If your business is communicating in the same way it did before the COVID-19 pandemic started, chances are good that your brand messaging isn’t resonating the way it once did. Brand messaging refers to your brand’s communications in all channels (e.g., website, social, email, etc.).
Whether you’re starting a new business or trying to grow an existing one, how you communicate impacts whether you build and grow a sustainable business.
Here are three insights to help you evolve your brand messaging for the new normal:
1. Audit messaging for topics that no longer apply.
If you’re writing a business plan for a company you plan to launch, you can build strategies for the new normal and differentiate from entrenched businesses that have failed to evolve their messaging. If you run an existing business, then you must assess how the post-COVID-19 world impacts your business. Every business needs to adapt and evolve in order to survive and thrive. In fact, just in 2020 alone, a record 46 companies with at least $1 billion in assets have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
So many aspects of daily life have changed since the coronavirus entered our lives. Your brand messaging for the new normal must reflect these changes.
Here are a few obvious topics that may create friction with customers and prospects:
- large social gatherings;
- physical interactions between people outside of their homes;
- coughing or sneezing without covering the face;
- face-touching; and
- crowded restaurants, offices or stores.
Does your legacy communication include recommendations or language that no longer apply? Do the photos or videos on your website or those you share on social networks depict behavior that’s no longer appropriate? Audit your current messaging and cull out any references to group events that can no longer be attended, as well as activities or personal practices that are no longer safe. Avoid making statements that are out of touch with our current reality. Otherwise, you’ll look clueless (at best) or callous (at worst).
2. Authenticity is more important than ever.
Authentic business interactions have been in demand for some time. This trend of prioritizing honesty and human connection has grown even more important as businesses adapt to the new normal. We’re currently facing more large-scale, shared uncertainty than most people have experienced since the last world war. The pandemic has attacked multiple fronts — health, social interaction, finance, education, labor, and more. Its impact is hard to avoid. Uncertainty and anxiety make people yearn for stability — for people and brands they can trust. Furthermore, authentic, human-driven business practices build trust. They reassure people that there’s a port in the storm.
As you update your marketing strategy, consider your brand and what it stands for. Then look for ways to engage with your audience over your shared common ground. Social media marketing is a great channel for these kinds of more intimate interactions. And as you craft every new brand message, speak from a place of authenticity. Be honest about what your company is facing. Be open about the values that drive your business. And, above all, be real.
For example, if you’re trying to create value based on the way you price your products or services, it’s perfectly fine to leverage marketing psychology and principles like the decoy effect to persuade people to buy specific products or services. However, your pricing should be real and authentic. Don’t just create random products or service packages that feel inauthentic or contrived. People will notice.
3. Create consistent, strategy-driven messaging.
In order to ensure that your brand messaging is effective, you should build a strategy and define certain key elements that will complement and help you communicate your brand messaging. This is sometimes called the brand messaging framework, and it contains these elements:
- Brand promise: What you actually do.
- Brand positioning statement: How you differentiate in the marketplace.
- Target audience: Conduct market research and assess your target audience. Focus on their pain, their needs, and their desires.
- Mission: Why does your company exist, and what values are essential?
- Voice: Knowing your brand’s personality will help you to develop your brand voice and tone of voice.
- Elevator pitch: How would you describe your brand in one sentence? How about in one minute?
- Your unique selling proposition (USP): This is what your business stands for. For example, Apple’s USP is found in “user experience.” Everything it does is meant to have the user at its core.
The companies that are flexible and evolve their brand messaging to adapt to the pandemic and beyond are the ones that will succeed. How are you evolving your brand messaging?