The Coronavirus and How Global Pandemics Impact Brands

At the time of writing, coronavirus, more correctly known as Covid-19, is present in 71 countries across the globe. The World Health Organisation is reluctant to call the spread of Covid-19 a pandemic, after backlash following the SARS outbreak in 2009. However, as many experts point out, it is now entering the realms that most would agree was of ‘pandemic proportions’. While of course the biggest immediate concern is minimising the health impact on populations around the world, we also need to be aware that the global spread of disease, in this way, has the potential to massively impact brands. Indeed, already it has been predicted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that the global economy will grow at its lowest rate since 2009, following the financial crisis. They estimate that a “more intensive” outbreak could halve global economic growth. We are also already seeing notable financial impacts on all businesses because of the coronavirus, simply because of the impact on the financial markets across the world. However, many country-specific financial bodies are already explaining how they will mitigate the impact. The problem may really come down to individual brands, specifically within different sectors.


Why does a global pandemic impact brands

Let’s take a look at early indicators in the airline industry; an industry obviously impacted by the shut down on travel, as well as decreased demand, as the virus spreads. The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) says that the airline industry could lose $29 billion. There are already rumblings that the cruise industry will take a hard hit, after being labelled as a “floating petri dish”, with the spread of coronavirus amongst the Diamond Princess population. The cruise industry as a whole will likely need to rebrand itself going forwards. In such situations, there is an inevitability that all tourism and travel brands are likely to feel the impact of coronavirus for a long time to come. However, it’s fair to say that not all brands will be affected equally. Therefore, what’s of importance to brands now, is how to ensure that their business is the one of the ones which survives, and ultimately thrives.


How to ensure my brand survives coronavirus

As the Harvard Business Review explains, the steps you need to take as a brand to survive the coronavirus is good practice anyway. There will always be external and global influences around the corner which you need to be prepared for. In the short term of a crisis, such as now with Covid-19, it is vital to keep fully aware of what is going on and take a flexible approach to managing it. It is this flexibility which should help your business to weather the storm. Add to this the ability to communicate well. If your employees and your customers or clients can see that you are calm and in control, and are a source of stability in a time of global fear, then their loyalty to your brand will continue well into the future. Remember that everyone is being bombarded with mixed information. If your brand is the calm in the storm, conveying true and accurate information, then you position yourself as reputable and trustworthy. It is vital to take steps to protect your business. By restricting travel and utilising remote working as much as possible, you should be able to keep your workforce safe and functional. In supply chain businesses, you will need to ensure that you have various alternative options. Build resilience into how your business acts, working out how you will cut costs as you need to.


For now and for the future

For now you need to weather the storm, coming out on top. This requires your branding to be strong and dependable. You cannot evoke panic or give the impression that coronavirus has got the better of you. Going forwards, your branding approach will depend on how you have survived coronavirus. If you’ve become a port in the storm, then you’ll need to build quickly on your brand strategy so that you can capitalise on your success. However, if coronavirus hits your business or your industry hard, then recovery may well involve strategic rebranding. This will enable your brand to move forwards into the future, putting coronavirus behind you. We’re here to help your brand navigate its way through the current global upheaval.