How brands react to global crisis


Nobody was prepared for what 2020 was going to bring. The emergence and proliferation of COVID-19 disrupted businesses globally, and yes, even creative advertising agencies. How brands react during this crisis has never been more important.

“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity” – Albert Einstein Delivering the right brand message at the right time will capture your customer’s heart. Your customers will seek for reliable sources to trust, friends who genuinely care and are able to guide their businesses through the hailstorm. And one of the things your consumers react and eventually relate to is how your brand communicates during this time of crisis.

Some of you might wonder –how can brands adapt creatively to this situation?

Here are a few examples of iconic brands who have reacted gracefully to this unprecedented situation.

Brands that encouraged social distancing


Mcdonald's logoRemember the iconic golden arches which sometimes add to your late-night binge lists? In Brazil, the iconic golden arches on Mcdonald’s brand logo was separated to demonstrate social distancing during the outbreak. With the separation comes the message, “Separated for a moment to always be together”.

Coca Cola outdoor advertisement

Coca Cola

When social distancing hasn’t been followed by everyone, creativity stepped in. Coca Cola created a giant outdoor advertisement of their brand logo spreading the message, literally, for social distancing in Times Square.

Nike brand slogan

Nike always surprises us with their brand’s boldness and creative slogans. They proved that hopping on the bandwagon and changing the logo in response to the times, is not the only way to go. It is a great example of brands changing their slogans to suit the current situation and create impact.

IKEA commercial

When #StayHome trended on social media during the quarantine period, it was quite impossible not to mention IKEA, a home furnishing brand loved around the world. IKEA’s advertisement “I Stay Home” encouraged the people in Spain to stay home and protect themselves and their loved ones.

Brands can learn from IKEA in using storytelling to remind consumers of its brand’s core premise while at the same time staying true to the message of the times, “Protect yourselves and your loved ones by staying at home”.

What else can your brand do?

We get it, not every brand can execute a TV spot in a matter of weeks. Thankfully with the power of social media by our side, we can do what wasn’t possible decades ago.

TikTok #HappyAtHome

TikTok, a platform where viral sensations are born and where people can’t help but keep scrolling, launched #HappyAtHome. This is a 30-60 minutes long live-streaming series, diverging from the usual 15-60 second video content. The long-form videos provided comfort, education and connection to alleviate boredom in consumers who are practising social distancing.

Brands should take the time to take a closer look at consumer behaviour and hone in on what they love about the brand. Using these insights, brands should then engage with them meaningfully through timely and relevant content.

Mucinex Print Advertisement Series

Mucinex released a series of informational print advertisements that raises awareness in educating people to consume information online with caution during this crisis. This builds reliability and trust toward the brand while at the same time, releasing valuable public service announcements relevant during this time of crisis.

What your brand can keep in mind.

During these tough times, consumer behaviours and needs are unpredictable. Brands will have to proactively adapt and be cautious of what they communicate to their customers. Just because it’s a trend doesn’t mean it’ll work for your brand.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes, dig into news articles and look for different channels to tell your message. Most of all, be culturally sensitive to the market you are targeting and display genuine care to consumers. This will not only influence brand communications but also help in ensuring effective use of budget.

While brands can adapt and communicate in this time of crisis, there are other factors to consider when coming up with marketing strategies during the downturn.

Keeping all these in mind and learning from how other brands communicate during times of crisis will help determine how your brand reacts to future emergencies.

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