COVID-19: This may be the greatest chance to build your brand!

The best strategy for building positive sentiment around your brand is to weigh-in with public support during distress. It is simple. Friendship is strengthened or shattered in difficult moments. It depends on the response.

It isn’t strange hospitality businesses and sport teams are yielding their facilities to government as temporary quarantine sites. Fashion brands are making face-mask available in millions for free. Manufacturers are shipping ventilators. E-commerce giants are yielding their IT infrastructure to fast-tract research, testing and tracing. Others such as celebrities, ranging from soccer players to actors, artistes, politicians, and arts collectors, volunteer as logistic volunteers or donate money.

All these altruistic efforts may have been aimed at strengthening on-going government efforts to combat the novel Coronavirus and the economic impacts of prolonged lockdown, but they sure have subtle emotional implications on the existing relationship between consumers and brands.

Psychologist Kevin Hogan already highlighted the power of #Law of Reciprocity. He stated that when someone offers something of value to another, the receiver will feel obligated to return the favour. This is basically true.

Do you remember how you felt towards the friends who sent you comforting messages and donated money when you lost your parent? Or the mutual love that grew between you and a colleague who checked daily to find out how you fared the last time you were on sick leave?

Distress and disasters are the platforms for strengthening relationship. That is why they say ‘true friends are meant for trouble times’. The brands that are visibly throwing in monetary and material reliefs right now to combat the virus or relieve citizens will score higher on the scale of positive consumer sentiment when this is over.

Oscar winning actor, Sean Penn, will endear himself to more viewing fans as he teams up with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office to enhance Drive-Thru COVID-19 testing in Malibu, California. Ralph Lauren has promised $10 million as donation to the relief efforts in America despite bleak projection of falling demand for luxury brands during and after the lockdown.

E-commerce firms, Alibaba and Amazon, have offered their AI infrastructure to doctors and medical researchers working to find solutions to the deadly virus. In addition, Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, is presently shipping free medical materials to different parts of the world.

AS Roma, an Italian football club delivers groceries to fans’ homes. Manchester City FC voluntarily yields its giant Etihad stadium as quarantine site for suspected viral cases. Hyatts Hotel, Accor Hotels, and Novotel, offer guests in-room chill and sleep during this distressing period.

Big donors such as UBA, Access Bank, the Deeper Life Christian Church, and notable businessmen are also donating cash and materials worth billions to the Nigerian government.

All these may cost money. Nevertheless, they amount to brand investment. The brands receive free media publicity that costs less than the usual tags on the rates card of TV, radio and newspapers companies, and bloggers.

More, the consumers will remember these brands long term for offering rare assistance during trying time. The wider publicity and positive sentiment will aid brand experience/ exposure – ultimately termed branding. This could be the grounds for long-term patronage and new converts especially if the brands’ products are quality.

Having highlighted the ‘impact brands’, do you run a business? This may be your best chance to build your brands.

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