All Articles Leadership Strategy Protect and prepare your brand for the post-coronavirus world

Protect and prepare your brand for the post-coronavirus world

Brands can't go dormant during the pandemic if they hope to recover quickly -- or at all.

4 min read


Protect and prepare your brand for the post-coronavirus world

Unsplash photo/SmartBrief illustration

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting recession caught everyone by surprise. Don’t let yourself be surprised again as the world starts to reopen and everyone begins scrambling to make up lost ground. 

Stopping your brand-building efforts now can cause long-term damage. The Advertising Research Foundation writes: “Brands that ‘go dark’ take 5 years on average to recover market share.”

You might not be able to continue to spend on advertising and marketing at the levels you used to, but you can still protect your brand during the crisis and prepare your brand to rebound after COVID-19.

You can continue to build your brand during these challenging times by treating everything you do as marketing and developing a next-generation digital customer experience. Learn more in this new video.

To learn more from Denise Lee Yohn or to book her to speak to your organization, see her website and YouTube channel.

If you enjoy this article, sign up for SmartBrief on Leadership  and ANA Brand Activation SmartBrief, among SmartBrief’s more than 200 industry-focused newsletters.


If you’re like most business leaders, you’ve probably put brand-building on the back burner as you deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. 81% of companies have deferred marketing, according to the World Federation of Advertisers. And even Google is slashing its marketing budgets by as much as half for the second half of the year (CNBC.)

But pulling back on marketing can have serious, long-term consequences. According to the Advertising Research Foundation, brands that “go dark” in a downturn take five years, on average, to recover market share.

Just because you might have to reduce dollars allocated to marketing, doesn’t mean you can’t protect your brand during the crisis and prepare your brand for the post COVID-19 world. You just need to shift your brand-building approach from marketing tactics to enterprise-wide efforts. Here’s what I mean:

Everything you do is marketing these days. From your employee’s community service and corporate social responsibility (CSR) work to your company communications on social media and a letter from the CEO on your website, everything your organization does shapes people’s opinions of your brand and influences their decisions about whether to do business with you now and in the future.

So ensure every touchpoint, every activity reinforces and interprets your brand positioning and personality. Think of how you can turn your interactions with employees, business partners, communities as well as customers into powerful messages about your brand. Transform your company’s everyday actions into extraordinary ones and you’ll naturally attract attention and improve your brand perceptions.

You know, there’s been a lot of talk lately about brand storytelling but story-doing has a lot more impact. You don’t need to run ads telling people you care about them and their communities. Take action to actually help others and you will be strengthening your brand far more effectively and sustainably.

Also to protect your brand now and ensure it is strong and valuable in the future, develop your digital customer experience (CX).

The lockdown has transformed the way customers research, browse, shop, and pay — even B2B customers are making decisions through digital channels because salespeople aren’t meeting with them in person. And the trend to digital customer experience will likely continue even after the crisis as people develop new habits and get used to the convenience.

So, your digital customer experience has become your primary marketing channel — and that means you’re now competing on e-commerce capabilities, mobile-first design, cashless payments and cross-channel logistics and fulfillment.

Apply the disciplines of marketing in these areas to assert your brand leadership:

  • Use customer insights and analytics to target specific customers with experiences that meet their specific needs
  • Make sure your digital customer experience expresses the unique attributes and value of your brand and make it clearly different from your competitors
  • Apply creativity to your operations to develop new ways to engage customers digitally and to create brand new experiences.

You might be in survival mode, but now is the time to ensure your brand will be well-positioned in the future. Continue to build your brand by treating everything you do as marketing, and take your digital customer experience to the next level.