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Changing Face Of Brands @ COVID-19

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As part of our new series, ‘Marketers Playbook for 2020 Post Covid-19′, Dr. Khyati Jagani, Assistant Professor, Marketing, FLAME  University looks at how brands have modified their logos to spread the message of social distancing

In the global fight against Covid-19, brands around the world have taken an unprecedented step. To showcase their support towards the government and human-wellbeing at large, brands have modified their logos to spread the message of social distancing.

Brands such as Audi and Coca-Cola have taken upon themselves to promote the social distancing measure issued by the World Health Organization by altering the elements in their brand’s logo. From a pure branding perspective, a logo helps the brand in creating a brand image and brand identity, making it the most critical among all the brand elements. And, therefore, a brand rarely makes any modification in its logo in its entire lifetime. However, at this time of the global fight against Covid-19, brands have altered and modified their logo in some form or the other.

Volkswagen, McDonald’s, Fevicol, Audi, Guinness, Coca-Cola, Bisleri, and ICICI are some of the brands that have changed their logo. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Audi, and Volkswagen have generated space between the elements of their  logo. Guinness, ICICI, and Bisleri have been more creative with light effects and structural alterations to create social distancing and the stay home message.

In this scenario, the real questions are: why are brands promoting social distancing, and stay home messages? Are brands fulfilling their social responsibility or merely joining the current trend? By promoting social distancing and stay at home messages, are brands attempting to create an image of a social brand, or are they doing cause-related marketing? They are difficult questions with even more complicated answers to it. While one cannot be sure about the intention of the brands behind the promotion of a social distancing message through logo alteration, it is for sure a step in the right direction and need of the hour.

In my opinion, brand promotion of social distancing offers numerous advantages. It helps society by creating awareness of social distancing. It provides a long term gain to brands by creating a socially responsible brand image. However, I view it as a golden opportunity to create a long-term and sustainable image of a socially responsible brand. It is not a time to think about the instant results and immediate returns, however it is time to plan for a long term brand image. It is an opportunity to create an image of a brand that cares about the wellbeing of customers over profits. Brands like celebrities and influencers have an extraordinary impact on consumer decision making. They can spread the message of social distancing in diverse ways such as television commercials, social media, and other forms of advertisements. It benefits both the consumers and brands.

Examples of new logos are as follows:

To raise awareness for maintaining a social distance from one another, Volkswagen increased the gap between the V and W in its logo. The logo placed the words “Thanks For Keeping Your Distance.”

McDonald’s altered its iconic golden M logo in a similar form. The company posted a picture of its separated M on Facebook to promote social distancing and standing alone.

Audi also separated the four, normatively interconnected rings of its logo on a social media post. The automobile company posted the video of its newly altered logo on Twitter with a message, “Stay at home, keep your distance, stay healthy, support each other – we are in this together.”

Guinness, an Irish brewer, altered its brand logo. The classic foam on the pint got replaced with a sofa with the critical message, “Stay at home.”

Coca-Cola created space between each letter of its logo with the slogan, “Staying apart is the best way to stay united.”

Bisleri twisted their logo with contrasting brightness and color and created a message, “Be Safe.” They promoted it on social media with hashtag #BeSafe and #SocialDistancing

ICICI created multiple formats of its logo to encourage the consumers to use online banking instead of visiting banks, with the message “Stay at home, Bank on us.”

And Fevicol promoted its message of social distancing by increasing the distance between the two elephants pulling the rope. It also changed its message to “Kal ke mazboot jod ke liye, aaj thodi doori maintain karona.” It translates to “For  strong connection in the future, please maintain distance today.”

In this time of crisis where the entire world is fighting for survival in terms of human life and slowing economies, advertisement spends should not be viewed as an avenue of immediate financial return on investment. Instead,  they should be seen as a long term investment that will generate benefits in the future. Due to lockdown, people are spending more time on the internet, primarily on social networking sites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok, and they consume content generated not only in their own country but also created throughout the world. For brands, it is an excellent opportunity to showcase social responsibility and play a critical role in the fight against a common enemy of humankind, Covid-19.

Maintain social distancing and stay at home is the most important message for the whole world today. Motives aside, these brands have done an incredible job of creating awareness of social distancing. Spreading this message is the best thing one can do for the safety of all man-kind. The added advantage is that the new logos are fun and bring in the kind of creativity that we did not or even imagine. The brands have certainly got big “that’s fantastic” from me. What about you?

(Views expressed are personal)

 

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Dr. Khyati Jagani

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