Self-isolation. Social distancing. Quarantine. All words that barely existed in our vocabulary a few months ago, now ruling our everyday lives.
We’re in the biggest crisis of our time. Businesses are under extreme pressure, and responding the best way they can. For many, this means sending an email on how they’re dealing with the Coronavirus – a well-meaning but slightly fruitless approach when landing in an inbox already bursting with similar messages.
As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words.
A good deed or strategic marketing?
Last week, Brewdog garnered headlines and hashtags when it announced it was making free ‘Punk’ hand sanitiser for those in need at its distillery in Aberdeenshire. Some applauded the craft beer brand, others deemed it a publicity stunt.
But a good deed is a good deed, whether or not it trends on Twitter. Punk sanitisers are helping to plug a dangerous shortage in a desperate time. That’s commendable.
It’s inevitable that performance marketing metrics for a lot of businesses will suffer in the current climate. But that doesn’t mean all is lost. As Mark Ritson notes in his Marketing Week article, now’s the time to focus on long-term brand-building.
Brands building awareness
Businesses that look beyond short-term sales to engage with consumers on an emotional level will drive long-term value. Five years from now, we won’t remember the beauty brand telling us we’re all in this together while flogging their latest lipstick. We will remember Pret’s free drinks and half-price food for NHS workers.
That’s not to say that we should all forget our bottom-lines and turn into charities. The sweet spot rests in using your brand's USP for the power of good.
Pasta Evangelists, for example, has introduced a care package so shoppers can order three nutritious dishes to be delivered to the door of loved ones (while, of course, adhering to self-isolation and social distancing guidelines). For every package sold, £5 is donated to AgeUK. Lola’s Cupcakes, meanwhile, has branched out from its sweet-tooth offering to supply fruit and veg boxes.
It’s not only food providers doing their bit. JustPark, a technology platform matching drivers with parking spaces, has launched an appeal to provide NHS staff and patients with free spaces across the UK. Natural beauty brand L’Occitane is sending hand creams to soothe the hand-working and heavily anti-bacced hands of NHS workers in hospitals. Bloom & Wild is donating 15% of its Florist's Pick sales to the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal and giving key support workers 40% off flowers.
JustPark's appeal to help NHS staff and patients park for free
Coming back from Coronavirus
As the news becomes an avalanche of scary statistics and foreboding predictions, it feels more important than ever to find the positives. The brands showing they’re about more than their products – that they really care about their customers and communities – provide a glimmer of hope in a much-needed time. That’s powerful.
Whether brands like Brewdog, Pret and JustPark are doing good deeds or strategically building brand awareness doesn’t really matter. Their actions are making a difference – and will see them thrive when we make it through this crisis to the other side.