Inspirational Responses To COVID-19 From Brands

Get Properly Informed
For the latest and best information regarding COVID-19, check your local government’s website or the World Health Organization website.

Highlighting brands that have shown extraordinary flexibility and social responsibility in the face of Corona Virus.

Changes in the business environment are nothing new. Technology, laws, demographics, and consumer taste are continually changing. Brands need to make common-sense adjustments to stay relevant and continue to provide value in different business environments.

But most changes to the business environment happen over months and years; it seems as if the world changed in a week thanks to COVID-19.

The organizations that will be okay in the long run are the ones that are flexible enough to make changes and adapt to this unique time in history.

Some brands have shown so much flexibility that they are helping their home countries and the world overcome challenges like shortages, the needs of the elderly, and providing goods while practicing social distancing.

These brands clearly get a public relations boost, but there is more benefit than that. They may be able to make money by supplying a good in a time of need. They are also developing their organization’s ability to adapt to changes in the market place, which will help them stay strong in the future.

Some have gone above the call of duty and really deserve to be highlighted.

Below is a list of the most extraordinary examples of brands seeing an opportunity to help our society in a time of crisis.

I am going to be adding to this list as I see notable examples, so this is an ongoing post.

If you see an interesting example that you think I should feature then please comment to this post or mention me on Twitter (@ColinFinkle). I will be sure to include it.

Our guidance to brands of all sizes:

1) Be aware of local regulations, public health guidelines, and government assistance programs. Comply appropriately.
If you are a brand manager, then you are also a community leader. You have an opportunity to do something substantial that can limit the severity of the pandemic. Depending on what country you are operating in, there may be government assistance programs coming online to help employers and the economy; take advantage of these if you can.

2) Try to maintain a level of service that is appropriate. Don’t close is possible; instead, adjust your services. 
If there is no way to provide your services legally or safely, then you may need to shut down. But challenge yourself to come up with ways to adapt. It is important to the people who you service that you continue to help them. Your continued economic activity will have large downstream positive effects.

3) Make reasonable adjustments to how your brand delivers its services.
If your service is typically face-to-face, can you provide a similar level of service remotely? If not, can you adjust your procedures to limit spread and thus make customers feel more comfortable? Can you deliver your services in a way that is better for your customers and public health?

4) Tell people that your brand acknowledges COVID-19, are making adjustments, and values your customers’ health and safety over all else.
The people who love your brand and are concerned will appreciate that your organization is aware and proactive. Telling people will make them feel safe.

5) Give, if you can.
We are in extraordinarily uncertain times, and no one would fault a business for not making a donation of money, time, or capacity. But if you can help, there is probably no better time for it.

Large Donations

Alibaba co-founder, Jack Ma, has committed to donating 1,000,000 face masks and 500,000 testing kits for use in the United States. Note: This is a personal donation. Full Story (Time)

7-Eleven donated 1,000,000 face masks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be distributed to front-line medical personnel. Full Story (7-Eleven Press Release)

Free Product

Jaguar / Landrover are lending 160 vehicles to the Red Cross societies in England, France, Australia, Spain, and South Africa. Full Story (Forbes)

Diageo, the parent company of Smirnoff, Crown Royal and Guinness, is donating two million liters of 96% alcohol to hand sanitizer producers. Full Story (The Sun, UK)

Re-purposing Factories

LVMH (parent company of Louis Vuitton, Dior, Sephora, Fendi, Givenchy, MORE, etc.) are re-purposing their perfume factories to make hand sanitizer. Full Story (Axios)

L’Oreal is repurposing factories that usually make cosmetics to make hand sanitizer and hydro alcoholic gel through it’s La Roche-Posay and Garnier brands and channels. Full Story (MSN)

Inditex (parent company to Zara) is going to donate masks and is looking into re-purposing clothing factories to make hospital gowns. Full Story (Business Insider)

General Motors, Ford and Tesla offer to retool their factories to make ventilators. Full Story (CNN Business)

Burberry to produce and deliver 100,000 surgical masks to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Full Story (USA Today)

Flexibility for Employees

Amazon has all of its office employees work from home. Amazon is raising all hourly employee’s pay by $2. Warehouse workers can take unlimited unpaid time off without risking their jobs. Amazon has committed $25,000,000 to help employees who have to take unpaid time to maintain their income. Amazon is hiring 100,000 more employees to deal with unprecedented demand for deliveries. Full Story (CNBC)

Apple is paying hourly workers their regular earnings during the time the Apple Stores are shutdown. Full Story (Apple newsroom)

Closing Retail Locations

Apple is closing all of its 450 stores until March 27, 2020. Full Story (New York Times)

Patagonia is shutting down all its stores and online operations until March 27, 2020. Full Story (CNBC)

Working To Help

Johnson & Johnson has committed to spending $1 billion to develop a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2. Full Story (CNN)

This is an ongoing blog post. Check back for new additions.

If you have suggestions of brands I should call out, then please comment or mention me on Twitter.

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Colin Finkle

Colin Finkle is a brand marketer and designer with ten years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies tell their story at retail. You can see his work at ColinFinkle.com

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