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Staying On Brand During A Crisis

By Molly Baker

COVID-19 is a qualified crisis that has affected every part of our daily lives. It’s a time of uncertainty, anxiety, and grief on a human level as well as a business level. There is a demand for empathy and purpose that your business can deliver. So how can you deliver to the demand while staying on brand?


To do this stop thinking about a brand as a thing that you sell, and think about in more human terms. If a brand was alive, a  human, what would its core values be and how would its personality come to life? Here are some tools to help make this transformation.

# 1 – Stay true to your brand core and character. 

At Hyperquake, we use a tool called a Brand Core. A Brand Core is an element that holds the rational and emotional part of your brand together. It grounds your team in who you are, what you stand for, what you do, why you do it, and ultimately becomes the core human driver behind how you go-to-market.
Brand Core Diagram

We also reference Jungian Archetypes. Every great story has a cast of characters, and your brand is no different. Archetypes have goals, fears, desires, strengths and weaknesses. Your Brand Core informs your archetype, revealing your character.

#2 – Translate your core and character to messaging that aligns to human values 

As you go to market during a crisis, you will not resonate with consumers in an authentic way unless you are aligning to their values. Now more than ever, it’s critical to leverage your values and find the overlap between them and what consumers care about.

In a COVID world, consumers’ values have shifted. Today, people are looking to brands and businesses to be more human. To share in this great crisis with them by being more informative, honest, and clear, as well as being more community-focused and caring. Data* is also showing that people are more likely to buy from brands that care about them and this “new normal.”

*67% of consumers report they are more likely to buy from brands that care about them and their situation” (Suzy 2020)


#3 -Acknowledge the true gravity of the moment and offer support that is transparent and unique to your brand’s character

Crises of this scale affect the course of history, and therefore, our brand narratives must follow. Messaging in your tone that also matches the world’s tenor for healing will resonate.

Some messaging best-practices we have seen during COVID-19: 

  • Acknowledge COVID-19 and share how we can thrive together throughout core content.
  • Recognize that things have changed, in many ways, forever. 
  • Integrate our shared experience throughout the course of the event. 
  • Lead in showing people that connection can still happen when we are apart.

A tangible example of someone who is doing this well is Nike.

[This isn’t Nike’s actual Brand Core. Created as an example.]

Nike acknowledged COVID-19, recognized that things have changed for athletes, and continues to drive connection through the #PlayInside movement (offering social distancing workouts, tips, and ways to play inside). The messaging is true to their core, inspiring the world to achieve greatness because they believe in the power of human potential.

If you’re struggling to navigate the world we’re living in, you’re not alone. Lean in. Be transparent. Be true.


If you’ve recently seen an inspiring pandemic response from a brand or your own company, let us know in the comments below.

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