Think of the most professional, blue chip businesses you worked with prior to COVID-19, and what it was like to experience those brands.
When I think of some of the global brands we work with, I think about why I had respect for them; their tone of voice, their personality as a business and their consistency of brand. Arriving at their offices would be a pleasurable, exciting experience; I’d be wowed by the decor, smiled at by their people, welcomed like a friend. Video calls office to office gave confidence in their facilities, equipment, working procedures and tone of voice. It gave us the feeling that we wanted and needed to partner with businesses like this.
Compare that with the experience today, where many of these companies are still working from home and communication is mostly via Zoom or Teams. Would you go to work having not had a shower, a shave, done your hair or gotten dressed appropriately? Would you invite your audiences to have a look around your bedroom, look at your dirty laundry or try to talk to them next to a spinning washing machine? Would you accept poor quality internet, low quality audio and web cameras in the office? We’ve seen some very interesting video angles over the last few months!
All this adds up to a completely different brand experience to what you’re used to.
You must give your audiences confidence, even if the way you work and where you work from may have changed. Explain the processes you have put in place, how you have adapted – and how it’s business as usual in unusual times!
Now, I completely appreciate that this situation is far from normal and everyone needs to be a little more forgiving. But it does look like working in this way is here to stay for some time yet – some say forever – so we must start to think about how our brands are presented in our new world, and adapt accordingly. As time goes on, people will be a lot less forgiving and they’ll start to judge your brand if it begins to fall behind.
Tidying up a Zoom call is just the tip of the iceberg. More important is how you might need to change your offering and messaging as a business. Will you need to reposition your brand to your audiences, or adapt your suite of products or services? Will you need to evolve your brand to best fit the changing world? For example, a printer may now be offering printed COVID-19 shop signs. Some telecoms companies are offering more work from home solutions and holiday companies are leading with COVID-19 safety procedures rather than white beaches and luxury hotels. Brands need to lead with a message of reassurance – that COVID-19 has been considered, and that you will be safe and protected on a personal and financial level.
Equally, companies that are thriving during COVID-19 cannot be seen to be celebrating while others are experiencing one of the worst times in their lives. Secure, flourishing businesses need to ensure their tone is supporting and caring, giving back to those that need them the most – and in turn, their audiences will respect them and their brand even more.
Another thing to consider is how your teams communicate with your customers. Is the message professional and consistent? Conversations with customers on Zoom or Teams from home can suddenly become very personal, and people often say things that could be damaging. We all let our guard down more when working from home – so ensuring your teams know there are still rules will help reduce this risk.
So, here are some simple things to consider to help protect your brand during COVID-19.
- Add “Video Meetings” to your brand guidelines. Set some rules, a dress code and create simple backdrops if necessary that people can use from home
- Create a guide to video call etiquette
- Ensure your teams have the right equipment to work remotely
- Ensure your video meeting invites are clear, professional and branded if possible
- Make sure your teams are trained on how to use your chosen video meeting software
- Sanity check your messaging for today’s world – and adapt if necessary
- Prioritise your offering. Some services and products may be less important and others may be in great demand. Ensure your marketing materials reflect this
- Make sure everyone else at home knows the rules, including the hours you are working
- Arrive to video calls on time and don’t make excuses that are not related to business
- Be well prepared for your meetings. Set extra time before a meeting to make sure you’re ready. This will save time in the long run
- Create a schedule for your video meetings with an end time. It’s very easy to go off topic when someone has a new puppy in the background!
- Make sure your location is well lit and your audio is clear
- Reassure your audiences. Just because you are working from home does not mean you will provide a lower level of service. Explain what changes you have made as a business to serve your audiences
Your brand is more important than ever. While others neglect their brands during turbulent times, you can strengthen yours. Respect your brand and give it the care it deserves at all times.
Don’t let COVID-19 kill your brand.