What brand purpose means in the age of coronavirus

Brand purpose has been an advertising trend for several years now, but now that companies’ actions and behaviour are truly being tested, which are performing well under pressure?

Covid-19 has thrown everything in our daily lives up in the air, shattering our social, work and home routines and limiting our sense of freedom. We are all beginning to take stock of how we will manage our lives over the next months, and are watching how others are responding for guidance. This includes brands.

The pandemic has arrived a time when brands have become obsessed with their purpose in people’s lives. This has seen waves of advertising – some good, much bad – where brands have hitched their wagons to causes from feminism to politics in the hope that they will come out of it looking engaged and empathetic.

But here we are suddenly in a situation where the mettle of brands and their management teams are being tested live on air. There is no time to orchestrate a carefully composed marketing campaign or a blockbuster TV ad, and instead the public are watching as companies expose their true colours in real time.

It is undoubtedly a difficult time for brands. Many are facing extraordinary business challenges to stay afloat throughout the pandemic, and to support their staff. And yet this is also a time when brands can make a mark, not through a shiny marketing campaign, but through genuine acts of value.


There is a tightrope for brands to walk at the moment. If they try too obviously to make money from coronavirus, they will rightly be called out. And yet to not acknowledge what’s going on is also strange. This has led to an influx of the earnest brand emails that have been filling up everyone’s inboxes in the last week. While some of these have been useful – vital travel information, for example – a lot of them seem to simply be about brands acknowledging the situation to their email list, as if we hadn’t all clocked what was going on by ourselves.


Milton Keynes