerate this unexpected growth are ones that built out their ecommerce marketing foundation. At a minimum, what brands need to do is have a multi-retailer digital storefront that can redirect consumers to a retailer that has your products in stock, be able to have tailored ecommerce creative and messaging by location, capture and convert ecommerce shopper audiences so they can live in your brand’s ad manager and customer data platform and have a team or partner who has hands-on keyboard for optimizing and remarketing ecommerce media and creative in real-time.

Messaging has to change as fast as Covid-19 spreads 

Being tone-deaf with messaging can be detrimental to your brand. Do not news-jack and instead use digital, social and mobile’s granular targeting to deliver relevant messages based on location and needs.

Simply consider being a human and transparent brand. No one may care about how beautiful your creative is right now. Instead offer useful messaging like one-hour delivery, meal and safety planning and provide value added services like discounts to online classes and entertainment. And most importantly, invest in customer service. Just like human communication, have your brand use video chat and messaging with consumers. It’s even a great opportunity to have your marketing team join the call center to get to know your consumers right now so you’ll become better marketers on the other side.

As long as Covid-19 is in the media cycle, it will be unavoidable to protect your brand from appearing next to this news. Pulling media dollars because of this brand image risk can result in less ad spend for our industry, and inevitably, jobs lost.

Covid-19 is personal and business all at once. We’re all navigating this together, and marketers have the opportunity to lead the way as good business citizens.