At Almanac we talk a lot about change processes and how important the stages of readiness and change-mapping are to a successful project. We hadn’t counted on change happening so quickly, even hour to hour, like it is through this virus pandemic. After a couple of days of floundering, we found our center again, in what we believe about impact brands and how impact brands respond in times of uncertainty. (Wondering if you’re an impact brand? Check out my partner Nate’s post and checklist, here.)
A quick summary of how impact brands show up during normal times:
- They are focused
- Articulate their “why”
- Think digital first
- Influence through a system of engaging content
- Are authentic
- Understand that time is the most important commodity
- Create opportunities to share and participate
In times of uncertainty and rapid change, impact brands continue to show up, in these specific ways:
Know what your organization stands for and why your audiences need to hear from you during a time of crisis. Refer to your positioning statement and key messaging framework to determine what you need to say and to whom. Impact brands respond clearly, but with empathy. Remember that people are facing difficult decisions and a loss of control right now, and your clarity can bring them strength.
Articulate your “why”
This situation is an unplanned test of your mission and positioning. Why should donors give to you, or even care about you right now? What will you do to make the new world a better place? You might feel like this is no time for grand visions, but I believe that’s the only thing that will get us through. Please tell us where you’re going as an organization, and show us that you can see clearly past today.
Think digital first
We’ve been saying this for years, and urging clients and other purpose-driven brands to develop digital communications plans built on reaching audiences where they are. Social media, email and websites are all still open. After this pandemic crisis passes, I believe we will see more people than ever using digital media, because they can count on it. Now is the time to dig in and understand the audiences on your channels, and create clear, direct communication. In the midst of all this uncertainty, digital communications can be measured, so you can be sure that you are investing in channels and content that connects.
Influence through a system of engaging content
Everyone on your team should be communicating through a crisis like this, and they should be empowered to do so when time is of the essence. Again, go back to your positioning and key messages. As long as each person is building communications on that scaffolding, you’ll reinforce each other and your brand will come out of this stronger.
Speak to what you know, don’t speculate. In scary times like these, impact brands respond by showing us the upside and the downside of what you are facing. Now is not the time to pull a stock photo of a giant virus to plop into your social media post. Show us your human faces and the faces of those you are helping.
Understand that time is the most important commodity
It seemed like in the beginning of this crisis (way back seven days ago), I had to constantly wade through a full paragraph about each organization’s care and concern for people and their history of such caring. In times like these, our scrolling and scanning society gets even more frantic and distracted. Tell donors and stakeholders the important information they need to know (refer back to your Focus, above) right away. If you’ve done a good job of building your brand and communicating up to now, they’ll know the other stuff about you already.
Create opportunities to share and participate
We need to connect with each other now more than ever. Make it easy for your supporters to share a positive story or critical information by putting it out on your social channels. Communicate with stakeholders closest to you through email–believe it or not it feels more personal and drives more results than social. Check out your online donation process: is it just a few clicks or does it send folks off of your site to an unfamiliar platform, which could seem unsafe?
The bottom line is that impact brands are here for the long-term and they are here to make the world a better place. We need you to show up now more than ever.