We’re all well aware by now of the unprecedented changes to our daily life due to the COVID-19 virus. Businesses are asking people to work from. Schools are closing. Citizens are being asked to practice social distancing. Stores are being wiped out of goods. As disruptive as this is, we’re all in this together and need to do our part to help prevent the spread of the virus. People and businesses will surely be affected one way or the other through all of this. How people and businesses react during this critical time can really affect their brand reputation (https://www.marketing91.com/brand-reputation/).
First, let’s look at the negative side to this. A New York Times article came out in early March (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/14/technology/coronavirus-purell-wipes-amazon-sellers.html) about two brothers who scooped up as many bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes specifically to make money during this world-wide crisis. Amazon and eBay shut down sellers who are price-gouging customers for the products at this time. The brand reputation for these brothers couldn’t go any lower in my opinion.
On the flip side, there was a Forbes article (https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexkonrad/2020/03/13/zoom-video-coronavirus-eric-yuan-schools/) showing how Zoom CEO Eric Yuan is providing zoom tools for K-12 schools for free. With all of the unexpected recent school closings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, this is how you make your brand look amazing. This is one of the several things zoom is putting in place during this time. The generosity from zoom really makes their brand reputation skyrocket. My favorite quote from the article:
Zoom’s CEO instructed staff not to ramp up sales or marketing due to the coronavirus crisis. “If you leverage this opportunity for money, I think that’s a horrible culture.”
Below is a comparison of stock value during the same time period of the crisis with google. Google is a major technology company with it’s own video conferencing tool, hangouts, which is a competitor to zoom.
While Zoom made their brand look great by providing a need, other companies can make their brand look good by not sending out the wrong messaging during this time. Using the appropriate messaging and sentiment during this crisis can affect a brand’s reputation (https://www.forbes.com/sites/paultalbot/2020/03/19/how-the-coronavirus-pandemic-impacts-marketing-strategy/).
An example of this is how Coors and Hershey’s both pulled ads because they did not deliver the appropriate messaging. With the coronavirus, we’re being asked to socially distance ourselves from one another. Hershey’s had an advertising campaign that focused on giving hugs and handshakes to strangers. Hershey recognized their ad completely conflicts with our current situation. Also, many in the workforce are having to work from home during the crisis. Coors pulled a campaign titled, “Official Beer of ‘Working’ Remotely” which is insensitive to people working remotely during this time. (https://www.marketingdive.com/news/hershey-coors-pull-ads-to-avoid-coronavirus-insensitivities/573927/)
Ultimately, if you think about the customer’s experience and journey, your brand will look favorable in many ways.