How to Manage a Brand during a Crisis!
We’ve created a brand crisis framework containing best-practice steps all companies should use to protect their brand integrity during a crisis.
If your company sells healthcare products, food, or sanitiser products, you’re probably not too concerned about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, and the unfolding downturn in the global economy.
However, those businesses who DO NOT sell these types of products or services RIGHT NOW is the time when you need to STOP and think seriously about how you will manage your brand over the next 12-months.
The way that you manage your brand and its marketing message now will ultimately pave the way for how your business will recover as normality resumes.
Do the WRONG thing, and people won’t come back.
Do the RIGHT thing, not only will customers return quickly, but you will also build brand loyalty with your customers for many years to come.
Managing your Brand during a Crisis
There is no golden rule book for how you should do this, BUT what we have provided you on this blog is a framework that contains many of the best-practice steps that will help you to control the customer perception of your brand during difficult times.
Helping companies to Create a Coronavirus Business Contingency Program
Building a Brand Crisis Framework
BEFORE you start anything, it’s crucial that you take the time to breakdown the situation in relation to your business brand, its operations, staff, and its customers.
Create a crisis management team
Establish crisis management protocols. Designate key-personal from each department who will take ownership and work together on the crisis response and ongoing management.
Define how your company defines the crisis.
Ensuring that you document the impact on your business in the short and long term will help you to craft the right tactics to implement.
Create pre-approved language
Craft some crisis messages or statements that can be adapted during the situation for employees who need to ‘walk-the-talk’ in the face of your customers e.g. management, marketing, sales, public relations etc.
for the business
Decide who will be the approved spokespeople for the business brand to keep control of the message.
Create a crisis management plan
Build a detailed plan that can be shared both internally and externally. Define the timeline, issues, barriers, remedies, actions. Preposition human, financial, and operational resources and changes. Use this plan to build confidence with your staff and customers.
Educate and train crisis teams
Ensure that department members are skilled to handle the crisis and have been provided with clear leadership, roles and tasks.
Create your Crisis Brand Message
The most CRITICAL part of any crisis response!
Take the time to craft your brand message. It should be carefully defined by your team to articulate the current state of play, the challenges ahead, and the changes you’re making to get through it.
Promote the positive and the benefits (not products) to your customers, and connect personally with your audience to show empathy and how the changes will impact them.
Your message should be personalised and put yourself in the shoes of your customers by thinking about their challenges and current needs.
• Focus more towards brand marketing, not sales
• Only promote products / services that ARE needed by your customers right now
• Turn off ALL existing marketing and replace it with your crisis communications
• Be kind, Be Honest, Be Clear, Be concise, Be helpful, Be empathetic, Be friendly.
Communicate your Changes
Build a communication plan to ensure that your crisis brand message gets to your customers.
It’s essential that you choose the RIGHT channels that work best for your brand when talking to your audience.
It’s worth noting that each channel has a different reaction characteristic, so here is a summary for you to consider:
• Social media: using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn typically involve a conversation. Ensure that you have someone ready to talk and control your social messages.
• Press releases or statements: these typically broadcast a static message and are readily picked up by media agencies globally.
• Website blog or news pages: These mechanisms give you greater control of your message, plus you’re talking with your company voice.
• Television: this channel needs experience, training, and an agreed message script. Great for talking to a broader audience.
Try to avoid flooding your customers with too many messages.
This can create confusion and also anxiety in some people. Be clear and concise, and time the messages to what needs to be said, and at what moment.
Be Factual and Correct before you Communicate ANYTHING!
During a crisis, everyone panics wanting actions and answers immediately.
Keep your crisis team calm and focused on the tasks ahead.
Take the time to build a quality crisis brand message, and at the same time create a Q&A list that covers the main questions your customers might ask you?
Fact check everything and avoid saying something incorrect or outdated.
Don’t share public information that has not been validated beforehand.
• Be factual
• Be confident
• Never speculate
• Be empathetic
• Learn to listen to people before you answer.
Remember, people don’t always hear what you are saying so be concise, clear and reinforce.
Bridge any gaps in your business operations.
It’s inevitable that you will need to change the way your business operates.
