Nuances of brand communication during a crisis: Sapna Arora, OLX

Guest Column: Sapna Arora, CMO of OLX India, says brands should weigh every piece of communication they undertake & evaluate its necessity during times of crisis

e4m by Sapna Arora
Published: Apr 28, 2020 8:46 AM  | 4 min read
Brand Communication

We live in a time replete with uncertainty and unpredictability. This prevalent uncertainty is also trickling down to brands and their communication. Brands currently are grappling with this new normal and without a doubt, this will change the way brands communicate in the near future. Brands need to communicate with the utmost care, exude positivity and communicate with empathy.

Brands should weigh in every piece of communication they undertake and evaluate the necessity of the same. An incoherent piece of communication could have long term implications amidst the crisis.

Consumer sentiments are undergoing a change and owing to the continuously evolving nature of the crisis, brands may often be tempted to communicate in real-time and instantly. It is crucial for any brand to evaluate their approach to communication during this time. Done tactfully and with sensitivity, it could enable a brand to etch itself deeper in their consumer’s mind. Done incorrectly, it could backfire on the brand and make it seem opportunistic. Here are some key things to consider for brands while communicating amidst this crisis.

Know your brand and stay prudent

  • Every brand is unique and communication must be tailored in accordance with the brand’s objectives. Amidst a crisis, brands need to stay away from over or under communication. Over-communication could drive your consumers away while under communication could reflect a lack of concern. Marketing managers need to evaluate their role in the current crisis and lead the mandate to communicate prudently. Consumers today are facing a deluge of communication online and over communication will create a sense of cognitive dissonance in them. Only communicating what is necessary and steering away from non-essential communication should be the mantra.

Communicate; internally and externally about any changes:

  • Address your audience both internally(employees) & externally(consumers) and keep them informed about the ongoing developments at your brand business. An organisation may not have all the answers at their disposal but regular timely updates to your internal and external stakeholders will assuage their nerves and help dispel any anxiety.
  • For example, if you are in the business of manufacturing consumer electronics, then notify the consumer that due to the current circumstance the manufacturing is on hold and they will get their orders, once the business resumes. Keep providing real-time updates and proactively reach out to the consumer. Transparency is the key for long term support and business continuity.

The tone of your communication:

  • Brands should gauge their tone of communication during a crisis in real-time. The situation demands that any communication should be empathetic and not tone deaf. Brands should display cautious optimism in their communication. Communication should reflect trust in the future and help keep the spirits up for their audience.

Be forthright in assisting your stakeholders:

  • Companies have come forward in this time to help the community through their own meaningful ways through donations, financial support, business support and more. Any brand that is lending a hand to fight this crisis should be forthright in communicating the steps they have taken to alleviate the societal distress. Consumers relate strongly to brands which stand for a cause and giving back to society is a positive gesture.

Communicating beyond your business:

  • A brand-consumer relationship should not be merely transactional in nature. During a crisis, brands must show consideration to their consumers that they are willing to extend themselves beyond their business objectives and create a sense of community which emphasises the importance of coming together.

Brands which showcase empathy and purpose will stand the test of times and resurface from the crisis much better than brands that don’t. The new normal of the current crisis is expected to last for months to come and brands will have to adapt to this change in real-time lest they lose relevance with their consumers. Brands which are authentic to their consumers and take pains to discover their purpose amidst these times will not only weather the storm but will as well tide over the crisis much better than their competitors.

(Sapna Arora is Chief Marketing Officer of online marketplace OLX India)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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