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In Uncertain Times, Lean into your Brand

Posted by on March 16th, 2020
Posted in Blog, Nonprofit Branding   

It’s on everyone’s minds, and most of us don’t know what to do. I’m talking about Coronavirus (or COVID-19), of course.

As the world deals with or prepares for Coronavirus, leaders of companies, nonprofits, and schools are grappling with what this pandemic will mean for their organization. And there are more questions than answers.

How can we keep our teams safe?
How will this impact operations?
How severely will it affect our bottom line?
What do we need to say to our community?

And, importantly, how can we handle this in a way that maintains our stakeholders’ trust and confidence in us?

With so many details, contingency planning can overwhelm even the most organized of us. We were feeling overwhelmed here at Mission Minded, too. While we’ve been a team that’s worked from home offices for 20 years, we travel to visit clients around the country. We gather in large groups for day-long facilitations. We speak at conferences. We work with schools that are now closed for weeks, or facing closure. And many of us have increased childcare demands and loved ones facing increased risk.

So we took a step back and refocused.

The solutions to these challenges, we remembered, could be found by leaning into our brand values—a set of bedrock priorities that we’d set out for ourselves long before Coronavirus existed. We’re going to stay positive while not closing our eyes to potential challenges. We’re going to improve always by reimagining how we work with each other and our clients to continue to deliver value to them efficiently and effectively even if it means we can’t meet in person. And we’re going to champion each other as we all make decisions about travel, school closures, and the health of ourselves and the community.

We hope your organization’s brand values offer you similarly reassuring guidance, allowing you to react to extraordinary circumstances in a way that’s true to who you are and what’s important to you. To whatever degree your brand exists, now’s precisely when we’d recommend you lean into it.

Here’s how:

Start from a Place of Knowledge

It may seem obvious, but ensure your organization is receiving the most up-to-date and reliable information. (We like the World Health Organization.) Things change hour by hour, so it’s important to regularly check that your planning remains relevant and that you’re offering your community accurate information and timely assistance.

Rely on Your Brand

Your brand strategy is rooted in research, a deep understanding of your organization’s strengths, and the values that you share with your stakeholders. Your brand strategy should always be used as a rubric for making decisions, especially in uneasy times. Trust it.

Ask yourself:

  • Who needs to hear from you? Your staff, for sure. What about donors? Partners? Your digital audience?
  • How can your values inform your response? For example, if your organization values the collective health of the community, you may want to communicate why working virtually is important—not only for the health of your team, but because of each person’s role in safeguarding community health. Or if your organization values a collaborative approach, your plan should involve providing tools for your team to connect remotely and a concerted effort to make collaboration with external partners possible.
  • Does your response reflect your personality? If your brand’s personality includes being optimistic, aim for that tone in how you talk (and think) about the challenge. If your personality is one of a thought leader, give your stakeholders the confidence and leadership they expect of you. Even if your organization has nothing to do with public health, you can communicate plans and contingency plans with these attributes in mind.


Re-Evaluate and Repeat

Once you have gone through the process above, it’s important to monitor and adjust. Stay up-to-date with the latest information relating to the virus, listen to your community (digital media can help with this), and ensure that your organization’s response reflects your brand, which needs to stand tall long after this current crises comes to an end.

Does your organization have an example of how you’re using your brand values to navigate these times? Share in the comments below!

Related Content: Are you finding remote work to be challenging? Read our post here with tips to help set you up for work-from-home success.


Stephanie is a Mission Minded Brand Strategist and a huge Harry Potter nerd.

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