It’s hard to deny that most business owners (and their employees) are currently experiencing unparalleled stress likely worsened by confusion, doubt, and perhaps fear. However, true leaders will take the opportunity to view this as a time for innovation and growth that could find us all stronger on the other side, establishing a rock-solid business reputation for those businesses that acted wisely.
Many people would agree that your reputation is everything. Warren Buffet is quoted as saying, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Brands will either build a positive or negative legacy based on their actions during these trying times. JustCapital.com has created a corporate response tracker to inform readers which brands are implementing crucial policies and practices to support their workers, customers, and local communities and which aren’t. Which companies treated their employees well? Which didn’t?
Amazon, for one, has taken a hit to its reputation due to news of its alleged maltreatment of its employees. Most recently Amazon Vice President, Tim Bray resigned in response to the company’s firing of employees who had publicly questioned Amazon’s lack of commitment to workplace safety during the pandemic. Hobby Lobby, Landry’s, WeWork, Gamestop, and Instacart are others that have received failing grades in the court of public opinion for how they treated their employees.
On the other hand, Microsoft was one of the quickest to respond, insisting their employees work from home and continuing to pay all vendor hourly service providers their regular pay even when work hours were reduced due to diminished need.
At Cushman & Wakefield, CEO and executive teams took pay cuts to avoid layoffs and also launched a Global Employee Assistance Fund as part of a $5 million dollar commitment to help those impacted by the Coronavirus.
Although Airbnb was recently forced to lay off almost 25% of its workforce, those laid off will receive 14 weeks of base pay plus an additional week for every year they worked at Airbnb. They will also provide 12 months of healthcare for laid-off U.S. employees.
Mark Cuban (along with many other generous acts) announced that any of the employees of the Mark Cuban Companies will be reimbursed for any lunch and coffee purchases from local, independent small businesses, thereby showing his appreciation for his employees while doing his part to support local businesses.
Which companies were philanthropic and altruistic vs. those that were simply mercenaries? As noted by the Harvard Business Review, “Empathy is critical.” “Brands that use this time to be commercially exploitative will not fare well.”
PR News Online reported the outrage over corporations that appear to have exploited opportunities that had been created to rescue small business owners. How you respond to a crisis defines you as a person AND as an entity.
Lego, Micron, Lowes, Twitter, and Truist are among those who’ve made sizable contributions to various funds and foundations addressing Coronavirus-caused needs.
Build loyalty by showing you care and that we’ll get through this TOGETHER. The companies that are donating time, money, or even selling at cost (to keep the business afloat AND continue to keep their employees working) will be noticed in a positive way.
For example, A T & T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, recently signed a pledge drafted by the FCC. The commitment included waiving late fees, opening WiFi hotspots to all, and agreeing not to terminate service due to late payments during the pandemic, among other things. In addition, each carrier has announced their own version of increased data allowance, free international calling to countries most affected, and additional lower-priced tier offerings. They then invested in communicating this commitment via tv, internet, and print.
Optimal Station felt strongly about the need to be part of the solution as well, thereby creating a philanthropic division of the company named, “Optimal Together” with its goal being to band together with like-minded companies and organizations to offer solutions and support.
Read more about its genesis in our previous blog (which is where you’ll learn about the beginning of our bee-centric identity).
It’s not too late to give your customers a reason to remember you in a positive light. If done correctly, they will actively and consciously choose you not just now but in the future.
A poll conducted by World Trademark Review found that “65% of respondents stated that how well a brand responds to the crisis now will have a huge impact on the likelihood of them buying its products in the future.”
Just like 911 brought people together and created connections, the same can be true post-pandemic. Make sure to highlight stories of hope and giving and connections. Give back (if only a happy social media post) so they have a positive image of your brand (AND because it’s simply the right thing to do).