Uncertainty Calls for Empathy and Creativity

How to shift your strategy in uncertain times.

Uncertainty seems to rule everything around us. We don't know how long we'll have to stay at home and keep social distance. We don't know how the economy will react over the next few months. We don't know what normal will look like once things finally "go back to normal." 

Uncertainty breeds fear. It's why companies pull back on advertising during uncertain times. But times like these can also be an opportunity. While others pull back, it provides more room for brands to get their message out and tell their story. They just need to be sure they're telling the right story in the right way: with empathy and creativity.

Strategize With Empathy

The coronavirus pandemic is hitting industries differently. Sectors like news, video conferencing, and esports are seeing surges in their userbase right now. Hotels and restaurants are among the companies hardest hit while we have to stay at home.

As you strategize for brand promotions, think of what the company is going through during these turbulent times. Put yourself in their position. This isn’t just about recognizing who might still have enough cashflow to buy ads. This is about thinking on a human level. How can you help them solve the unique concoction of problems that the pandemic has thrown their way? And, ideally, how can you do it in a way that will bring a positive impact to the world?

For companies that are still doing well, recognize that nothing feels like business as usual right now. Their internal team might be strained to meet the spike of demand while adapting to working remotely. Strategy for these companies needs to be about recognizing the opportunity, building momentum, and striking the right tone.

For brands that are more adversely affected, now is the time to be more creative than ever with your thinking. You could partner with one of these companies to execute an initiative that helps those in need right now - both in big and small ways. Automakers could utilize a fleet of vehicles to deliver groceries to the elderly. Hotel chains can donate their rooms to cities in need of more hospital beds. Restaurants can create videos on how people can make great meals with pantry staples. Some of these partnerships can naturally be an extension of your company. For example, a kid’s network could partner with a daycare or educational toy company to provide resources to help parents who now have to balance working and teaching from home. We love this fun idea from Cartoon Network to encourage kids to stay connected right now.



Cartoon Network - Stay In Touch PSA from elevation on Vimeo.

While these ideas won’t bring back regular revenue streams, they are ways to create brand awareness and provide aid in a time when it is desperately needed. When times are uncertain, use empathy for both clients and their customers as a main driver of your strategy. 

Create and Innovate

Your content strategy also needs to account for the current constraints of the age of quarantine. Well, as Orson Welles once said, “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” Constraints can be the mother of creativity.  If you can’t utilize your trusted production process, look at this as an opportunity to try something completely new.

You can’t plan on making a spot with a multi-person shoot right now. But with some ingenuity, there are ways you can safely shoot high-quality content remotely. The CBS show All Rise is using Zoom and FaceTime to shoot an entire episode. Stephen Colbert went from recording his monologue with his iPad in his bathtub to creating an at-home studio with proper lighting and broadcast quality cameras. 

Another alternative is to try a different medium. We’ve created a guide with ideas on how to substitute your live action production with motion graphics or animation. The production process on these projects has not been affected by stay at home orders, meaning you have more flexibility with your creative strategy.

When resources are constrained, innovative thinking will get you further.

The world is a different place than it was a month ago. We're all facing this uncertainty together. With empathy and creativity, we can also get through this uncertainty together.

Read more articles on brand promotion strategies and techniques here.

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Topics: brand promotions, creative strategy


Elevation is the Atlanta-based creative studio dedicated to helping brands soar higher through beautifully-designed solutions. We're so passionate about storytelling, design, and creativity that we can't contain it to just our work. So we are taking lessons from years of experience over countless projects and sharing our expertise here.

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