Right Time for Brands to Win Hearts in COVID-19 Pandemic
Probably it’s not a right time for sales promotion to most of the brands but the right time for brands to stand by their vision and its aspiration.
Yesterday, I received 3 unique calls, while entire world is suffering from COVID-19 pandemic. More than the concern to companies and identifying right time for brands and businesses globally, people are involving themselves to stay safe. It’s obvious that lives are precious than businesses.
CALL 1: The brand manager of an A class commercial bank from Nepal calls me to halt all the marketing and branding campaign activities until the situation gets normal. The bank is not running its operation at full pace and not in a position to continue regular campaigns as there is going to have no business growth due to this pandemic.
CALL 2: The corporate communication head of a very old company based in Germany calls me to prepare all campaign related content asap and start campaigning prior to Easter. Most of the business activities are slow and not advertising so, we want to run campaign to achieve undivided attention to our brand and services.
CALL 3: A colleague, advertising professional and new media director calls me to write a thought on current situation and ways to come out from uncertain future of advertising industry ahead. It’s almost universal that the companies, whether local or multinational, cut the advertising budget at first when they have to cut cost, presumably in difficult time.
One must understand, there is right time for everything. So, has the time for advertising, marketing and branding. What are those factors determining right time for each of them?
Right time for everything
The core objective of advertising is to influence buying behavior by promoting products and services. According to Robert J. Lavidge and Gary A. Steiner as described in “Hierarchy of Effects” model, a buyer goes through six stages when making a purchase. These six stages are further divided into three categories: Awareness and Knowledge (Cognitive), Liking and Preference (Affective) and Conviction and Purchase (Conative).
An effective advertiser has to consciously think upon the right time, right communication and right approach to initiate brand’s advertising campaign keeping focus on their target group. If any of these three components is weaker or not appropriate, it may not deliver campaign objectives as expected. In worst case, it can backfire and kill the brand itself. Current time also seems to be very sensitive for most to the brands, if not all.
Marketing is one broader term in establishing a business and its success. Marketing as a discipline involves all the actions a company undertakes to draw in customers and maintain relationships with them. Networking with potential or past clients is part of the work too, and may include writing thank you emails, playing golf with prospective clients, returning calls and emails quickly, and meeting with clients for coffee or a meal.
Beyond traditional definition of marketing that involves Product, Price, Promotion and Placement, it is vital in providing strategic move to the brand. Here, we introduce ourselves with the term; Real-Time Marketing and Right-Time Marketing. While Real-Time Marketing is driven exclusively by the element of time, Right Time Marketing also includes something very important, context. Understanding a consumer’s behavior, needs and preferences is the most important thing when considering the timing of messages. There is more to consider than just time, including content, channel and strategy.
Branding needs mature thought process
Branding comes much later than advertising and marketing. This cannot be realized in a fraction of time. When branding started and when it actually happened is probably the hardest question to anyone, guarding a brand.
Branding needs mature thought process, driven with passion and long-term vision, maintenance over the different period of time. It solicits on keeping promises by brands. Everyone is admired to write a value-driven slogans and taglines underneath their logo. But, the question is, how strong these brands are standing along with its aspiration? Are those positive terms meant only to attract consumers to buy more from them and associate themselves in good times? Or, does it also remain equally relevant at the time of difficulties? COVID-19 pandemic is just one case from many.
Brand guardians must understand that the pandemic will be over one day. If you break communication now, consumers will lose hope and positive sentiments earned so far. Brand equity will be shaken. They will have long forgotten all those efforts you have put in the past. And, finally, your brand positioning will no longer be unique and personal but equally competitive to every other brand that exists in the market.
So, can brands afford to break communication in this pandemic situation? Is this the end of the world? The answer is definitely ‘No’. In fact, this is the right time in history to strengthen brand’s positioning and relationship with their consumers. This is the right time for brands to share and care in any way possible for strong brand resonance. This is the right time for brands to breakthrough competition and get closer to whom you exist for. This is the right time to stay persuasive and relevant in true sense of branding.
Despite this unprecedented economic hardship, there are many unique ways and creative ideas brands can explore. This is what they were never forced to do in the past. It is a right time to start thinking differently and stay ahead in the league. If brands cannot do much, then at least to stay visible, show presence, assisting its consumer to overcome this pandemic and extending a little help then can. It will do no harm but help win hearts of its target customers, that will definitely pay back in future in terms of trust and belongingness.
TheSquare is extending its services to many local to multinational brands from many different countries and business verticals, helping them to prosper. TheSquare’s offshore business is one major part of the business.