The top three marketing and branding lessons we learned from COVID-19


You’ve spent months, years, and maybe even decades developing a brand that gets you noticed, differentiates you from your competitors, makes people desire your services, and ultimately allows you to charge more money for your offering. Despite the current challenges that have unfolded due to COVID-19, now is not the time to stop adhering to your brand standards. In fact, you should now double down on your commitment to your brand. More than ever, people are looking for dependability, stability, and safety, which presents an opportunity to let your brand shine. How, you may ask? Here are a few key learnings that you and your brand can begin to implement into your branding and marketing strategies moving forward.
Do not abandon your brand.
No matter how crazy things get, do not deviate from your brand. Times like these are exactly why brands exist: consistency and trust. For a great example of this, we can look to the cruise industry. Although many cruise ships were docked at sea as travel restrictions were placed in the beginning of COVID-19, they still managed to find a way to keep up with engaging content and leverage user-generated images. This strategy allowed them to remain relevant in a moment there was no movement in the industry. In their social media strategies, cruise lines understood what platforms their audiences were most receptive to and they prioritized these avenues. During the peak of COVID-19 and still now as we work through recovery, hotels and travel destinations may not yet have a set date as to when travelers will be able to plan their next trip, but it’s critical that they make sure that when it does happen, they are just as ready as they were before. Ahead, you’ll find specific examples on how to do just that.
Share practical content to remain engaged with your followers and loyal guests.
One way to continue that level of communication is through your e-newsletters. Instead of halting your efforts, hotels can craft lifestyle content such as sharing lists of movies to watch, recipes that guests can recreate at home, at-home spa tips, and interactive family focused activities, among other topics. These informative newsletters can be shared on a weekly or bi-weekly basis so subscribers can associate your brand as an informative resource. As you begin to grow retention, subscribers will begin to keep you top of mind and it will be much easier to segue into the normal pace of scheduled promotions.
Avoid emphasizing sales and focus on the well-being of your customers.
This ties into being mindful of the current situation, as millions of Americans, and perhaps many of your own employees, have been laid off and continue to seek unemployment benefits. It’s not about selling during a crisis, but it is about positioning yourself as a resource. People are going to be cautious but also hungry for experiences after the long period of staying at home. As you near a reopening date, hospitality brands specifically can further communicate their flexible cancellation policies and rigorous sanitation procedures to bring a sense of comfort to their customers.
It has been impactful to see how communities, organizations, and hotels have come together to provide for those in need. The hospitality sector has been hit tremendously hard by the pandemic, and as we prepare and resume operations and welcoming guests to our establishments, we can continue to move forward by implementing these practices through our strategies. Remaining engaged with your followers and customers goes beyond the typical follow-up calls; it’s about genuinely being there for them during moments like these that can make all the difference. Brand your personal protective equipment, keep your brand tone of voice, and ensure that your brand promise is being delivered in everything you do.

Mark Natale is the chief executive officer of Smarthinking Inc. At the tender age of 6, he stumbled upon the band Kiss and their album “Destroyer.” From that moment on, he’s been all about brands. Smarthinking Inc. is an award-winning integrated brand development agency with a distinct focus on real estate and hospitality. Please visit for more information.


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