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Brand Messaging in a Time of Crisis

In this time of uncertainty, businesses and brands are having to re-invent how they message on the fly. The models are changing and there is no one blueprint. More importantly, as in any time of crisis, how we leverage our voice to preserve dignity and lift spirits is our true test of character.

Here are some examples of brands that are finding ways to communicate who they are now (which could be quite different than who they were just days earlier) and how they are helping.


Bulgaria travel industry

When Bulgaria experienced a total shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s tourism industry suffered. This Bulgarian travel agency wanted to encourage consumers to remain optimistic and did so by creating this print campaign for European travel, promoting the concept of traveling worry-free with discounted packages and no expiry dates. The fun twist? They used a play on Instagram’s country-named filters to promote their own travel destinations.



People love to point out when Starbucks spells their name wrong on their morning coffee cup. Starbucks took this concept and was able to make fun of itself while thanking customers for wearing masks in stores, pointing out the fact that now, everyone’s name is more likely to be spelled wrong.

Burger King

Burger King ad

Burger King Tel Aviv knew they would find their audience at the beach this summer, so they created the perfect way to help them enjoy their favorite activities (and foods) while maintaining proper social distance!

Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd ad
Sea Shepherd ad
Sea Shepherd ad

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society saw indifference during the pandemic affecting more than just the people of the world. They created this powerful campaign representing how ignorance and indifference during COVID-19 affects our marine life by polluting our rivers, lakes and oceans with non-recyclable latex gloves, getting across the message that, for everyone, we all need to care significantly more.

Volvo: “The safest place to be”

Volvo has spent decades honing its brand positioning as the safe car. Playing off that messaging, the company acknowledges that consumers should not be leaving their homes right now, expressing empathy and creating a deeper layer of brand trust. The message shows awareness of the situation and allows Volvo to leverage the trust consumers already have in the brand to encourage them to stay home and stay safe. After all, who wouldn’t trust Volvo on what’s safe?

NHSPCA: Pet Portraits

The NHSPCA relies on donations to care for the many animals it serves each year. To encourage donations while people may not have as much money to give, they gave consumers who donated between April 8–10 something in return: a hand-drawn portrait of their pet! As an organization funded by donations, this is a great way to encourage people to continue to give if they are able.

Hotels.com: “Just stay home.”

In a bold move, Hotels.com has changed its tagline on this COVID-19 ad to “Just stay home.” Coming from a brand that measures success in part by trips booked, this is a unique way to alter messaging to be in line with CDC recommendations while still remaining top-of-mind when we get to the other side of this.

CHD Living: “Adopt a Grandparent”

CHD Living, a London-based network of nursing homes, is encouraging English-speakers around the world to “Adopt a Grandparent.” This is a great move to not only get people involved in volunteering, but to also help alleviate some of the loneliness that comes with quarantine, both for the elderly and for younger generations who may not have grandchildren or grandparents of their own. Learn more

Ford: “Built to Lend a Hand”

The uncertainty of a national emergency brings with it great fears in terms of economic instability. Ford has taken a proactive approach to addressing these concerns for their customers through an emotional brand message that draws comparison to their resilience in past times of need, and a promise of support for those who are worried about making payments on their Ford vehicles today.

Verizon: “We’re here. And we’re ready.”

Verizon uses a play on their traditional messaging that they are America’s largest, most reliable network and connects that with the concept of keeping you connected to school, work, and your loved ones during these tough times. A word of reassurance while we all rely heavily on internet access from home.

Red Hat: “A Postcard from Italy”

You don’t have to have high production quality to put out a touching message that resonates. Red Hat celebrates the concept of remote work as relatable by showing what their employees’ different work-from-home setups looks like, which promotes the idea that while they may not be there physically, they’re still a cohesive team.

Coca-Cola: “Staying apart is the best way to stay united.”

Coca-Cola leveraged its world-renowned logo in a way that most brands prohibit in their style guides—by altering it. By adding spaces to the iconic logo and placing it in one of the busiest places in the world (Times Square), they put a creative spin with a quick turnaround time on the concept of social distancing.

River Spring Health: “Stay Connected”

A simple webpage function can provide a meaningful connection that some people are currently lacking. If you run a business that is closed to visitors, like a senior living facility, consider providing a function on a webpage that allows residents or patients to connect with their loved ones virtually.

Nike: “Play Inside, Play for the World”

Connecting your core brand message to a positive social movement provides exponential reach. Nike’s “Play Inside, Play for the World” message has resonated with athletes around the globe, both professional and amateur. And brand ambassadors are rewarding Nike by sharing this message of positivity and resilience.

Boston Aquarium: “Virtual Visits”

While businesses have been forced to close their doors to visitors around the globe, many brands have resorted to making their brand experiences available online for free. The Boston Aquarium is currently offering daily videos online showcasing educational content around their exhibits—a great way to keep those kids at home entertained and inspired.

Liberty Utilities: “Ways to Save”

Email communications remain an integral part of brand communication to existing customers in times of crisis. With more and more people staying at home and working remotely, Liberty Utilities offers customers a message of reassurance and helpful tips on how to save energy and money during the daytime and nighttime hours at home.