The first thing brands ought to do during a crisis is to reactivate their purpose. But for brands that exist to drive positive social or environment change, purpose can come at high cost. Where to start cutting short when at the same time promises to communities, customers, employees and the environment are made?
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to branding in times of crisis, brands can always choose to take decisive action, communicate effectively and remain true to their cause. As such, reactivating and re-enacting purpose serves as an effective guide to action and brands can emerge as winners as soon as markets resume.
Here’s a list of brands that we can learn from:
Purpose: Sustainable fashion with the highest respect for the people and planet.
How: On their Instagram, Armed Angels announced to not cancel orders with its suppliers. While it is evident for a brand that claims to respect people to hold itself accountable also (especially!) in times of crisis, the brand sets an important and early precedent for the garment industry.
Purpose: Create radically fair value chains.
How: Moyee Coffee also remained committed to their supply chain partners – coffee farmers and roasters – in Ethiopia. The campaign #BuyOneGiftOne emphasized their commitment to fairness while offering customers who buy a package of coffee to treat a friend “in crisis” with a package of coffee for free. A smart example of keeping the mission alive and “discounting with purpose”.
Purpose: Build the best product. Cause no unnecessary harm. Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
How: Patagonia has undertaken several measures without hesitation: the company continued to pay its employees while it closed all stores and offices in response to the pandemic. Their ecommerce website has been temporarily disabled until the company could ensure the safety of its warehouse team. Also, its production was not shut down, maintaining the relationships with suppliers that depend on them.
Patagonia was fast to react and it’s no surprise because it has proved time and again to put profits second. In 2019, for example, Patagonia announced that it made an additional $10 million in profits after President Trump lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. In consequence, Patagonia promised to donate the sum to grassroot groups fighting climate change.”
Purpose: Sharing is our mission.
How: German social business share is based on the 1 + 1 principle. With every purchase of one of their products, consumers help someone in need, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia.
During the Corona Pandemic, share re-evaluated its core purpose and decided to add a focus on Germany: “Due to the current situation, The Tafel – one of the largest volunteer based organizations in Germany – faces new challenges and needs special support. Due to the increased demand in German supermarkets, they receive up to 70% less food donations. To meet the new circumstances, new food distribution models must be developed. For example, The Tafel delivers food to people in need at home. This increases the need for additional packaging material, additional sorting and transport capacities. Also, masks and plexiglass panels for the distribution rooms must also be provided.”. This is where share and their customers help the mission.
Viva von Agua
Purpose: Provide access to clean drinking water worldwide.
How: Viva con Agua supports WASH-projects in countries such as Uganda and Nepal. To help slow down the spread of the Coronavirus, hand washing and good hand hygiene is a must. Therefore the team is currently working with partners on concrete measures to improve hygiene conditions in their project areas. One key activity is to teach children about hand hygiene through workshops. This way they become multipliers as they also activate their friends and family which is an important step towards comprehensive hygiene and slowing down the spreading of virus.
Do you know of more brands that have reactivated their purpose during crisis? Drop it here in this Google Form. This page will be updated continuously and serves to gather and share insights. Stay safe & healthy!