COVID Impact: Positive Brand Storytelling.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, Americans have spent nearly an hour a day consuming the news, up from 22 minutes. That fact is hardly surprising—more than 215 million Americans are still at home—but heightened news consumption is taking a toll: seven in 10 say they need to take breaks from news about COVID-19, and four in 10 say they feel worse emotionally as a result of following the news so closely. Americans can’t get away from COVID-19. Though we are starting to see stay at home orders lift, discussions of workforce re-entry in the Fall, and a light at the end of this—what feels like 782 day—tunnel, everywhere we turn, we see reminders that our economy, lives, and nation aren’t the same as they once were. A new report found that 70% of Americans are looking to brands to boost positivity and share positive stories amidst COVID-19. The brands that are doing this well have structured their efforts with the following four goals in mind: Offering Delight There is no “right time” to resume proactive, brand-centric, product-pushing communications in the midst of a pandemic, but there is an opportunity for brands to start weaving positivity back into their storytelling. These messages should ignite joy among American consumers when they need it most. Consider delivering uplifting content that engages readers, viewers, and listeners in moments of joy—like Heinz, who created a fun, quirky puzzle to fill our time until the stay at home orders lift. Encouraging Unity In recent weeks, we have seen a number of brands—including household names like Facebook, Google, Nike, and Volskwagen—run ads on television talking about how we may not be together, but it won’t be like this for much longer. Uniting people during a time of distance ignites a sense of camaraderie and belonging. So, celebrate the communities in which you serve, demonstrate gratitude for others, and you will unite your brand with your customers. Acknowledge your Purpose Now more than ever, consumers want to know that the brands they support are driven by purpose. Walmart, for example, committed $25 million dollars to combat COVID-19, is actively supporting the communities it serves, and providing health care workers access to PPE, food and supplies. Use this time to highlight your corporate social responsibility, show how you are improving the lives of people and their communities, and display your commitment to changing the world for the better. Providing Assistance Several large brands spanning the financial services, hospitality, and technology industries have offered support to those fighting COVID-19 in the form of corporate giving. 3 in 4 Americans (77%) feel more positively about the brands making an effort to support society, and with a goal to preserve customer bases and build positive reputations, organizations are responding. Ford Motor Company joined forces with 3M and GE to assist in the production of ventilators for hospitals across the U.S., and simultaneously paused all national vehicle ads, replacing them with spots focused on car payment relief programs. This is a time of crisis that consumers will remember for years to come. How brands act now will affect perception and buying habits, so those companies and brands showing consumers how they are helping to make consumer lives better will maintain loyalty in the long-term.


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