It’s easy to take branding for granted when running a business while the economy is booming. The opportunities for online entrepreneurs in the past few years were as easy as putting up a social media account or blog connected to a payment gateway. It was simple enough to get results because the routine and behavior of potential customers were more predictable.
But what happens when a crisis or world event disrupts daily life, and businesses won’t be able to continue as usual? What can businesses do when people are focused on the current situation, and feeling uncertain?
More than ever, it becomes clear that branding plays a key role for businesses, especially during a crisis. Here are some insights that may give you ideas on improving your branding:
1 / Recognition and relevance
The biggest mistake of businesses during these times would be to act as if nothing has happened. Not only will the audience be uninterested, they might react negatively, seeing it as being insensitive to the situation.
During a crisis, the big jumble of news, advisories, and live streaming will hold the bulk of people’s attention. Even the loyal customers of a business won’t engage with content that’s not in touch with current events.
The good news is this is a big opportunity for businesses to rework their branding and content to be more relevant. Branding is a lot more than just creating a random logo or color scheme. That logo, the colors you choose, and the illustration that go with it, must be a symbol that highlights your values as a company. Mindful branding helps your audience and potential customers to remember and connect with those values.
This is also a good time for posts and newsletters with a more personal touch. Your branding for these posts and emails must be more subtle, and sensitive to the situation. The important thing to remember is that good, effective branding is not only about what people see, but how it makes them feel.
2 / Trust and sincerity
Aside from being mindful about the current situation, your branding should provide an opportunity for your audience to get to know you better. People support and engage with something that they understand, and the best way towards that is to develop trust.
If your business continues to provide service or products during a crisis, the most important thing would be to remain consistent, and reliable. Be upfront when your business cannot deliver the same quality during times of crisis. This honesty will go a long way, and your audience will most likely continue supporting and trusting your brand.
More people these days prefer buying from brands that show honesty, and professionalism, even through a crisis. Highlight this competence along with good customer experience in your social media presence. People would be more engaged if they know what you’re doing during difficult times. This will also remind them why they need to come back to you.
3 / Engaging, instead of advertising
Be there for your audience. At this time, don’t sell to them, be present for them.
This is a major component of your brand because both the choice of medium and the target market for these ads must result in personal connection. During non-crisis situations, this may be a free item like pens or tote bags when the audience signs up, so your brand will be continually present even after the first interaction.
But when there’s a serious national or global crisis, the priority must be reaching out to the audience in a more personal manner instead of directly selling or advertising. This might mean creating informational videos or infographic campaigns that they’re more likely to share to their family and friends. Or sponsoring a live interview with an expert relevant to the crisis that your audience would find helpful.
Aside from being more productive in response to the crisis, this gives you an advantage over your competitors as people prefer to support a brand and business that contributes positively to the community.
4 / The power of empathy
When customers associate a strong positive feeling for your business, and what it can do for them, they are more likely to recognize and support your products or services. It’s usually emotions that drive people to take action, and your branding must consistently remind them of these feelings.
Your design and branding should show what you stand for. It must be a way for your audience to connect and relate to your unique story, especially with what your company is going through during a crisis that they are going through as well. A more serious design is called for so that it reflects the current situation, and highlights your ebrand’s message or story.
People learn and remember through stories that they connect with emotionally. It’s one reason why AI can’t quite fully grasp effective graphic design (learn more in our article here). For more insights on how branding can affect people’s emotions, check out our article here.
5 / Action and contribution
The usual bold message that centers around the business may not work during times when people feel uncertain about current events. Instead of being vocal about selling and promotions, focus on reassuring customers that your business is focused on serving the best quality as much as possible during the crisis.
It’s better for the design and branding to move away from the usual template to send a message that the business is aware of the change in the current situation, and is doing something about it. Good branding and design is only as good as the results, however, so the positive association with the business will still depend on its consistency in customer service.
With all that you do with your brand, it should represent what your business stands for, and why it deserves attention and support. Otherwise, your customers will easily notice that inconsistency between your promise and your delivery (more about intent and branding over here).
6 / Inspiration
A memorable, inspirational brand is built from the inside-out. The values a business projects through design and branding must be something everyone in the company — from the founders down to the staff — believes in.
Inspiration cannot be artificially created through a campaign. A good example of that would be McDonald’s, who drew negative reactions for an advertising campaign related to the coronavirus pandemic. It backfired because the public recalled the company’s track record for dismal employee relations and compensation, especially during the pandemic.
Branding is a symbol for the business, and it must be something that everyone in the company supports. This way, it becomes a strong, memorable message for the audience.
With these insights about how branding and design are crucial to business during a crisis, the good news is you don’t need to be an expert at design or social media to make these changes. You don’t even need to go through the tedious process of hiring and maintaining a full-time designer, either.
The best-kept secret that businesses can rely on for design and branding needs, even during a crisis, is DotYeti.com. On-demand design, only when you need it. You can engage or cancel, anytime. See for yourself how DotYeti works!