How brands can stay up in epidemics 

Bernard Kelvin Clive

“To have your brand deep-rooted in the hearts of clients & customers requires empathy – humanise your brand” – Bernard Kelvin Clive

Life happens! Life is filled with the unaccepted; regardless of how carefully and practically you plan, sometimes things may just go off unannounced and unexpected. What you do in times like that is as relevant as your plan.

In the throes of the current alarming epidemic, a number of brands have suffered losses and others are making gains; however, it’s not about win or lose. Yes, whatever the case some may win and others may lose, but exceptional brands that care for their people will be looking at staying relevant but not just cashing in for profit.

Today, let’s consider ways brands can stay relevant, make impact and continuously stay top of mind. I have identified 3 main ways brands can drive change regardless of ongoing cultural or global crises.

The very first thing brands can do is to prepare for the unexpected; have precautionary plans, anticipate likely mishaps, and develop strategies to handle those. If these steps are taken care of, it reduces the shock and likely negative impacts of the unforeseen and unexpected.

Here are the three main things you can do to salvage the situation:

Evaluate:

The good book has these wise words to govern us, it reads “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” – James 1:17. In times of pandemics, brands must put on their best listening ears to gather all they can before they take any other steps.

The first and most important step to take toward resolving crisis is to get all the needed information at hand. Ask all the necessary questions regarding the current happenings to understand the situation. Now, with enough data, you will be in the best position to handle and address it right.  The caveat is that in a digital era it’s easy to sample data on social media which may not be accurate; so always verify sources, get to the root for authentic messages. Once you have the needed information, you are in a good position to align that with your strategic plan to help curb the situation. You prepare, and plan how to use the information gathered effectively.

Empathise:

People love to identify with those they love and those who show them love. Great brands are people-centred; they show care and support. To move men to take action in areas you desire requires you to touch their hearts.

In times of crisis and pandemics, people get affected in many ways – which in one way or another may impact your brand. Yes, you may not have anything directly to do with them. The truth is that we are in a connected world; what affects one may eventually affect the other. If not directly, its consequences may be damaging. The best way to get your brand out there is to identify with those affected; show care, love and support. Let them know they matter.

You don’t just stop at sympathising with them: you go out to help. You offer support in as many ways as you can. At the heart of a crisis, people need support – not brands making loud noises about their products and services or trying to cash in by selling their brands. Great brands give – you can decide to offer massive discount, free gifts and offers etc.

You should consider these acts as an investment of your brand in the lives of people. It may cost you a lot, but its potential returns are huge. Your brand will be engrained in their hearts as a caring brand, and if they want to do business or recommend a product or service, surely yours will come highly recommended.

I recall one act that Nestle (GH) Ltd., did for its distributors/retailors during the erratic power outages (Dumsor) in Ghana (Accra); they gave out high quality solar-powered lamps for free. These little acts meant a lot to their distributors and retailers; and are still being talked about by some of them. One little act of empathy and support can greatly affect a brand.

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What is your brand doing for others now in the midst of a global economic crisis and pandemic? You may be on the losing end but you can still offer some support, which could be in-kind.

A kind word, well spoken; a press release; social media posts of encouragement, care and concern.

You have no idea how these little deeds can mean a lot to clients and customers.

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” —Theodore Roosevelt 

Educate:

Never stop learning: information empowers! In times of crisis, to stay on top of your game and remain relevant demands some education. Education here is in two ways: firstly, educate yourself, your brand and firm about the current situation. An uninformed staff can cause more damage to your brand. No staff should be left out, even if it’s totally unrelated to what they do. Secondly, educate the general public, clients and customers. It will interest you to know that a number of them are totally ignorant and at risk of deception by the masses. Make it a point to share useful resources to help clients and customers understand the current situation and what they can do about it.

If you have an online presence, post relevant information about the situation; you could use infographics, videos, podcasts, images etc. You should share this content in addition to your brand digital strategies. One shouldn’t override the other. A balanced approach is needed during the educational process. You are giving something to the public and you are subtly promoting your brand.

The key take-home for brands is this: in times of crisis, evaluate the situation, empathise with clients and educate them. If you blend these things effectively, your brand will stay top of mind.

Personal brands: Making the most of your quarantine period (Solitude)

How to maximise your ‘Stay-at-Home’ season

“It is reminding us of how important our family and home life is, and how much we have neglected this. It is forcing us back into our houses so we can rebuild them into our home and strengthen our family unit.” – Bill Gates

Here are a number of ideas and activities you can consider to maximise the moment.

