Pivoting into hand sanitiser, promoting social distancing, tackling panic buying, helping key workers, encouraging mental health wellbeing, supporting small businesses –  there’s been no shortage of brands standing up to address the challenges of coronavirus.

Entrepreneurs have also pledged their commitment to tackling the fallout – this week twitter founder Jack Dorsey announced that he will donate $1bn – 28% of his total wealth – to “disarm the pandemic”.

But do good things happen to ethical brands?

Will consumers remember the brands who have put ethical claims into practice? How can brands maintain goodwill and loyalty?

Or do people have short memories? Will the brands that haven’t covered themselves in glory notice any difference? Is a cheap pint more of a pull than a craft beer from a brewery that helped keep the nation’s hands clean?

We let Adland Decide:

Sam Gaunt, Former Head of Media, Lidl + Founder, The Working Fifty:
“To drive measurable business effects any ‘act of good’ needs to be amplified to reach a lot of people. In this context it can be thought about like any other piece of content, but with the opportunity to be particularly shareable and powerful when executed well.

“But one-off actions will be quickly forgotten and need to be part of a long term plan for driving affinity. It is not essential such a plan consists only of ‘doing good’ as there are other aspects of a brand that can emotionally resonate with consumers.”

Thomas Kolster, Author, Goodvertising:
“Oh yes, in times of crisis there is a need for heroes – not attention seeking clowns with a violin-filled message of hope and optimism featuring beautiful product shots. Dear brand, more doing, less bragging.

“And beware of putting on that superhero cape – you’ll most likely fall down like a can of soup.

 “Instead explore how you can turn people into the heroes. We’ve all witnessed amazing creativity and generosity from communities around the world.

“Give people a stage, a microphone, a supporting pad on the shoulder. Be that friend.”

Mary Keane-Dawson, CEO, Takumi:
“Efforts by brands such as Nissan and Just Eat to adapt and support the relief against the pandemic have been hailed in the media. Approaching the crisis in a positive way is what consumers are craving right now.

“Provided it’s done in a tasteful way that doesn’t appear opportunistic, CSR initiatives at this difficult time can help to enhance a brand’s reputation while also giving them an important lead against their competitors. 

“We’ve seen many brands turn the tap off on marketing during this pandemic and fade from public attention. Such brands will need to recapture audiences once the lockdown is over and may find they’ve lost ground. 

“Meanwhile, those who have continued to promote positive messaging at this time will be remembered for joining the fight against the biggest threat the country has faced since World War II”.

Brandon Relph, CEO, Studio BE:
“If we look at young consumers in particular, I think the decisions brands make now will have a huge impact on their sales for this age group in the future. Time and time again we have seen the youth care more and more about the brand’s impact on the world and this feels to me like the cherry on top for that. I think brands that put their best foot forward now will be remembered by young people and equally those that work against the grain and exploit this situation will feel the effects for years to come. Be warned.”

Kate Rushton, Community Strategist, IOVIA + SenseWorldwide:
“Right now “good brands” should bring their customers even closer to them. Get them invested even more. Get their input on your marketing: where do they think you should focus and how could they be involved? Get them to share their ideas for products and services: what are you not doing and how could they be rewarded for their insights? Get them to produce content for you: who knows better about what resonates than your own customers. Co-create together to build and cement brand loyalty, and produce an enduring message that resonates. It is all about the community now.”

Neil Marshall, Head of Media, Control v Exposed:
“Brands who have used this period to do good can capture the heart. This will come down to the level of ‘assumed expectation’ associated with the brand and the deed. I can imagine Pret will create a warm feeling by giving free hot drinks to NHS staff.

“Brands that have naturally stepped up will see loyalty and expectation reaffirmed with consumers. Apple, Dyson and Tesla have placed value in care, cementing their customer relationship for the foreseeable. 

“Lesser known brands such as BrewDog and Joe Wicks have gone beyond expectations and placed a strong marker from which to benefit. These brands are primed to sway affiliation and pull customers looking to align with their good nature. 

“Brands are in a great position to leverage their message and ensure future recall for years to come. I’m confident I’ll remember the UK’s PE teacher and Disney+ services for a long time!

“On the flip side, brands who have chosen to stay silent, pulling back on activity risk being forgotten and falling completely out of mind altogether.

“As there is no script for this period, brands are in a strong position to really write their own. Use this time to engage with fresh audiences, test and learn and create a solid base for future growth.”

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