Pick your battle – how your brand can become a hero in this time of crisis
Published on 26 Mar 2020

We are living through a profound crisis. We see companies creating the things we need to keep people healthy like hand sanitizer and face masks. Some brands are even using their media budget to warn people to stay 1,5 meters away from each other. Others are offering digital solutions or helping organize logistics for older people who can’t leave their homes.


So what should your brand do? Are you already too late? Will it make a difference? Yes, it will. What is the most sensible way for your brand to make a contribution? In a word: fight. We are now all united against a common foe. But this virus comes accompanied by a host of other villains. In this battle each brand has its role to play. By acting on who you are, your brand archetype. By picking a fight with your particular foe. When you have identified what it is you want to fight against, it becomes immediately clear how your brand can contribute.


Here are some examples by brand archetype to get you started:


Explorer: an explorer typically battles daily routines. Our common routines have just been put on hold until further notice. Case in point: most of us have never worked from home, especially not with children present. It’s a journey for all of us. It’s OK to feel lost. Don’t present a one-size-fits-all approach, show people the options.


Maker: we need to be creative like never before. No half-baked solutions but things that really work. Like spirits brands switching to the production of hand sanitizer. Or fashion brands making mouth masks that really provide protection, not just make you feel protected. Use and share your craft, skills and capabilities where they are most needed.


Hero: it is easy to succumb to fear, frustration and even depression. To feel paralyzed. For the moment the best thing to do is to accept that what you can do is all you should do. That’s why Nike encourages you to stay and play at home. Give people small challenges to do. Help them to achieve them.


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Magician: every crisis also offers an opportunity for growth. How can your brand aid the transformation? Why should we accept this as reality, let’s create a new normal! Let people experience a more bearable present or even the new world we could enter after this crisis.


Sage: there is so much new and often conflicting information out there. What do we need to know to get through this? Who has the knowledge? How can it be shared as quickly and as widely as possible? Make it clear and simple for people. Help people better understand what’s going on and what they can and have to do.


Leader: chaos is lurking around the corner. How can we keep it at bay? What new routines, structures can we adopt? Who can we look to, to show the way? Your brand can be a beacon of trust to guide us.


Optimist: we can either give in to negativity, we can criticize, or we can set aside our differences and unite in a common effort. How can we keep our spirits up? How can we stir the better angels of our nature and awaken the good in all of us? Like Coca-Cola in the Philippines that feels its advertising budget is better spent elsewhere right now:


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Neighbour: people are going to be left out, some are going to be struck harder than others. How can we help them out? Can you organize a new movement that reaches the people that need help most?


Caregiver: it’s very human for people to think of themselves first. But really, most don’t. We will get through this together when we see the good we’re all doing. How can you contribute? Build empathy by showing and sharing personal stories. Show the world that people care, help them to express that feeling and act on it.


Lover: we need to redefine how we relate to others when we are both confined to smaller spaces and need to keep our distance. How do we make sure people don’t feel rejected? Or how do we show love and affection? To others, but let us not forget to show ourselves a little bit of love while we’re at it.


Entertainer: has there ever been more opportunity to feel bored? And yet not all modes of entertainment are safe right now. How can we have some fun while not endangering others? Can you help people find new ways – or rediscover old ways – to entertain ourselves and others?


Rebel: nobody thrives on chaos like a true rebel. Nobody is more resourceful and sees what can be done given the circumstances. Rebels are definitely not the ones to waste a good crisis. When rebels use their abilities for the greater good, they can really make a difference. A rebel can see a new normal before anyone else, because they have never taken the old world for granted. What is it that we have to throw away to create a new world?


These are just some first thoughts on how using brand archetypes and story thinking can help guide you in making choices for your brand in the COVID-19 crisis. Define your brand archetype, decide what your particular fight is going to be and take action.


And at a personal level: stay safe, keep your distance, sing from your balcony, and share your toilet paper.