Plan out these changes as well as bridging the gaps between the old and new to reduce any impact on the way customers transact with you. When there is a change, plan it, document it, communicate it with your customers.
• Have your trading hours changed?
• Do you have stock on hand or are you providing an alternative?
• How will your delivery service change?
• Should your customers interact and transact with you differently?
• Have you changed any company policies or procedures e.g. refunds, returns or support?
• Can you offer customers more flexibility?
We help companies to Adapt Business Operations to suit Crisis Conditions
Do Good for Others
In crisis times, consumers look to trusted brands.
As a way to build more confidence and trust with your customers, perhaps think about supporting some charities or community ‘give-back’ programs.
Even a very small but meaningful offer of kindness will be remembered, and potentially open the door to new loyal customers.
• Partner with other businesses to bundle products and services
• Donate products, services or time to a nominated charity
• Think about ways to support your customers e.g. extended payment terms
• Encourage staff to participate in community volunteer programs.
Promote your Online eCommerce Channels.
If you don’t sell your products online, now is a good time to set up an e-commerce site or start selling through third-party channels such as eBay or Amazon.
You also want to build engagement on online social channels by offering relevant content to help people nest at home more comfortably. For instance, gyms can provide exercise videos, and restaurants can offer recipes to help people prepare healthy meals at home.
• Engage professionals to build an eCommerce ‘purchase to payment’ system
• Design your digital customer experience and journey
• Pimp up your website and its marketing
• Build online help systems such as Live Chat or FAQ help centres
• Make doing business with you EASY!
Easier said than done, but positive attitudes can be as contagious as the virus itself.
Being realistic about what’s going on, but also staying optimistic for the future signals resiliency to your customers and employees AND builds confidence.
Dealing with uncertainty and change isn’t easy, and no one can predict exactly how long the coronavirus will continue to impact your businesses.
But great businesses and trusted brands will get through this crisis and continue to feed the global economy.
Learn how to Keep Positive and in Good Mental Health
Plan for Post-Crisis Normality
For any brand, being hit by a crisis such as Coronavirus can be devastating.
However, every situation can also become a glass-half-full.
Your team will learn from the experience, and in the future, be better at avoiding a future crisis, planning a crisis, improving your company processes, building a stronger brand, developing customer loyalty, and making the business more resilient as a whole.
After this period, you need to think about how to bring your business back to some level of normality.
Plan for the following:
• Which of the crisis changes do we need to reverse?
• What did we find worked well, and can this be continued?
• What kind of efficiencies did we see, and how can we continue these?
• Are there areas of the business are vulnerable and not sustainable?
• How do we manage crisis communications?
• How well did we support our staff and customers?
• How did our brand integrity fair?
• Have our general marketing and sales plans been put back into place?
• Lastly, how do we recover our finances moving forward?
Things Not to Do!
1. Stop pretending things are okay and there isn’t going to be a problem
2. Don’t react suddenly and irrationally
3. Don’t attack people for their comments or ideas
4. Don’t share inaccurate information or false rumours
5. Don’t blame others
6. Don’t respond negatively
7. Put emotions on the back burner and stick to the facts
8. Don’t speak publically if you are unprepared
9. Avoid making decisions based on social media posts
10. DO NOT be selfish, inconsiderate or greedy.
In times of crisis, people are most critical of the actions of leading brands.
Even the small mistakes they make in their marketing and communications can very quickly snowball to become a major headache for the business.
It’s a fact that all brands will hit a bump in the road, but quick, transparent, and good crisis management will ultimately lead to a faster and more holistic recovery than trying to hide, defend, or trick people along the way trying to earn a quick buck.
By working collaboratively with your staff, customers and your suppliers, together you will become a support network and self-insulate yourself from further damage.
Better Brands = Better Business
Coronavirus COVID-19 Related Support Articles
Coronavirus Business Contingency & Planning Program
Marketing your Business during the Coronavirus Pandemic
How to retain Good Mental Health During a Crisis
Post-Coronavirus Shutdown Business Recovery Action Plan
Running a small business during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Government Grants and Funding Options
If you have any questions or perhaps just seeking some advice during the Coronavirus Pandemic, please do not hesitate to contact us on 03 9863-7444 or [email protected]