Over the past weeks, we’ve transitioned to a new life at home, the place where everything now happens with little exception; a blurred, ever-shifting diagram dividing work, our relationships, family life, and rest. In this way, coronavirus has become the great equalizer. The pandemic has also clarified the differences between how we live our lives and the support we’re able to receive, or not. It has swiftly and single-handedly altered our needs as people. It has forced us to prioritize what matters most and accept what’s out of reach.
As a result, we have competing practical needs; dependable information, access to income, food, childcare, the ability to help others, and new skills to help ourselves navigate what we used to rely on services for. These are all now top of mind—a moving target of priorities with a different urgency than we’re accustomed to.
Our emotional needs, though, don’t have to be as elusive. Despite social distancing and self-quarantine, we have the ability, the responsibility, to turn towards one another, even if remotely. The opportunity to listen, to help where possible, to empathize, be optimistic, to relate—the opportunity to tap into a human mindset is now. It won’t cure COVID-19, but a human mindset is among what we need most to stay afloat. Simple practices that elevate our spirit and connect us to others can go far and don’t need to compete with priorities or put us in harm’s way.
The same opportunity is true for brands.
If you are a leader within an organization, consider this: What is the mindset of your brand during this time, and how might your brand tap into the human qualities necessary to meaningfully connect with your audience?
Here are four considerations to get started.
Adopt an ethos of service.
Whatever industry your brand is in, now is the time to adopt a service mentality. Consider the resources you have available and imagine how they might be used to contribute to the needs of your customers and beyond. Identify an opportunity to help and make it happen.
In the world—An early example of adapting an ethos of service is LVMH who transformed their perfume and cosmetics factories to produce free hand sanitizer in France.
To consider—What service is your brand uniquely positioned to offer people during the pandemic? How might you activate it within the next week? At a local scale? A global scale?
Send a virtual care package.
Finding opportunities to extend the spirit of your brand to people who are homebound is a simple way to stay connected and provide respite from news alerts. Success isn’t measured in dollars spent, rather in feelings felt.
In the world—Scribe, a wine producer and vineyard in Sonoma known for its casual warmth and strong sense of community, has sent patrons its winery playlist so they can recreate a little bit of the Scribe experience in their home.
To consider—Identify a feeling that reflects the soul of your brand. How might you extend that feeling to customers virtually over the coming days?
Provide immediate, material relief.
For reasons beyond the current pandemic, trust is at an all-time low and people are craving honest, results-oriented leadership more than ever. In the truest sense, today’s actions speak considerably louder than words. By reflecting on the emotional and practical needs of your customers and taking decisive, immediate steps to support them, brands are positioned to forge stronger relationships than ever.
In the world—One example of note is Unilever’s effort to ease financial instability, by pledging early payment for their most vulnerable small and medium-sized suppliers.
To consider—What tangible actions can your brand put into motion today that will solidify and communicate commitment to your customers?
Initiate conversation, then let others do the talking.
Despite social distancing, helping people feel that they are part of a community is a powerful thing. By enabling the voices, experiences, and perspectives of people to be heard, not only is a forum to contribute established, but the potential for impact is broadened.
In the world—At the local level, Nextdoor’s #icanhelpchallenge is activating communities by providing a forum for neighbors to volunteer their time in support of others.
To consider—How might your brand elevate the voices, stories, and needs of your customers? What grassroots initiatives can your brand enable or strengthen?
Today, everything counts. Every behavior, gesture, and message, however small. Whether you’re an individual, a two-person startup or a Fortune 100 corporation, the opportunity for meaningful connection is the same. It starts with prioritizing people and embracing a human mindset.
Peter Antonelli is Chief Creative Officer at Emotive Brand in Oakland, California.