  1. Introspection: Sit back and review your life, take stock of where you’ve been, what you’ve done and where you are going. It’s a good time to reassess your life. Ask yourself questions, be hard on yourself and gradually get answers to them.
  2. 2. Relax: Take time to slow down, have a good rest as much as you can; your body and your mind need it. Don’t get too busy, take it easy on yourself.
  3. Read books (materials): Use this period as an opportunity to read some books. Read at your own pace and add to your knowledge. Subscribe to useful online newsletters, magazines and blogs.
  4. Listen to audiobooks: One of the quickest ways to consume content is by listening to the audios. Get as many audio books as you can; listen intentionally, listen while doing chores; let it just play in the background. For your kids, Amazon has made available its audible platform for kids all over the world to listen to a huge collection of stories for free as along as schools are closed. Visit https://stories.audible.com/start-listen
  5. Enjoy music: Create your own playlist of your favourite tracks and enjoy. [I’m currently enjoying my classical playlist]
  6. Write a book: Your story is unique; someone needs to read it. Your wisdom is great, share it with the world. Begin today, just write! [Send me a mail if you desire to write a book]
  7. Kid’s Time: If you are blessed with children, use this period as an opportunity to bond better, get to know them well. Play fun games with them. I bet this will be one of the best investments and memories you’ll never regret.
  8. Learn a skill: Pick any area you’d like to learn and delve deeper. Take an online course or coaching. Add to what you already know. Enrich yourself.
  9. Practice your craft: if you had always wanted to paint, do it. Try some new recipes. Dare something and do it!
  10. Drive-Through: Not a time for fast-food joints but time for taking in the woods or hood. Drive slowly through town, observing nature and savouring the moments. Observe all those things you’ve been missing in your daily commute. [This will not be appropriate if your city is in lockdown]
  11. Teach a course online: Share your expertise, either as a side-gig or voluntary activity. Many online platforms offer such opportunities e.g. teachable.com, skillshare.com, udemy.comor you may want to start a YouTube channel. All these could help with some extra income as well.
  12. Spark up the love: If you are blessed to be married, make the most of the moment. Revive the love and romance in your marriage. If in a relationship, get creative with SMS to keep the love going.
  13. Seek God: Get to know your creator the more; spend time praying and listening to God’s voice. It’s good time to invest in prayers. Pray for the affected, pray for family & friends and pray for the world.
  14. Plan Properly: A good time to look at your schedules in life. If you do not have any, then make some; set goals and targets to pursue. Plan your career. The aftermath of the crisis will have an impact on many careers; think ahead, plan and prepare.
  15. Healthy lifestyle: Check your diet to ensure you have a well-balanced diet. Exercise daily to stay in shape and healthy.
  16. Reconsider your Relationships: it’s a good time to prune, know those to whom you really matter and those who matter to you as well. There are levels of relationships, and not everyone should have a front row seat in your life; cut off those you need to, and nurture the ones that needs it. Nurture the good ones and disconnect from the negative ones.
  17. Create your gratitude list: One of the most fruitful habits to develop in a season like this is gratitude. Be thankful for all the things you have around you. Daily, reach out and thank people who are being supportive. Thank God for life. Stay thankful and don’t nurse any ungrateful spirit to rob you of your joy and blessings.
  18. 18. Don’t fret: Breaking news here and there may cause some level of anxiety, but don’t entertain fear; activate your faith in times like these. When you harbour fear, it weakens even your immune system. You may have a cause to be afraid, but focus on possibilities, the best that could ever happen. Stay hopeful, it’s helpful in times like these. Believe and expect the best.
  19. Live simply: Don’t complicate things for yourself. This season reminds us of the little pleasures of life. Enjoy them!
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Bernard Kelvin Clive is an Author, Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Africa’s foremost author(ity) on Personal Branding. An Amazon bestselling author of over 40 published books. As a speaker & trainer he has been known to simplify complex ideas about branding and life and present them to audiences in clear, actionable steps. He has over a decade of experience in digital publishing and has globally consulted for entrepreneurs, pastors, and people like you to write books and build brands. He hosts the number-one ranked Career & Business Podcast in Ghana. Bernard is a brand strategist at BKC Consulting, and runs the monthly Branding & Publishing Masterclass.

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