For years content marketing leaders preached about making our brands more authentic, more genuine. And just when brands like Hershey’s and Apple thought they were nailing it, in walked a new stay-at-home world and pandemic that brought markets, small businesses, and people to their kneesBut it also changed how consumers are seeing celebrities, CEOs – who just like you and me, live with a new Zoom backdrop that’s peppered with darting kiddo interruptions, tousled, overgrown hair and faces that reveal zero makeup.
This has become the new reality and consumers are scrutinizing how brands react during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they move forward.
What does true brand authenticity look like in a post-COVID world and what are audiences expecting from brands to meet them where they are?
Consumer Sentiment Suggests Polished Production for Brands is Out
Less than three months ago our marketing team was planning video shoots with professional, high-quality production for client advertising projects. But the pandemic shifted the landscape and along with it, consumer sentiment, bringing a new expectation for legit brand authenticity to the forefront. Think of it as an evolution from highly perfected Kardashians to home-grown Jimmy Fallon monologues produced in his kitchen. Consumers want strong brands but one where your surface isn’t epoxied. Be authentic – as soft and squishy as the rest of the world’s surface truly is right now.
Aside from not wanting to be sold to in this time, the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer suggests that consumers are hungry for compassionate and factual messaging from brands. And here’s why it matters, 69% of U.S. Edelman Trust Barometer survey respondents said they will avoid brands, in the future, they see placing profits ahead of people during the pandemic.
Evolving your next brand communication to a deeper genuine level doesn’t come with a checklist, but it does involve some basic rules of engagement like staying true to:
- Your culture
- The emotion of your people
- The solutions your people, products and services can deliver
- Stopping just short of promoting yourself
Challenging balance, eh? Even more so when you are not in tune with that emotional quotient of your brand. Need help understanding how to cultivate emotional intelligence for your brand, consultant, Mory Fontanez delivers three smart ways.
Solving not Selling is Mission Critical for Brands
Tapping into your human side has always been a winning approach for brands that dominate the customer experience. But now more than ever, that emotional intelligence takes center stage in being a problem-solving, self-aware brand.
How did Zoom suddenly become the Kleenex of web conferencing? They solved our challenge by relaxing subscriptions and extending beyond the 40-minute free conferencing to help us endure, work, and connect. Their brand name association and solution-first approach has Zoom nailing it in a big way.
Burger King’s message amid the pandemic that empathizes with “We know you’re not thinking of us right now, but we’re thinking of you,” is just gentle enough to be heard and delivered simply enough to feel genuine.
Masterclass.com is a brilliant example of this solution-based branding. “Yes, I want to learn how to become a pastry chef in my own kitchen. No, I do not want to spend $20,000 and two years at a culinary institute to learn to make Mini Madeleines.” Bringing the world, the classroom, the solution to the consumer can easily be achieved in this digital world.
How does your brand solve problems for its users in creative ways?
Without being too contrived, try to fit your brand into a pandemic problem. Getting creative means taking risks with your brand and exploring the wild side of what’s normal. Frankly, this is a useful strategy to consider for your brand at any time. It should be at the least part of your positioning and what makes you different – but let it grow from there into what’s possible.
Pausing the Promotion…
There are savvy ways to market your business in a time when people don’t want to be sold to. Our business cohort, Amy Hutchins with MarketLogic addresses this well in her recent blog. Use this time to focus on your content strategy for getting back to business post-pandemic.
Is this your time to reinvent? To explore your brand’s positioning? To recalibrate your message, purpose, and ways you can serve instead of sell?
Not sure where to take it?
We’re helping businesses right now with FREE Get Back in the Game marketing consulting. This no-cost consultation is our way to give back to companies caught in the wave of halted business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to see you succeed and have some marketing ideas you can implement to kick-start your business.
Schedule a time using our calendar app in the link below. Our marketing strategists will hop on a Zoom call to talk through your business, your services, and how you can position your brand and message to get back to business and tell an authentic story.