Brand Reputation Sheds Light on Pandemic Learnings
Written By: Allyson Marcus
The COVID-19 pandemic was (and still is) incredibly impactful on our communities, schools, workplaces, healthcare system – and everywhere in between. It is a moment in time that has changed society. Each phase of the pandemic had us asking questions. For example, how contagious is COVID-19, when do we wear a mask, what places should we visit, do we send our kids to school, and when do we return to the office? Now, the conversation has shifted to reflect on what we have learned – what pandemic changes do we want to keep? In certain aspects, the answer to this question is deeply connected to a company’s brand reputation.
Brand reputation may be hard to measure, but it is an asset during times of crisis. Reputational crises remain one of the major risk concerns for organizations anywhere in the world. According to Aon, a global insurance broker, reputation crises destroyed $1.2 trillion in shareholder value (across a 40-year study). This is a strong reminder that being vocal during times of crisis as well as having strong business resiliency and risk management programs can make an impact on the future success of a company.
When it comes to brand trust, consumers put a premium on how companies treated their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent study by the Gustavson School of Business. Many of our opinions about certain business sectors have changed in the past 15 months. This change has typically been based on the brands’ various pandemic responses. For example, a study by Opinium found that supermarkets came out on top for having been vocal and quick to act in responding to the pandemic, followed by the healthcare, pharma, and food and drink sectors. Meanwhile, research also shows that automotive, fashion and beauty, and gym and fitness were lagging in their responses. How leaders responded to pandemic risks are a key indicator of the overall strength of their leadership, their business, and their connection to their consumers – i.e. their brands.
Repairing the Brand
While consumers are now asking themselves what changes to sustain after the pandemic, some businesses are left trying to figure out how to repair their reputations and regain lost followers. Aon’s latest report simply states it – “reimagine the risk landscape, acknowledge the seriousness of the event, and translate understanding into action.”
During a crisis, time is of the essence and response means everything. A brand should strive to be thoughtful, purposeful, and genuine. This approach will help connect the brand with the consumer, offering sensitivity and understanding during the time in need. Empathy offers much more than just awareness. It creates a true connection – one that can withstand the current crisis and continue on for years to come. An open mind mixed with a bit of creativity and a drive for change can help most brands secure a successful future.