Coming out of COVID-19 with positive brand momentum

Coronavirus brand strategy for restaurants, hotels, and beverage brands

Let’s state the obvious: During this COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants are being left without dining rooms, and sometimes without essential staff. Operating in your core competencies—serving food to restaurant patrons—is severely hampered. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a drive-thru or a strong delivery business, you, like all of us, are left asking some extremely important questions. The most important of which is, “how do we get through this and weather the storm?

While there are no simple answers to surviving the economic halt this pandemic has caused, there does exist an even greater question in the nuance of the word, “how.” How you get through this will determine how your brand recovers post-pandemic. I’m not talking about marketing tactics and deals/promotions. I’m talking about the actions your brand will take and the manner in which you take them.

This is the time to transcend the surface answer of “we feed people” and discover a deeper sense of brand purpose and how it manifests in real life. It’s time to leverage your values to fuel customer engagement, innovation, and opportunity not only to survive COVID-19, but to come out of it with more momentum behind your brand than it’s ever had before.

How is that possible? The simple, yet difficult answer is this: dig into your values and turn them into action. Live your “why,” your brand’s purpose, in your circle of influence and the world around you.

If that sounds a little woo, or even detached from the harsh realities of slumping sales and the need to conserve as much cash as possible, let me propose that living your brand values is the most practical thing to do not only in a crisis but at any time. After all, what you do during a crisis very much dictates the believability of your claims during good times. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” And nothing could be truer at this moment.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Dr. Martin Luther King

So, how does this come to life for you and your brand? Rather than wax on philosophically, here are some examples of core values (you shouldn’t have too many, or they’re not core), and some ways to act on them:

Value: Convenience

Action: create an LTO family meal engage your owned audience around third party delivery so they don’t even have to pick up.

Value: a moment of fun

Action: re-think your social engagement from a standpoint of empathy for restless families stuck at home and provide novel, brand-connected ways to play games, engage each other, and learn

Value: wellness

Action: promote a free small item for healthcare workers, or better yet, cater a meal to their break room and share the experience via social

Value: friendship

Action: encourage your community manager to engage 1:1 with patrons on social and share something positive about those patrons to your larger audience

Value: taking care of the team

Action: educate your team on how to take advantage of the coronavirus stimulus check, or set up a GoFundMe campaign for an employee in a time of particular crisis

These are just a few ways that your brand values can lead to meaningful action, which in turn drives engagement from loyal patrons and the larger community alike. The re-tooling needed to achieve these efforts becomes a natural source of innovation that can serve long after Coronavirus has bit the dust. Your brand’s values should directly dictate the actions taken to prove to the world around you that you genuinely mean them.

Speaking of which, we’re reminding our clients every chance we get that this crisis will not last forever, but what people remember about their response very well could. How will people remember your brand when all of this is over? Hopefully, as a company that feeds people in more ways than one, and a brand that has doubled up on its promises.

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