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Value-driven messaging? What’s that all about? 28th June 2020

Value-driven messaging? What’s that all about?

WHAT IS ETHICAL COMMUNICATION?

WE HAVE BEEN LIVING IN THE COVID-19 ERA FOR MONTHS NOW AND IT HAS AFFECTED EACH ONE OF US IN MULTIPLE WAYS; WE HAVE BECOME SEPARATED FROM OUR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS, OUR BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN DISRUPTED AND OUR NORMAL WAY OF LIFE TRANSFORMED BEYOND RECOGNITION. NEWS CHANNELS ARE DOMINATED BY THE PANDEMIC, IN A WAY THAT THERE IS NO, OR VERY LITTLE, ROOM FOR OTHER NEWS.

IT PAYS TO KEEP TALKING

While some companies cut marketing costs, others continue to communicate, but in a morally and ethically responsible way – which will eventually put them ahead of competitors. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, firms that cut costs faster and deeper than rivals didn’t necessarily flourish. They have the lowest probability—21%—of pulling ahead of the competition when times get better. Findings show that companies that are able to thrive follow a multipronged strategy, investing into marketing, R&D, and new assets. While some companies cut marketing costs, others continue to communicate, but in a morally and ethically responsible way – which will eventually put them ahead of competitors. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, firms that cut costs faster and deeper than rivals didn’t necessarily flourish. They have the lowest probability—21%—of pulling ahead of the competition when times get better. Findings show that companies that are able to thrive follow a multipronged strategy, investing in marketing, R&D, and new assets. According to another source, MNI Targeted Media, if companies cut deeply into advertising and communications budgets in a down period, the cost to regain a share of voice in the market once the economy turns may cost four or five times as much as the cuts saved. Just remember what Henry Ford said: “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”

HOW CAN YOU DO IT?

But how should brands go about it? What is the best way forward? How can brands be seen and heard, but also stay humble – ensuring that they aren’t perceived as unfeeling, callous or tone-deaf?  Ethical communication, showing empathy to the community and the environment, but at the same time not being pushy seems to be the way forward.

Brands that have seen success with recent campaigns are those that have publicised what the brand can do for the larger community and put less emphasis on what the product or service can do, intrinsically.

WHAT ARE THE BIG BRANDS DOING?

If we look at what giga brands are doing globally, you can see that grand altruistic gestures go a long way.  McDonald’s separated its iconic golden arch in Brazil, in a bid to show solidarity. Coca-Cola similarly made a statement by playing with its branding.  And, of course, the mega luxury group, LVMH converted its perfume factories to make hand sanitising liquid. Meanwhile, Tech giants are not launching a new product, but using their platform for a good cause – offering free digital education courses, enabling chatbots on their sites for the community to be able to communicate faster or just facilitating faster communication between companies by free webinar platforms – everyone is trying to do their part and come together as one.

WHAT ABOUT SMALLER BRANDS?

But what about the smaller brands, who are left with no budget at all, and every day is a fight for survival? Even if budgets are small or non-existent, there are still ways to raise a brand’s profile. A good example here is what we did as an agency to support one of our clients, who is in the luxury confectionery industry. Instead of pushing luxury chocolates in a time of crisis, the brand took the initiative and donated chocolates to frontline workers of hospitals across the city. It was heart-warming to see the response and created great sentiment for the brand.  And this is exactly the kind of role you want to see brands playing in these times. This has much more marketing value impact than any ad campaign.

In a nutshell – you don’t have to stop being seen and heard, but choose your communications tools prudently and think of communicating with value.

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