Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, we’ve been walking the fine line of keeping up to date with the impacts of the pandemic and also, not overwhelming our brains with information to protect our mental health. One way we tried to do this was by filtering through the information that would be relevant to us. As marketers, of course, something that has mattered to us is watching the response from brands during this global crisis. Within days, sometimes even hours, we were impressed with a variety of strong responses from the brands and companies we interact with regularly. No brand is looking for “gold stars” during this time as we’ve all been faced with loss and challenges, but we are all looking around for help, support, leadership and guidance to get through the day. We find the best brands are the ones who contribute energy and resource to the customers who keep them in business.
The strongest responses had a few things in common:
By including these elements, these brands demonstrated that it is possible to maintain healthy communications with your customers during times of duress, even when you don’t have all the information you wish you had before making business decisions. They worked with what they knew they could control.
Most importantly, the companies with the strongest responses maintained contact with their clients WITHOUT: 1) Fear mongering or 2) Leveraging consumer’s vulnerability to upsell your products/services (not to say this didn’t happen, but we’re not going to name names).
In weaker responses to the pandemic, we noticed a few themes to keep in mind:
So, to help you start planning what responses would be suitable to your brand in your crisis communications plan, we have put together 10 responses that we found to be most effective during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, for businesses, employees and consumers.
In an email, Tangerine Bank provided information that was relevant to their brand, showed empathy for their clients who may be experiencing financial challenges, and positioned themselves as a guide by reminding us that “we’re here to help.” Not to mention, the message came directly from President & CEO Gillian Riley – it was refreshing and reassuring to see a female amidst the letters from CEO’s the last few months.
The Rising Tide Society got right to work arranging virtual meet-ups and free resources for their entrepreneurial following. We also loved their message about prioritizing mental wellness and self-care. Especially at the time we received this, it was quite unique amidst a sea of messaging elsewhere that the pandemic was a perfect time to hustle extra hard, to keep up the status quo, to buy more, sell more and basically, be in denial that the world was flipping upside down around us.
Yes, we’ve mentioned them before, but seriously, another shout-out to brands like Down Dog, The Tapping Solution, and The Liturgists Podcast who generously (and almost immediately) opened up their paid content for free use. In this email, Down Dog also made special arrangements for front-line workers, teachers and students who we all want to see taken care of in these strained moments of history.
Holisticism is another beautiful brand that opened up a library of free content to help users access free self-care resources during the quarantine, while also reminding readers of the social impacts on our marginalized fellow souls in this time of upheaval. It was absolutely appropriate and relevant for Holisticism to remind us that even though we’re all going through this together, we’re not all feeling its impact equally.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable CEOs in Canada, Galen Weston’s voice in the emails sent from PC Optimum™ was a strong way to channel their information and updates. Coming during a time of a human-made food shortage, Weston’s email took great care to acknowledge the concerns many Canadians were facing, while also minimizing the scarcity fears and sense of risk in clear language. This email is followed by more free, relevant resources that online shoppers could access from home.
We loved the way this sweet, creative brand in Ontario addressed the need for more ways to keep children busy during the quarantine. It’s a creative solution to provide real value, without asking your audience for anything in return during tough times. We got our download and sent it to our little loved ones!
For many businesses, looking at their accounts during the pandemic might have become associated with negative feelings – loss, fear, stress. Quickbooks worked hard to help their clients feel supported and even optimistic when they logged in to their accounting software. They reminded clients that they weren’t alone, brought in experts to speak on pressing subjects and also reminded users of the importance of self-care, not just financial care during the pandemic.
We were really impressed to see Canva get ahead of the possibility that users might be able to produce fear-mongering, inaccurate information using their account. This simple message in their dashboard was an excellent way to gently remind people that there are accurate, and inaccurate places to source information from in this digital age.
We found this niche subject to be incredibly helpful as we transitioned our pets to adapt to these strange times. Especially during a time with limits imposed on pet-owners around dog parks and grooming visits, Whole Dog fulfilled their brand responsibility by sharing helpful information … much of which gave us the reaction of “oh thank God, I’m not the only one.”
Knowing that many people would be faced with the difficult decision to cancel or postpone their wedding, Morning Light Photography made it easy for people to decide what to do. First, they developed a plan that served their audience. Then, they quickly added a section to their homepage to address COVID-19, and made an easy to read blog post outlining everything a couple should know before and after they make a decision.
Perhaps the most important thing of all is to remember not to lose your humanity. Don’t sound like a robot that just copy and pasted a massive block of text because you didn’t feel like taking time to filter out the important pieces for your audience. They want to hear from you, know that things are under control and that there business is safe with you.