How Ukrainian brands not to lose face during the war
Marketing is always about timely change. The ability of a business to adapt to new conditions, respond to changing consumer needs and find new points of contact is something without which a brand cannot survive. At least in the demanding Ukrainian market. Read more in the exclusive blog for Channel 24 website.
Yes, with the outbreak of a full-scale war, the urgent need for flexibility and speed felt the whole business – from small to large. Dark times have come for some, because they could not communicate about deliveries to Russia before February 24 or translate social networks and services into Ukrainian.
At the same time, there are brands that managed to stay relevant. They have their own personality and are not shy about being vulnerable. After all, we are all like that. Based on my marketing experience, I will tell you how to be among those same brands.
Ukrainian marketing trends
Let's start with a change that was impossible not to notice – the marketing we were used to disappeared with the first explosions on the morning of February 24.
Companies switched to survival mode and satisfying the basic functions of consumers. Food manufacturers and retail players were aware that they could not just sit back and dismiss their teams. Otherwise, who would feed the Ukrainians then?
A few weeks after the full-scale invasion, companies began to come to their senses and utter some kind of life-affirming messages. Let's call this trend the strengthening and flexibility of communications.
Everything Ukrainian has become a super-powerful trend, which cannot but rejoice. Prints on clothes, appropriate designs, transferring part of the profits for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, new naming – these are just a few practices out of many. Thus, Molokiya supported the campaign of the Office of the President “Courage” and introduced the brand under that name. Another favorite example of mine is the “Johnsonyuk” croissant at a coffee shop in Kyiv.
You know, it's very cool. I admire the ability of our business to create situational marketing or PR manifestations. On the one hand, no one wanted such an informational occasion, on the other hand, we know how to use it successfully and for the benefit of the country.
The trend towards Ukrainianness was picked up by the world. It has gone beyond commercial brands and their marketing to become a nationwide brand and marketing. I am sure that we have no equal in creativity and speed of thinking. Not everyone can catch the situation so successfully and in time. However, we must be careful that this trend does not die down over time.
As for other changes in marketing, the redistribution of budgets among communication channels should be mentioned. Television is definitely not in the first place in terms of the share of expenses yet, because everyone understood that “talking to the masses” from the TV screen is more about informing than about sales.
I must say that right now the process of transformation and rethinking of marketing is underway, so we will see more than one change.
What changed my team in marketing
With the outbreak of a full-scale war, Ukrainians felt the need for close connection and contact with their families. It is the same in the search for one's own among strangers: not only long-term acquaintances or relatives have become one's own, but also those with whom one can love Ukraine together and repulse the enemy.
We live in the company then same thing. The only difference is that it is a collective image, a brand. However, there are always people behind it and marketing.
That's why we're aiming for more consumer contact than ever before. Close communication, personal connection. We prefer to tell about ourselves not with advertising slogans, but with live life stories in texts and videos. It is not a common voice that is heard, but the needs and desires of Ukrainians, the responsibility for the implementation of which we can take upon ourselves.
The emphasis should always be on high product quality. This means the inadmissibility of cheating or lowering the requirements for the product, even despite the war. However, after February 24, the approaches to communication had to be reconsidered. In addition to the messages about positioning or description of the novelty that are generally introduced in marketing, there were backstages for the production and coverage of the team's work. Fortunately, I know that many companies have chosen this path. And the most interesting lies in the approach of each of them.
One of the most valuable communication steps was the already mentioned “Courage” campaign. It was obvious: the larger it was, the better the result. It was also obvious that the Ukrainians needed support and self-confidence, especially when the horrors of war become commonplace and hands fall from fatigue and disappointment. A great way to do this was to encourage brand characters.
What Not to Do in Marketing Now
Although the limits of acceptable have become wider, this does not mean that brands can afford everything. To better understand these limitations, imagine the decisions and actions of the average person. So don't:
Be fuzzy in your position.< /strong>Ukrainians do not forgive if a brand chooses for a long time which side it is on. We are all witnesses of how stars and brands that have chosen two chairs at once disappear from the information field. However, it is important not to lose this list, so as not to subsequently look for reasons to return the products of “defectors” to the shelves or tolerate the songs of the stars “I am for peace, and culture is out of politics.”
Pretend it didn't happen. There are still companies trying to operate the way they used to. However, this is only a futile battle with windmills, because a complete change in context cannot be ignored, and with it a change in the moods and prejudices of the target audience.
Publish neutral or, worse, entertaining content during the most difficult psychological periods. War is an incredibly difficult emotional test. Every day, the best of us die at the hands of the enemy – a fact that should push brands towards certain filters. Each message must pass through a finer “sieve” of censorship than before.
Of course, life goes on, no matter what. It is not worth talking only about war and grief. However, there are days, especially difficult and gray ones, when it is better to postpone the scheduled publication. And if there are not enough words of compassion, pause.
What brands should do
You can build an action plan, taking into account the previous points. Suggestions:
Talk. Don't let yourself disappear from consumer radar. Often, the brand is a pillar and support in the quest to feel that everything will be fine. Become her.
Change. Watch for relevance, trends, readiness to accept you differently. To do this, you need to be constantly on the topic and have a keen sense of the possibilities for change.
Be unique. It's easy to copy competitors, but isn't it cool to create and implement your own?
Work with the best. For marketing to live, people inside the process must burn with their work. Not just to perform tasks and implement projects, but to be their creators. This is about ordering external services – work with the best and those you can call a team, not contractors.
Be bold. In your messages, tools, even products. Boldness makes us expressive and attractive to people and brands alike. It makes us Ukrainians.
That's why I tried to give universal advice for each brand in order to support Ukrainians and each other on a common front. However, remember that the experience is unique. The relationship with the consumer and within the team, the manifestation of care, support and love are also special. Maybe our uniqueness is our strength?