As governments around the world find themselves overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are realizing that they have a greater role to play in the public arena. The world’s largest beer company is making more than one million bottles of hand sanitizer from surplus alcohol at its breweries around the world. A luxury fashion brand has converted its production facilities to manufacture medical overalls.
Some businesses are pooling resources and expertise to create collaborative solutions. For example, a consortium of industrial, technology and engineering businesses from across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors, has come together to produce medical ventilators for the UK.
Business are seeking for ways to help. Consumers, in turn, are watching how brands behave in this time of crisis. They believe companies should provide meaningful solutions to the most urgent problems, not just sell things.
The key to people’s engagement in times of crisis is empathy, or brand solidarity. How does a brand activist company fulfill its commitment to the Common Good?
Here is a framework that allows us to systematically explore the range of actions available to make a difference.
It’s about defining your company’s values and proving them in action. In its essence, the framework boils down to a single question: what can we do to help in order to have the most impact?
The Brand and its Community
With the COVID-19 crisis, brands must act.
How relevant is your brand vision to public expectation?
What do you bring to society to make a difference?
Who are the people and organizations you must partner with?
This framework helps businesses to be relevant to the most important element in the ecosystem – people. The framework helps the business understand its customers – the people who build the brand from the outside, and to understand its employees – the people who build the brand from the inside. People are the biggest asset of your brand and in order to develop it, you need to find your own path to solidarity and responsibility. For example, If a business lays-off or furloughs employees, even as the CEO collects a paycheck, it is a candidate for brandshaming. Society is watching you. Your employees are watching you. Already, there are companies that are acting differently. Gravity CEO Dan Price took a novel approach on how to save the company – he asked his employees!
Ivan Gurkov is a Brand & Creative Strategist at Interpartners, Bulgaria.