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Why Business As Usual Is Bad For Business
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by CHELSEA HINKEL

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Practical tips for brand communication during the early days of an unfolding, unprecedented crisis

A short time into the new home-work-school do everything all in one place routine we’ve developed on the fly, we’re all ready to go back to the way things were just a few short weeks, but what feels like a lifetime, ago. While this way of working and living may not be the “new normal” as some people are claiming, it certainly is our short-term reality. Brands would be wise to recognize that new reality. While the vast majority of brands are appropriately communicating that they are with people at this fraught time, there are outliers going on with their special promotions and scheduled posts. 

It goes without saying that brands showing a kind of tone-deafness are gaining no new fans and losing the respect of those with whom they’ve worked to build a relationship. While we’re all sailing these unknown seas, brands can be sure that communicating as if nothing has changed is not a good strategy, nor is over-communicating to everyone to ever come in contact with your brand or as Fast Company says “Why every brand you’ve ever bought something from is sending you coronavirus emails.” To help navigate the unknown, we’ve put together some brand essentials for these uncertain times. 

Targeting and Tiering

Everyone in brand communications knows about levels for outbound emails. Some communication goes out to your brand’s most loyal fans, while others go to those with a passing interest in your brand. As in other (less fraught) times, brand communications should be targeted toward certain tiered audiences. What’s happening right now is that everyone is getting every single brand communication, and it’s overflowing our inboxes. People who signed up for a brand’s email list 10 years ago to get 15% off don’t really need to know your brand’s Coronavirus policy. Target and tier your brand communications. 

Turn Off Your Promotional Pushes

While brands are understandably nervous about this new reality and their long-term prospects (who isn’t?), now is not the time to brazenly sell your brand’s products. Turn off your promotional emails right now. No one cares about $39 flights when the airports are intermittently filled with people desperately trying to get home to their families or ghost towns because who wants to fly somewhere to shelter in place? People are not in the headspace to look for deals for the future. That may change the longer we are sheltering at home, but for now, create brand value by thinking creatively about your contribution. 

Lead with Empathy

It’s no secret that some brands have an easier time with empathy than others, based on their brand promise and the values they live out. But at this moment we really are all in this together. Finding a way to authentically contribute to conversations and use the strength of your brand to build community will have a powerful and lasting impact far beyond this moment. In a recent news piece on empathy-led branding, we describe how brands can become more human in these times of challenge and change. Looking through the lens of humanity will help brands clarify what is important in this moment. 

Embrace Change

Humans crave the knowable. We love structure and schedule. In the face of a global pandemic, we’ve all necessarily upended our routines and suddenly become our children’s new homeschool teachers (much to their chagrin). As people juggle the demands of work and family while we shelter at home, brands that provide some respite from this chaos are our new brand heroes. Whether it’s help with the bills, groceries delivered to the doorstep or digital entertainment for kids while their parents catch their breath, some brands are stepping up to the moment in unprecedented ways. How will you help?

In an upcoming Perspective article, we will look at those brands that are rising to the challenge during these unsure times. Have an example of a brand doing good right now? Ping us via email or on our social channels. If you’d like to speak with one of brand communication experts, contact us at info@adrenalineagency.com.



Adrenaline is an experience design agency that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.


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