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How a strong purpose can steer your brand through this time of crisis

Written by Vivaldi Brand Analyst Kristin Laermann 

The COVID-19 pandemic and its global consequences for social and economic life keep the world in suspense for over two months now. While the overall dimensions of the crisis change on a daily basis, there is immense pressure on politicians to stabilize the situation. Yet, consumers also expect companies to contribute to a solution. Since many industries face massive restrictions of their usual working conditions, it requires pragmatic but precise measures to navigate a company’s brands through the crisis as unscathed as possible.

We at VIVALDI are convinced that both thoughtful communication and authenticity take top priority during such a time of crisis to avoid irreversible damage of a company’s image. But what are the right actions to take? And how can all relevant stakeholders be addressed comprehensively – from customers to employees, investors and business partners?

To start, not reacting at all to the crisis, ignoring instructions or possibly neglecting a stakeholder group can cause lasting damage to a company. Secondly, when conceiving and developing corporate actions of crisis management it is crucial to remain true to a company’s values and purpose.

What exactly is a brand purpose?

The brand purpose describes a company’s motivation, the “why” of what they are doing or their reason to exist apart from doing profitable business. An approachable purpose has to be focused on the core competencies and actual capabilities of the brand. Concurrently the needs and wishes of the customers as well as socially relevant topics and areas of responsibility must be addressed and combined to a comprehensive ambition. It’s a statement of belief and pursuit, the concrete formulation can range from an abstract to a concrete strategic goal of a brand, depending on the industry, customer structures and the company’s culture. In a comprehensive and actionable guiding principle, the purpose can be complemented by a vision, a mission and corporate values.

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So, how does that help to prevent your business from the consequences of a global pandemic? 

  1. Brand purpose as a guiding principle in crisis management

A strong, continuously cultivated purpose shapes a strong brand statement, that provides a useful basis for credible crisis management and the opportunity to position oneself as a doer in this extraordinary situation. Therefore, actions taken to cope with the virus that reflect a brands purpose will be perceived especially authentic and therefore more effective. Our CEO Erich Joachimsthaler emphasizes that “Brand values are no longer just communicated; they are delivered and experienced.” So, following this principle and really bringing to life a company’s values during these times should be the overall focus when approaching your stakeholder groups. Inversely, addressing these values throughout the process of crisis management will perspectival strengthen the purpose. That again offers companies to pursue a sustainable growth strategy even within their limited possibilities during a crisis state. For some concrete inspiration and best practices read our recent post on outstanding positive examples of reactions to the COVID-19-crisis.

  1. A Brand purpose strengthens customer relationships

Studies prove that a strong purpose enables brands to build deeper bonds with their consumers. Looking towards the worldwide challenging situation and it’s not even fully predictable impact on economy, it gets obvious that now is the time to strengthen those bonds wherever possible. Many brands underestimate that aspect and thus risk to lose the relationship to their customers. Putting your customer in focus therefore opens up the opportunity to come out of the crisis ahead of competitors instead of just surviving it. That is why we highly recommend shifting remaining resources and marketing spend into long-term marketing and brand-building activities, which leads to our third aspect:

  1. A Brand Purpose keeps strategic goals in sight

Following a dedicated brand purpose demonstrates that a company does not only understand and address the world we are living in right now, but also aims for goals and customer needs that must be faced in the future. That’s why, no matter how extraordinary the situation might be, now is also the time to reconsider strategic goals and use them to guide companies and brands though an unstable environment.

If you are interested to discuss how you can elaborate your brand’s purpose or to implement it in a comprehensive concept contact us via email or give us a call at +49 1522 9230 752 for Germany/ Europe and +1 212 965 0900 for the US.

Meet The Expert

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Björn Sander

Senior Partner

Björn has more than 20 years of international experience in brand strategy and the transformation efforts that typically follow. His core experience is in market and customer focused strategy development, business transformation programs, brand positioning, brand portfolio and architecture, strategy implementation, performance organization and performance management.