Creativity is not cancelled – this is its time to shine

How brands can become more creative in connecting with their audiences

Our world is changing and as we keep apart to stay together, unlike humans, brands cannot isolate themselves so easily. With the full effects of the COVID-19 outbreak not yet known, brands need to adopt more creative and innovative ways to ensure the continued health of both their audiences and business. Three key areas brands can pivot towards include providing meaningful content, working with authentic influencers that align with their values, and amplify their messaging using digital platforms.

Meaningful Content

Brands need to rapidly switch from being reactive to moving towards making a real contribution in the current, hugely challenging environment. Beyond the immediate response, when facing something like COVID-19 the response to people’s feelings is going to be critical. To do so effectively, brands must suspend their own viewpoint and speak to people’s current needs and offer support. It is important to align the brand’s response with its existing positioning and values or it will seem inauthentic. Ultimately it is about how brands can improve their relevance in a time of need and offer support that resonates with the brand’s community.

At times like these, creativity is more important than ever and is acting as a bond that enables people to come together. Consumers are increasingly looking towards brands as pillars of strength.

In just a few short weeks we have seen brands offering engaging and positive content across a wide variety of topics. Examples of meaningful content shared include encouraging social-distancing, advice on work from home, facilitating online workouts, mindfulness sessions and supporting charities, frontline workers and using their specific expertise to help the national response to Covid-19.

Influencers

Events, travel plans, and other social gatherings may be cancelled, but creativity is not. We’ve seen influencers adapt to changing circumstances quickly, sharing indoor lifestyle content, DIY tips, recipes, movie and book recommendations, to spread positivity and creativity to audiences. This may be an unprecedented time that has challenged, among many things how we create and consume content, but we’ve seen that influencers have found new ways to connect with their followers.

Influencers are a particularly valuable option right now for brands who have had to cut back their advertising budgets or reconsider marketing strategies considering the rapidly changing retail environment. It is important to note that authenticity must be at the core of these collaborations. As a source of inspiration and connection, brands can work with influencers to continue to create content that offers both information on COVID-19 and a respite from it. Audiences want education on what they can do and information on charities they can support, but they also look to social media for a distraction from the constant headlines.

Brands with existing influencer partnerships have a degree of leverage and a safety net compared to those that don’t. As consumers look to influencers as a voice of authority, brands who leverage these relationships well will win. As we have seen from the simple but powerful actions of influencers such as Louise Cooney who through her platform raised over €64,000 in aid of Pieta House, it can continue to be a positive force for good.

Digital

Digital consumption is on the rise as lockdowns continue across the globe, and a brand’s digital presence has never been more vital.

Through social media platforms, brands can use their own channels to be part of the conversation, share content, and stay present. They provide the perfect opportunity to implement creative campaigns to re-engage consumers.

Brands can use this time to experiment with new types of content like video. It doesn’t need to be (and in certain situations probably can’t be) professionally produced, but a video from an internal expert or influencer showing a hands-on demo of a product could go a long way. Other options could include using some of the functionality that platforms have introduced for engagement, such as polls on Instagram or Facebook.

Brands can engage with customers with calls for user-generated content. Whether it’s a call for photos or videos of a brand’s product in use, or purely for entertainment and engagement, customers with more time on their hands who are spending more time online are more likely to engage with brands.

Virtual experiences have been made available to consumers online in the form of cooking demonstrations, concerts and workouts, increasing online engagement.

No matter what direction brands choose, now is the time to explore, look for new opportunities, and set the stage for better, more engaged customer interactions now and in the future. While these efforts may not lead to a direct increase in purchases right away, they will help a brand to stand out, to stay in touch and to be a source of inspiration, entertainment and information for their audiences.

Amy Jordan is a Senior Client Executive at AMPLIFY@DruryPN.

AMPLIFY@DruryPN is the Consumer, Brand & Digital division at Drury Porter Novelli, offering a diverse set of services which include brand story-telling and amplification both on and offline, creative and digital brand communications, strategic consumer PR, brand purpose, experiential, influencer outreach, digital strategy and content production, social media strategy and execution, and social listening. For more information about our offering please contact amy.jordan@drurypn.ie.