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How Brands Can Build Trust with Consumers During a Crisis

The global impact of Coronavirus has created a tricky and delicate relationship between brands and their consumers. Brands are constantly wondering how to speak to their audience during such an unprecedented time. What should the message be? How should it be relayed? Am I saying the right thing? Is it enough, or maybe too little? The eMarketer podcast, Behind the Numbers, recently explored this topic and shed light on what consumers are expecting from brands during this global crisis.

The episode opens up with a reference to the Edelman Trust Barometer. This study states that brand trust during this time is based on four key elements: (1) Show up and do your part, (2) Don’t act alone, (3) Solve, don’t sell, and (4) Communicate with emotion, compassion, and facts. Each piece is a valid response, and brands are encouraged to use their voice during this crucial time. Collaborate on efforts with partners, inform consumers with useful material, and do so while keeping in mind we are all experiencing this crisis differently. Brands are walking a fine line these days. It’s important to stay relevant while all the more staying human.

The most crucial piece here is communicating with empathy and emotion. Consumers want their brands to take a sensible and considerate approach to advertising. Understand what your consumer is worried about, react to their needs, and don’t try to sell them a new product right now. Take this time to share top-level brand messaging. Consumers have a lot more time on their hands to pay attention to what brands are doing. Brands should take this time to share a branding message that resonates with the consumer’s new reality and everyday life. Focus on communication about the brand’s response to the pandemic, spread a comforting message, support, or inform the consumer, but all the while, focus on solutions. People are turning to brands that they trust and can depend on.

Continued communication with current and loyal customers instills a level of comfort. The podcast touches on recommendations like the use of free resources. Place messaging on your brand’s website, leverage organic social posts, email lists, or more importantly, earned media. During times of crisis, earned media can be the most valued form of advertising in the consumer’s eyes. Take a look at how a brand may support essential workers or help to supply materials. This could impact how the brand is perceived in the months or years to come.

Maneuvering through these times takes patience and thoughtfulness. After all, we are all human. Take this moment to react accordingly. Sympathize, slow down, and pay attention to the consumer’s needs. Now, more than ever, advertising should be mindful. Lean into your audience. A brand’s actions today could have a lasting impact on a consumer’s opinion and their likelihood to engage down the road. What we are experiencing could change how we think, behave, and consume indefinitely.

For more information on brand trust and the Coronavirus, view the Edelman Trust Barometer study here.

Give the eMarketer podcast episode a listen here.

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