The Oxford English dictionary describes solution as a means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation. Difficult seems woefully inadequate when it comes to describing Covid-19 and the current situation. We are living in ambiguous times, grappling with both the existential and the fundamental, often at the same time. One can only speculate on the ultimate impact of the pandemic on our society, our economy and ourselves.
As people, we are confronted by many questions. What is our role in this time of human crisis? How do we respond to the changes around us? What actions should we take to prepare ourselves for when the crisis passes? And, most importantly, how do we navigate the now?
Brands are no different. If we have learned anything from our past, it is that hard times need us to be resilient. And like people, only resilient brands will survive and bounce back.
Resilience is the true north in times of crisis. This simple human truth guides the most compelling business solutions in times of crisis. This is a time for transformation and not transaction, an opportunity for brands to come closer to the communities they cohabit. Since the outbreak we have seen some very simple but very effective and evocative examples of brands connecting with communities. In each instance brands have used different delivery mechanisms and creative renditions and yet the most compelling solutions share a common DNA.
Human. We are struggling at a human level. Our response too must be human. Empathy needs to be the driving force behind any human solution for it to be successful, and this is even more pronounced in times of a crisis. Early in the outbreak when fear and uncertainty clouded our minds, we saw some great brand initiatives to confront and combat the fear of the unknown with knowledge.
Lifebouy’s print ad extolling the importance of washing hands while it acknowledged competition brands is one such wonderful example. A simple piece of communication that let us know that we were all in this together and there was a way to beat this. At the same time Apollo Hospitals deployed an AI-powered BOT to assess an individual’s risk of contracting Covid-19 by leveraging its data and global sources of health information. Two very different ways to connect, one a lot simpler and the other more complex, both delivered across different platforms, and yet both addressed the same problem. They both gave us the confidence to fight fear.
Responsible. This is also a time for brands to look beyond business benefits, this is a time to build trust. We have seen many brands connecting with communities by acknowledging their responsibility to society. Many brands have actively helped promote various fund raising drives to support the less fortunate. Others have focused on the menace of fake news and misinformation which often cause people to make ill-informed choices and erode trust in society. TikTok’s campaign, #MatkarForward is a notable example of a brand presenting a solution that is both responsible and relevant. The campaign directed by filmmaker Anurag Basu uses celebrity power to convince netizens to stop forwarding videos which do not have verified information.
Relevant. Solutions are not about products or platforms. They are about people. With Tide’s #Angelsinwhite campaign, P&G reached out to healthcare workers to appreciate their immense contribution in the face of Covid-19. An obvious act in the current situation, but one that was necessary to acknowledge. In association with Apollo Hospitals and Doctors For You, the outreach program touched 25000 healthcare heroes across seven cities. Tide celebrated the human spirit of resilience and selflessness with #Angelsinwhite. It created a moment for us to pause and reflect.
In every instance we have seen brands connecting deeply by creating communication that was human, responsible and relevant. In times like these, effective communication is the most effective business solution.