What Brands Can Learn from Community in Times of Crisis

COVID-19 Presents Opportunity for Moral Leadership

Over the past weeks, COVID-19 has changed everything. Last week, we outlined the part brands have to play in the crisis, and how we’re entering a moment where brands will differentiate on an element emphasized like never before: their moral leadership.

In that piece we noted how trend forecaster Li Edelkoort declared the Coronavirus offers “a blank page for a new beginning,” where we embark on a “quarantine of consumption” that will ultimately build “an alternative and profoundly different world”.

Since publishing, the pandemic has progressed globally. Businesses have, where possible, moved their workforces online, physical locations have shuttered their doors and brands have taken it upon themselves to outline their stance and approach to the pandemic. These are unique times, and it takes a unique approach to effectively navigate them.

But while brands have chosen to share the blanket measures they’re taking, and embarked in making changes that flex their moral leadership, it was something much more personal, that took place on a smaller scale, that truly brought the situation home.

The Power of Challenger Thinking Amidst COVID-19

My father has Alzheimers. He’s immobile, non-verbal and dependent on long-term care staff and my mother to nourish and care for him. He lives at Parkwood Mennonite Home and my mother visits him daily to sit with him, love him and feed him. This is the beautiful nature of their relationship, and always has been.

COVID-19 changed that. The long-term care home is on lockdown, to protect their elderly and vulnerable, and I suspect some of its residents, suddenly abandoned by their loved ones, don’t quite understand what is happening.

It’s an emotionally difficult time for everyone involved but, by acting like a challenger and thinking differently to redefine industry norms, Parkwood has enabled caregivers to schedule FaceTime opportunities with residents, letting them see their loved ones and bring light to an otherwise dark situation. Last night I spent 30 minutes teaching my mom how to use FaceTime and, in the end, she was able to connect in with my dad. It was beautiful, and I’m grateful to Parkwood for making that happen.

This is just one example of the thousands of small businesses and millions of people currently asking themselves why it has to be a certain way, or how it could be better. By changing their perspective and approach, Parkwood found an opportunity to bolster our spirits, enable human connection, and support their community through challenging times.

It is the same approach that brands need to adopt now, more than ever. With this crisis comes opportunity to create a better, brighter future that is as creative as it is compassionate. I hope we continue to rise up and showcase the best of ourselves and our organizations, and redefine what success looks like – not just for the customers we serve and the employees that make that possible, but the broader communities that we are a part of, and the planet that we all inhabit.

Over the coming weeks we will continue to explore the successful Challenger Brands that have demonstrated this kind of leadership and provide insights that inform, inspire, and help navigate your business to that better, brighter future.

Rahul Raj is founder and CMO at 5&Vine. 


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