Crisis Messaging: What’s Your Brand Persona in This Pandemic?

Find out Which of 4 Personas Should Guide Your Brand’s Crisis Messaging 

In this unprecedented era of the pandemic, customers have new needs. How consumers go about their daily lives has changed. And it’s looking like some of these changes will be here to stay. For brands, the main question is how they should be adapting their messaging and tone to reflect the new reality and needs of today’s consumers.
Obvious new needs are practical. They need new ways to get home essentials and food. They’re arranging work-from-home spaces for themselves and remote learning stations for kids who are suddenly out of school. They’re figuring out how to cut their own hair. And of course, consumers are concerned with sanitation; in March and April, sales of aerosol disinfectants jumped 230.5% and multipurpose cleaners 109.1% from the same time last year (per Nielsen).
Consumers are also worried and thus have new emotional needs. They want to connect socially with friends who they aren’t able to see in person. They want to play games, to escape and be entertained.
The brands that adapt successfully will be the ones that speak to these collective needs at the right time and in the right way. Advertisers that can reach consumers with empathy will be the winners. The good news? Historically, brands that spend during a recession come out ahead.
Which brands are doing it right?  Let’s take a look.

Different Tones, Similar Messaging

For some brands, doing the right thing means encouraging customers to take a break from their services.’s mascot Captain Obvious encouraged everyone to “Just Stay Home,” a disruptive message addressing a practical concern. Uber similarly adjusted its messaging to encourage social distancing: “Stay home for everyone who can’t. Thank you for not riding Uber.” In doing so, it expressed the same sentiment as did but with added emotional resonance.
Disney parks offered up its churro recipe for people to make at home—a seemingly conservative action that connects deeply with its fan base. Meanwhile, McDonalds reassured people that it’d be there for them at the drive-through “because safety is our top priority,” while Coca-Cola added space to the letters in its logo and communicated, “Staying apart is the best way to stay united.”
Some of these are calm reassurances. Others are funny. Still others just let people know that the brands understand what they are going through and want to be there for them. All are effective in their own right.
Finding a Brand’s Voice in Times of Crisis
So how can a brand determine the appropriate approach for its messaging and tone in times of crisis? Let’s break down the different personas of the aforementioned ad executions.
All these brands’ messages can be evaluated on two spectrums: from conservative to disruptive, and from practical to emotional. Here’s how we at Aki see these various ad executions:

And each of the four quadrants has a persona attached to it. They are:

The Evangelist
The Mother
The Activist
The Banker

Each persona has its own pros and cons that you’ll want to weigh before settling on the right approach for your brand. To help you figure out which persona is best for you, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions and take stock of what you represent during the pandemic, such as:
  • Is your brand or product considered an essential product or service?
  • Can your business operate as usual during the pandemic?
  • What’s your primary objective: awareness, loyalty, engagement, conversion?
  • Who does your brand appeal to most? How much of a risk are you willing to take?
  • Does your brand solve a pandemic-related need? What’s your call to action?
If you’d like to find out how to best position your product, take our quiz. It also offers up the pros and cons of each approach, and will help you determine the right path for your brand in this ongoing crisis.
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