We live in a critical moment in which brands must reaffirm and demonstrate their purposes and role in our lives. It is an opportunity to connect more deeply with the feelings of affected individuals and communities. To understand the feeling and contribute. An effort will leave its mark and have essential returns for those brands that know how to take advantage of it. It is time for EMPATHY.
For this, it is necessary to promote intelligent and authentic management of empathy. This human attitude lasts until this crisis passes but until the reconstruction of our brands and society.
The crisis generated by Covid-19 has several aspects: health, social, economic, political and humanitarian. Once the most critical phase of the health sector has been overcome (although very aware of the waves), we are now entering the economic and social phases caused by uncertainty, confinement, restriction of mobility and leisure, unemployment, evictions, disconnection or social forgetfulness, isolation from our elders, loss of our privacy, restriction of freedoms, loss of loved ones.
All this has generated sequelae and caused anxiety and addictions. Especially in Spain, as a Latin country and a world tourist power, we feel vulnerable. But it has also strengthened a strong human feeling and the need to help and contribute on the part of all. From our brands too.
Empathic examples are hard to forget
We have witnessed countless very notorious examples of relevant brands -big and small- that have contributed and helped different groups: families, children, other companies, employees. And in very different ways: transport, distribution, food, cleaning, sanitary material, toys, software, etc.
There have been solidarity actions even by people or celebrities, sometimes without an organization behind them, but convinced and willing to help.
The example of what they did at that time will remain in the memory and will allow us to vindicate and build new stories, narratives or even legends. And the route that each brand chooses from now on – according to its purpose and identity – will mark a before and after in its history.
It is the time and opportunity for the brave and “the great little leaders” (not necessarily in size). It may even be a one-off effort, but one that will impact the ‘karmic balance’ of brands will be difficult for its stakeholders to forget.
How to build value for others
In 2020 we had put our entire system of human values to the test, and empathy has reminded us how to build value for others, not just for the brand.
Brands cannot look away and must act with empathic intelligence, becoming brands with empathy. They must demonstrate with their contributions their sensitivity to the real needs of people in critical moments, fulfilling as citizens and with their brand purpose. On the contrary, those who try to take advantage or enrich themselves with the misery of others will indeed be accursed.
But you have to act based on a defined strategy based on the brand’s message and profile, at the right time and with the right tone and form. In short, it should not be improvised, but rather it is about aligning the entire organization around its purpose to avoid taking a wrong step.
Ten tips for managing brands with empathy
In addition to the keys provided by our Top Empathic Brands study, we would like to share ten tips to manage and activate a brand from the point of view of empathy.
- Define the purpose of your brand in this world and be inspired by it. It is more than recommended that you have it.
- Determine the empathic profile of the brand based on its purpose and its most related and contributory areas in this situation. It is realistic and honest.
- Define your empathic strategy and the drivers or levers on which to act. Arouse emotions from your attributes by focusing on a clear, simple, realistic, relevant, differentiated idea aligned with the purpose.
- Look for your opportunity areas and actions that cover them.
- Build the supply chain necessary for your action or idea. It is necessary to have an action plan and a roadmap to carry out actions that contribute. If you don’t get everything you want to contribute, build clusters of interested partners to help you. If the idea is good, it will not cost you to convince them.
- Implement well. In times of crisis and human matters, you cannot fail.
- Communicate correctly. Watch your message, especially in tone and form. Be sensitive and considerate, always speak on behalf of the brand, practice emotional storytelling, avoid generating anxiety, build hope and a sense of belonging, give security and express human values that are part of your brand DNA.
- Spread your action to all stakeholders to live the contribution, and all feel proud of the brand. Would you please take the opportunity to activate it 360 degrees?
- Analyze feedback and correct it on the fly. Clarify soon what is appropriate if necessary.
- Capitalize on the action by making it last. Reinvent or update your idea once your contribution has passed and when your mission ends.
How to measure brand return with empathy
Moments of substantial disruptions and crises pose significant challenges for brands and open up valuable management and construction opportunities to connect with greater emotional tension with the public.
You will be able to measure the return of brands with empathy in terms of preference, differentiation, acceptance and adherence, purchase intention, immediate response to activation, improvement of emotional connection, etc. In short, the so-called Share of Heart and a lasting imprint effect on our memories.
In short, 2020 has reactivated the hope of building a better future for all. And it can be a before and after for brands.
Moments like this, of ’empathic connection,’ occur with such intensity only every 5.7 or 10 years. Brands must take advantage of them to position themselves and enhance themselves by generating brands – new or renewed – that strongly impact people’s feelings.
It is time for our brands to react, act, be useful, contribute, and demonstrate in its way and in its way. Some take advantage of it, others less. And some nothing.