It is no longer acceptable to focus on short-term gains as brand marketing is now a long-term game, where our value and connection with the public are vital. We need to adopt a new mindset as to how we interact and do business in the new virtual normal. These are things that will help us to thrive, connect more meaningfully and to reap the rewards of our endeavours beyond the current crisis.
Take Pret a Manger whose CEO Pano Christou recently said: “The Pret family and the whole world are in unchartered territory, and it is important that we show solidarity and stand by each other in this difficult time.”
The brand demonstrated this by reopening 10 of its shops close to hospitals, offering a 50% discount to NHS workers and donating 7000 meals a week to its homeless charity partners supporting the most vulnerable. Christou also took the time to thank NHS workers for their hard work in a blog post which quickly gained public support. This connection with the public where Christou establishes his personal brand as a way to humanise the Pret brand and provide a face behind the company that people can relate to, will make them more likely to support the brand in the future.
Burberry has taken a fourfold approach by repurposing it’s Yorkshire trench coach factory to produce gowns and masks; funding research into a single-dose vaccine by Oxford University; using its supply chain to fast track the delivery of 100,000 surgical masks and finally donating to charities tackling food poverty including The Felix Project and FareShare.
It’s CEO Marco Gobbetti commented, “The whole team at Burberry is very proud to be able to support those who are working tirelessly to combat Covid-19, whether by treating patients, working to find a vaccine solution or helping provide food supplies to those in need at this time.”
Gobbetti positioning himself as the face of the brand has shown how Burberry can be adaptable in times of need by stepping up to give back and be of service. Again, through Gobbetti’s personal brand he is strengthening the company’s brand in a positive way that resonates with the public, and is controlling the narrative that is shared about the brand - namely that they are a market leader with expertise that can be used for the greater good.
L'Oreal has played their part by donating more than 500,000 hygiene and hand sanitizers to frontline healthcare workers in the UK and Ireland, as well as donating 300,000 hand sanitisers to frontline retail staff. It has also donated 10,000 examination gloves to the London Ambulance Service as well as 10,00 boxed sterile gloves.
L’Oreal’s CEO Jean-Paul Agon, has utilised his personal brand as a platform to demonstrate how the brand is stepping up both here in the UK and in France. He is also creating an opportunityf or business growth by getting the brand’s products out to potential customers who may never have considered the brand before. He is connecting the brand with the public in a more meaningful way, which will benefit the L’Oreal brand well beyond the crisis.
Mercedes AMG HPP has adopted a collaborative approach working with University College London to manufacture continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices. They delivered 10,000 devices within one month and then went on to repurpose its entire facility in Brixworth Northamptonshire to produce 1,000 devices a day.
This demonstrates that sometimes to achieve business growth, organisations need to collaborate to add the greatest value, and create a pool of shared expertise. The fact that they have also freely shared details of how to make the device so others can benefit from this is a way of demonstrating generosity with their expertise and getting the brand out there in a meaningful way that people will remember.
The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation has adopted a much more global response by undertaking several measures including donating to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity to enable it to purchase specialist machines to test for COVID-19 in cancer sufferers. This is alongside its commitment of $10 million to help its teams, partners and communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic through the Emergency Assistance Foundation for Ralph Lauren and the World Health Organisation COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. It has also donated to the Council of Fashion Designers of America and is producing masks and gowns.
As their Chief Creative Officer recently commented “For more than 50 years, we have embraced the idea of timelessness — focusing on what lasts. … And as we face the implications of this global pandemic, it will remain our guiding principle so that we will not only endure this crisis but thrive again for years to come.” RalphLauren has used this crisis as an opportunity to reaffirm what the organisation stands for, their overriding mission and how they are adding value to create trust in their brand.
There is no one size fits all brand strategy to adopt. It doesn’t matter how big or small the contribution you make is, what is key is that you show up and demonstrate how you and your company are adding value. Connecting your personal brand with your organisation or company brand, adds a human element that we all can relate to, which builds trust in your brand. People remember those brands that have contributed positively long after the crisis has passed. So use this time wisely to create trust and authenticity in your personal and company brands whilst seeking out opportunities for business growth - as finding ways to connect more meaningfully will benefit you and the organisation both now and in the future.