Managing your SME Brand Post-COVID - Kuits Solicitors Manchester

Managing your SME Brand Post-COVID

Managing your SME Brand Post-COVID

16th July 2020 - Published by Kuits intellectual property team

So, you’re back open after lockdown. You’ve looked at the figures and the turnover for your business. You’ve made the changes that you think are necessary for survival in this difficult time, but what else can you do to strengthen your position? Here, our intellectual property lawyers discuss.

Branding in intellectual property law

Rather than considering the new assets and strategies, one thing that you may find beneficial to your business is to look at using your existing tools and how you can use them to your benefit. An example of this is the more focused use of branding following the Covid-19 pandemic. Branding in intellectual property law can mean a broad array of things, such as the look and feel of your products and website, the trade mark that you use, how your website operates, the running of your social media accounts and even the overall message that you think your brand conveys to the public.

Recently, a report has been published by the Edelman Trust (2020) (Special Report: Brand Trust and Coronavirus Pandemic) analysing survey evidence collected at the end of March 2020 from Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. The results from the report showed a number of surprising changes in consumer habits during the pandemic. The report can provide business owners with an idea of how they can use their branding to their strength in order to further their own business objectives, as well as staying on the right side of the consumer.

Responsibility of your brand

Unsurprisingly, the current pandemic has led consumers to consider brands to be in a position of social responsibility. This ethical prospective is reflected in the report where 78% of those surveyed believed that businesses have a responsibility to ensure that employees are protected from the virus in the workplace and, importantly, that they do not spread this virus in the community. Whilst this seems quite obvious in terms of the health benefits that prevention brings, so far there has been little evidence to suggest that a consumer’s view would be tainted by the actions taken (or not taken) by a business.

A more staggering result is that nearly 33% of those consumers surveyed had already punished brands for “not responding well” during this pandemic. Brand owners now face the difficulty of judging what a “correct response” is in the eyes of their consumer. This also makes it harder for business owners, as the concept of a “brand” becomes even boarder term than it already was to include moral values.

One of the questions asked as part of the survey was whether brands should do everything they can to protect the wellbeing and financial security of their employees and suppliers, even if it means suffering big financial losses until the pandemic ends. On average, 90% of those surveyed said that they either believed that this step must be taken or that they hoped that this was the approach that brands would take.

For new brands coming on to the market, the statistic of importance is that more than 50% of those surveyed agreed that they would not pay attention to new products right now unless they were designed to help with the pandemic-related challenges. At this stage of the pandemic, when the government is encouraging that the economic cogs of the financial market start turning, these kind of statistics shed light on consumer spending habits and perception; the assumption taken away from this is that consumers are more inclined to use a brand that they are more familiar with. It does appear though that many businesses have taken an adaptive approach even before publication of this evidence, as there has been an increased number of sanitation products on the market, PPE equipment and face coverings.

Your brand and social media – reputation management

Many companies have been turning to their social media platforms and their websites to keep customers updated through the pandemic. One statistic from the report which may assist you in relation to how much time and resources you devote towards Covid-19 related messages on your platforms is that more than 30% of those surveyed said that an increased amount of coverage on Covid-19 does add to the anxiety and concerns suffered by some. So whilst it is important to keep customers updated, it is equally important for business owners to be careful and make sure that not every message they send is in respect of the current pandemic. Brands should also be conscious of the content that they may have historically scheduled as 57% of consumers surveyed suggested that brands should avoid humorous advertising and 42% indicated that brands should avoid using advertising which provides a sense of escapism.

In reviewing your resource management and the communication channels, it may be worthwhile for you to consider more direct forms of communication with your consumers. Of those surveyed in the UK, 64% preferred that if information be provided by way of email rather than other social media platforms. Whilst at times emails can be disregarded as an outdated form of communication to your customers, these figures should provide encouragement for brands to move away from mass communication to a more direct, even personal, form of communication.

It does appear that staying silent on issues such as the pandemic is not necessarily the best response for your brand. Communications linked to your brand should be demonstrative of the steps you are taking. They should be meaningful and be something that your truly believe in and would stick to in the long-term.

Contact our intellectual property lawyers

If you would like to discuss how best to protect your brand and how to make the most of your brand, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the IP team on 0161 838 7816.

Subscribe to our mailing list