A quick note about brand during a time when brands should act, not brand
There is a long history of companies using a social cause as a branding element, but the speed at which branding has re-tooled for this particular Crisis demonstrates the very tight, very calculated connection between the two.
This is not the time to Brand Harder; it is not just another Brand-able Occasion.
Four examples made me believe that some companies haven’t been able to break the fourth wall of opportunism:
A car company voice-over of empty scenic winding roads, “Usually we are talking about our cars, but we instead want to use this advertising spot to pass on a gentle message of support and care, which is also what our integrated vehicle safety system does for its passengers, by the way…”
…A B&W photo of a doctor’s face, deeply indented skin from wearing a mask, marks of her effort and empathy. The brand voice-over says, “We at [beauty care company] believe you are beautiful.”
…An incantation of the non-binding phrase, “We stand behind our front line workers”, who are generally the lowest paid, and have to do the same disinfection work that has been instituted by the company to protect them.
…A bank that says, “We are protecting your savings, providing loans for your small business, and easing your debt burdens” — which is claiming credit for government support and mandated action — “and reducing credit card interest rates from 30% to 15.99%**”
This is our fault too, as consumers: we made you who you are. But is this really the time to Brand Harder? Is this just another Brand-able Occasion? Maybe it is the time to use those special powers of supply chain management, productivity, inventiveness and cash surplus from low corporate taxes to communicate your values through action. To peek over the fence that bounds business cases. To understand, simply, that you are made of people. Listen to those people; right now their grassroots actions, their empathy and community assistance define a real brand of humanity.