Brand Generosity in an Era of Uncertainty

Alexandra Gordon

Managing Director

At Matter Unlimited, we are in the business of helping other businesses do good. It’s not always easy, but it is always rewarding. Most vitally, it takes vision, innovation and genuine follow-through from business leadership. 

Not all brands go the distance. Actioning your purpose as a brand has many challenges and is a serious investment. And while we are seeing more bravery, thanks to an era of conscious consumers, the business world is now facing it’s most public and tangible test, with the arrival of the COVID-19 virus. 

Before we all knew what COVID-19 was, BAMM Global conducted a research study they called ‘The Uncertainty Project’. They highlighted ‘uncertainty’ as a powerful magnifier of inequality, something we are now seeing exposed in real time. They found this uncertainty results in people wanting to become more ‘groupish’ in their behaviours. But in a time of social distancing, that’s a uniquely unhelpful coping mechanism. So we need to adapt, because the solutions we generate now, may very well change the way we work, play, problem-solve and connect forever. 

Brand generosity has historically been mixed and taken the form of giant checks or employee volunteer days. But now we have a purpose driven economy where one purpose has come to unite us all. Companies are finding new ways to intimately connect their core offering to the cause, weaving a more cohesive narrative and truly re-imagining what good they can do with their products, platforms and technologies.

This global pandemic has actually inspired infinite acts of brand generosity, In fact, some of those acts are already cutting through this climate of uncertainty. Providing extra access, important information, comfort, entertainment or convenience when people are at their most vulnerable.

Scholastic quickly launched the Learn at Home platform providing free online classes. Allowing them to demonstrate their commitment ‘to help the individual child learn and grow’, in spite of school closures across the US. And since we should never stop learning, for the grown-ups, Linkedin has offered some of its online courses for free.  Helpful topics are available; such as how to optimize your productivity in our new ‘work-from-home’ reality. 

A number of national chains, delivery, and moving services have also pledged support to communities during this time of crisis. Sweetgreen announced it will use their Outpost operations to deliver free meals to hospital workers and medical personnel. And U-Haul offered 30 days free storage for students who have been forced to move suddenly. 

Even technologies and supply chains are being repurposed to support the new demands of the day, LVMH took just 72 hours to swap production from luxury goods to a product that has become a new kind of luxury in France, bottles of hand sanitizer. The bottles were supplied to doctors and nurses across the country. 

So to all brands navigating this uncharted, uncertain time. When and where possible, lean into generosity. It strengthens your bond with your core audience, it invites new audiences in, it grounds you in the communities you serve, it provides a platform for authentic storytelling, and it forces a new kind of innovation (that IS kinder).

Let’s hope the business lessons of COVID-19 accelerate a new kind of capitalism where generosity guides brand actions, and the socially responsible path is naturally (and rightfully) seen as the prosperous path as well. 

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