Study: US Brands Seen to Be Acting More Formally During the Pandemic

The US is seen as having the biggest shift in how brands communicate in the pandemic in a global survey of marketing, brand, and comms directors. Nearly half of US respondents said brands have become more formal, compared with a global average of 37%. And 70% said they’d seen a change in brand comms, again well ahead of the global average.

The survey, by language and behavioral science agency Schwa, also showed that paradoxically more than four out of 10 believe that brands have become more “soft and fluffy” and almost a third are sending out meaningless updates.

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Changing Brand Communications

Meg Roberts, creative director at Schwa, said: “Brands seem to be going to extremes in their comms. Some are retreating to ‘safe’, robotic corporate-speak. It often happens when companies need to talk about difficult topics.

“On the other end of the scale, lots of brands seem to have gone soft and fluffy – we’re here for youdifficult times, and so on. They’re at least showing they want to be more human, but it means companies start to sound the same.

“Companies often send out emails and social posts just so that they’re seen to be doing something. But if they have nothing useful to say, it’s usually better to say nothing. It’s unlikely I need to hear from you if I ordered a pair of jeans from you a year ago.”

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The Impact of Pandemic

The pandemic has also increased the value many companies place on their tone of voice. “With all the updates businesses are sending out – much of it delicate and difficult – people are looking for more guidance on how to communicate. And it’s important internally too, particularly now a lot of us are working remotely. Emails and Slack messages have replaced the water cooler as the pinnacle of a company’s culture. Writing skills are more important than ever,” Meg concluded.

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