Is our communication and content output re–defining company culture and brand values?

There will, inevitably, come a time where we will have to look back and consider our footprint through the lockdown. When we do regroup and recalibrate will we be surprised at, or prepared for, a seismic shift in perceptions of our corporate culture and brand values? Right now, there is an opportunity for brands across almost any vertical to showcase how they are helping the community, customers and their employees.

Authenticity is winning out. If we have to think too hard or strategise too much about the type of content to share during this time, it’s probably not right. Organisations with authenticity at the heart of their brand values face the ultimate litmus test during disruptive times…and this is a biggie. Being intuitive and sharing content that resonates on a personal level will create rapport and affinity. The Lego Group has been displaying its corporate culture through fun, virtual communications and activities. LinkedIn also hosts a singing competition with over 85 of its staff children. The independents in villages and towns are also pivoting to keep their businesses going and do their bit. Independent book shops are taking orders and delivering, as are local bakeries and farm shops with their messages and ‘good news’ stories being spread far and wide.

Working From Home

Who knows what the future world of working will look like. Enforced WFH has given rise to many organisations including brands, agencies and charities to reconsider their team structures and geography. Whatever WFH may look like and however it may evolve, for now we’re all at home – probably in trackie bottoms and editing a whole new lifestyle for ourselves. Whilst still engaging in the unity of the situation, the tone of comms can be more relaxed. We’re all looking for a laugh break at this point, right? A realistic glimpse into one another’s home life is a comforting reassurance of togetherness, even if it is the kids bombing a Zoom meeting and wailing about the whereabouts of the Haribo stash between distance learning lessons.

There’s no need to create a library of Dante on the back wall for the video view, but we probably don’t want to see a private magazines collection either. Share what is relevant to you; it might be the nearest bluebell walk, brilliant read, local support group, yoga session or co-curricular resource for kids. Whatever you connect with personally is likely to be received as it is intended, authentic and non-promotional.

We’re in this together!

Many organisations are focusing on solidarity and togetherness #InItTogether. Showing sensitivity to the network doesn’t have to equate to silence. Showing empathy is far better than staying quiet.

Corporate responsibility is of great significance and what we do now will matter a great deal in the future. L’Oreal recently announced their European Solidarity Programme to contribute towards the Covid-19 fight and LVMH have successfully pivoted their production strategy to help meet increasing demands for medical supplies. Even schools have been utilising closed DT departments and producing masks for the NHS. Amazon have also stepped forward and created a relief fund to invest in small businesses who are feeling the economic pressure of Covid-19.

Internally, the golden rule of crisis comms has never been more appropriate with transparent and regular communication at the forefront. If furloughing staff or making tough organisational changes, it is important to show the thought process and explain the rationale. Furloughed staff may not be able to engage in work but enabling a sense of belonging and social participation is much welcomed. Many are still enjoying ‘Thirsty Thursday’ virtual drinks with their colleagues as well as the off-line banter. There could be a real danger of creating a new category in society where furloughed staff are perceived as social pariahs. We all need to be mindful these people haven’t left the organisation, they are temporarily not working.

How to manage productivity through this time, even for organisations who ordinarily prefer a macro approach is very salient. Bear in mind that some staff will welcome a more micro style that sets clear targets and deliverables whilst they work from home and adjust to changes in circumstance. It is unrealistic to expect 100% productivity at the best of times but supporting the physical and mental health needs to be a priority.  Staff should be encouraged to diarise exercise, hang out with the kids, walk the dog and even schedule lunch. BT regularly share productivity tips on how their workforce and network are WFH ready and BP have openly thanked their employees for keeping operations running smoothly.

This is also an opportune time to quietly upskill. ‘How-to’ content is abundant and even the most brilliant video production companies are telling us exactly how they do it. Only last month, even before the lock-down, the Evening Standard reported on a digital skills gap in the face of the UK housing more tech “unicorns” than any other European countries. With face-to-face events cancelled and a changing landscape of communication, Ranieri Digital Strategies has been busy re-routing marketing budgets into digital-led strategies and services. Brands still have products to launch, media to engage with and content to produce. If you don’t have those skills, there are plenty of resources and toolkits being shared on-line now.

It is easy to fade to black when times are bad but stepping up, providing brand leadership and filling the void with positivity is a better long–term answer for brands seeking loyal and lasting connections.

Create differentiation. Talk to people. Show what you are doing. Learn more. Adapt.