(June 2020 – Current do Not use)
“We’re Here for You”
Why it was okay until May
If you were one of the first brands in the early spring to use this, congratulations it was appropriate! Everything was shutting down, people were closed in, and markets were insecure about the future. Panic buying skyrocketed and there were terrifying shortages. At this time these phrases were new, acknowledging the virus and offering comfort with the promise of return.
Why it’s NOT relevant now
Stores are re-stocking at a consistent level. Several new companies have risen to the challenge of creating Sanitizer solutions, www.fastbeds.com, for example. There is less of the unknown pressing against us. You’re in and out of the office, sports are starting up, and if you have to hear “New Normal” one more time you’re going to throw your phone out the window!!!! These once calming words are now in every single brand video, spoiling content everywhere. Making your brand suddenly disingenuous. Just another brand saying “look at me I care about our profit margin and want to use the virus to pretend I care about you”, and they’re not wrong. You’re doing content strategy now, and you want to remain relevant to the times. You want to show your company cares, maybe they have adapted to help, but you don’t want your message to be lost or watered down.
Find a relatable message that is unique to your company, break the mold. If you want to show social relevance than be ready to change your message. What works this summer won’t this fall. We need to remind our audience that we exist at the same time, breathe the same air, and suffer the same problems. Show that people are behind a brand, a brand is not a company a brand is the people that run it day-to-day.
There are new issues that have shifted from the virus, it’s no longer a toilet paper shortage and a numberless lockdown. Issues that face us this summer are GDP dropped 32.9%, increased unemployment rates, climate change, hurricane season, financial assistance ends, unpaid sick-time, massive national and global deaths, foreclosures, evictions, landlord protests, teacher protests, student protests, BLM protests, social justice reform, calls for elderly lives to matter, and these are just a few to start from. Small businesses are closing, schools are suffering, and large companies are being demonized for their indifference and profit margins. There is a shift to home and family as more companies are modernizing their remote workforce. There is a tech shift accommodating workers, teachers, students, and patients in a virtual environment, making applications like Teams, Slack, Zoom, Sykpe more relevant. By being aware you can avoid picking the wrong message, and will inform the direction to position your content.
Your Story is the People Behind it
What do all of these issues have one thing in common? A focus on people. We’ve identified new issues that the Pandemic has enhanced, but how can we show we care without saying “challenging time”? A “challenging time” does not begin to describe the family whose job was shut down and is losing their home. It does not show consideration for the kid that lost both his parents to the Virus. In an effort to show sympathy it instead creates distance. The “we’re here for you” message plays off the economic gap. Don’t let your brand become the rich person saying they “feel sorry” for the working class, instead be the brand made of people dealing with the same issues. This overgeneralization worked when we weren’t sure what was happening or what the outcome would be. Now we know.
Grab Your Coffee & Bunny Slippers it’s time to Brainstorm!
Shift the message to COMMUNITY, show your connection. This is happening to “us” not “them”. How your company is helping? Are they expanding or hiring? Show strength and resilience. Have they adapted to aid in shortages? Have they volunteered or donated? Your business has to feel real and current. To elevate your brand allow it to be vulnerable. Give your audience a story, a message for them to connect to your brand.
Boring is Easy, Get Creative
Be creative with your strategy. Don’t just follow your competition, lead them. Decide on the tone, humor, care, appreciation, empathy? How can you use imagery to relate to the times? Can you play off of a trending hashtag? How can you show it not to say it? For example, we will forever see masks as in 2020. You can look at videos and know WHEN they were, how can you be present?
Examples of companies that are doing it right
A relevant creative play on their slogan. WOW did Nike play their cards right?! They jumped on a social movement that caused quite the stir, including a plummet in their stocks. They were fueled by millions of free social shares with their viral campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. Now they might be the MOST genuine brand. They took a stance before it was popular. A calculated risk that enhanced brand loyalists. Nike has created a path for companies to publically show support for racial equality and justice.
The power of something greater
It’s an example of a Campaign that is getting involved, with a focus on people and community, while generating a branding message from it.
“Some of Honda’s corporate initiatives include pulling personal protective equipment from the company’s factories for healthcare providers and using company 3-D printers to make face shields.
Honda also pledged $1 million to communities across North America, directed toward food banks. In fact, its Honda Center, home to the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, has been converted to a socially distant community exchange center, where food bank donations are being processed.
Like other automakers, Acura and Honda are also offering ways for owners to defer payments and discounts for first responders.” – Elaine Underwood
The Whole Working From Home Thing
This is an authentic feeling advertisement that positions itself from the eyes of its audience. This video encompases a wide-variety of representation in a chaotic, relatable, and artistically homemade unfiltered approach. They are focusing on the people behind the products, how they are used, what features they offer.
Behind the Mac
This is a great example of contrast. Again this is relatable content on what their product is capable of, by focusing on the creator behind the Mac. They take something expressive, lonely, and turns it into art. It’s inspirational. They also set themselves apart by color, opting for grayscale which has a historical feel to it but also sets a tone.
No Risk No Reward….
The NBA has taken a more aggressive approach to their brand. From their teams to their performance. They’ve tried to addressing every negative obstacle that they could face by re-opening.
They’ve chosen to focus their message on social justice reform and awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement. They know who their audiences are, and they have made a calculated decision on how they can utilize a social issue to propel their brand. They are relevant, they are tying in real people by streaming the audience in. Why does it work? It feels genuine, informational, vulnerable, and culturally relevant.
For the team that is still running old ads…
You’re dated. People hugging, partying, no masks completely remove you from being relevant. They can even unintentionally propel a message that your company is anti-mask, anti-socially distancing, or simply doesn’t care. Try to update messages on social platforms, your website, your blog, PR Statements, etc. If you can replace an ad spot with newer content try to. Understandably some companies have invested in large ad campaigns that will run this year. This is a learning moment for becoming a more adaptable brand, the consistency of the 90’s is no longer a relevant strategy. Let’s use 2020 to learn that our marketing strategies can be thrown out, and we have to be willing to adapt in real-time.