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Now is the time to show true [brand] character

Let’s face it. There’s not much else on anyone’s mind at the moment other than Coronavirus. While as individuals we’re all manically washing our hands, rubbing on alcohol gel, or in the case of some, arguably unhinged people, buying up several months’ worth of loo roll, the story is playing out in interesting ways across the corporate world too.

In the past week several Brandality colleagues have received emails from brands they communicate with regularly – both in a business capacity and as consumers, all centred reassuring customers and clients and in the process, protecting their brand and corporate reputations. A lot of the b-2-b ones go something like this [the following are email excerpts from businesses and brands in the past few days]…

As the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly around the globe, XXX is monitoring the situation closely. Our commitment first and foremost is to the health and well-being of our global community. We have implemented safety measures, having employees work from home in a number of offices and restricting travel, as have many of you. XXX is in a strong position to help you understand and address the business implications of this unprecedented event. We began our planning in early February and have put in place pre-tested business-continuity and technical plans that will enable us to conduct business and continue to serve you, our important clients, with the information you need during these uncertain times.

We’ve also received ones from retailers along the lines of…
With immediate effect, our stores will be operating a ‘no-touch’ environment…please be assured that our stores have elevated their already high standards of hygiene, incorporating additional deep cleaning and disinfecting procedures and frequency. We have increased accessibility and visibility of hand sanitisers and hand washing facilities for employees and customer at multiple stations within our stores and invite you to use these to help protect the safety of our community.

To be honest, one of the best was an email from Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi detailing the measures in place, not only to reassure customers using cars and food delivery, but also about the fact that diagnosed drivers will receive financial assistance. It also reminded everyone that: “In times of uncertainty, it is especially important that we be our best selves.”

The same maxim also applies to brands. The point here is that Coronavirus not only has the potential to decimate lives, but also corporate reputations if brands and businesses don’t respond in a timely and appropriate way. In a world where integrity, brand meaning and purpose are everything, when the proverbial is hitting the fan, it’s times like this that many brands show their true character.

Right now, company boards are calculating the potential loss of business from the havoc Coronavirus has already caused and the havoc yet to come. We say, it’s now more than ever that businesses must consider more than the balance sheet – but also those brand promises, CSR pledges and employee wellbeing policies, they’re so proud of.

The world is watching.