The WHY and HOW of branding in times of crisis

4 min readDec 9, 2022


No matter how hard we try, we can never be well enough prepared to face a crisis. One of the main reasons is that any crisis comes with many uncertainties and changes that are difficult, if not impossible, to anticipate.
And the last few years have repeatedly shown us this fact, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing with the recent war in Ukraine.

So, what can a business or an organization of any kind do to survive or even to strengthen its position in the hostile context of a crisis?

“Branding” is certainly one of the correct answers to this question, and in many cases it could be the only one!
How so? Because, in essence, branding means assuming and keeping a promise to those for whom the business or organization matters, namely its customers, consumers and employees.
Thus, through a brand you manage to do more than just sell your product, service, or idea, you manage to create a strong connection with people who can support you in your endeavor, a beneficial, long-term connection that cannot be destroyed by a crisis, as long as some basic principles are followed.

1. Let the brand purpose guide you
If you know why your brand exists and what impact it wants to make on people’s lives, beyond material gains, then you need to make sure that all of its actions continue to converge toward that purpose, even if many things will not be the same as before the crisis. But if it is not clear in which direction you are going, now is the best time to find out what your business’ North Star is, to be able to navigate further in difficult times.

2. Convey an authentic and coherent message
Certainly, the brand speech needs to be adapted to the new economic and social reality so that it remains relevant to its audiences, but it needs to be supported by what the brand is and does, by the actions and beliefs of the people behind it. Thus, make sure that the brand values ​​and personality remain unchanged, even if the message is different, precisely because they make it authentic, giving customers and employees the feeling of security and familiarity in an unknown context.

3. Communicate to be present and involved, not to sell
Contrary to the “conservation instinct” that tells you to minimize any action that does not directly contribute to turnover and profit, communication plays a key role in the context of a crisis. You need to make your presence felt, maybe even more than before, because your business audiences have, without a doubt, other priorities that capture their full attention right now. In addition, it is understandable that they are no longer receptive to classic advertising messages, so you need to find new ways to communicate and create useful content for them, to show that you are actively involved in solving their problems without trying to actually sell them something.

4. Be truly by your customers’ side
Putting the customer at the center of all your initiatives, actions and decisions to succeed in business is already an axiom. On the other hand, being permanently connected to your customer to find out how the changes caused by the crisis are affecting him, what his needs and “pains” are and how you can offer him something valuable today, is a significant effort that you will have to make. Now more than ever it is necessary for the brand to show empathy, to be flexible and open in the relationship with the customer, to help him unconditionally, to gain his trust and loyalty, to build that indestructible connection we were talking about.

5. Be more than a brand, be human
The fact that your business is with and about people should be reflected in everything it does. Rather, your brand should speak and behave like a human being. That means not being afraid to show its vulnerability, admitting that it can’t know and do everything, or it might make mistakes. Transparency is vital in the relationship with your customers and employees to stay credible, and compassion can help you both manage it and find the right approach to overcoming the challenges of a crisis.

As a conclusion, if we look back, we see that any crisis so far has had an end, and that brands that have managed to stand out and move forward, remaining in the minds and souls of people, are those who have had a purpose in which people believed and a promise of value that they kept at all costs, strengthening everybody’s conviction that it’s worth fighting for together.

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