29th Apr 2020

Marketing in the time of lockdown should start (and end) with Brand Purpose

While living in lockdown, as people navigate the journey from the initial stage of panic to the current stage of adjustment, brands too need to focus on actions that help address people’s needs.

Marketing in the time of lockdown should start (and end) with Brand Purpose

For brands looking to meaningfully engage with people, one way to determine which actions are most relevant is to start with purpose. A brand’s purpose tells you what a brand stands for and what it’s going to do about it. It is a brand’s reason for existence and not it’s reason for selling. As such, in these uncertain times when people’s needs continue to evolve, it becomes essential to understand and more importantly, act upon your brand purpose.

In studying how well-known brands across the world are helping people cope with quarantine living, Brand Purpose emerges as the common thread that guides each of their marketing actions -


Whirlpool helps people care for the ones they love by creating products that make the everyday acts of cooking and cleaning easier, faster and better. With millions of children currently staying at home and therefore learning at home, Chore Club by Whirlpool was launched; a social series built to help parents reinforce concepts taught at school through cooking, baking and cleaning chores.


Helping people think differently is at the heart of everything Apple does as an organization. Today at Apple is a unique retail experience that reflects this belief by connecting people and their passions with Apple products through a series of free programs held at their stores. In order to help people continue to explore their creativity while staying at home, the Today at Apple experience has now shifted indoors, with Creative Pros from the company’s retail stores shooting short digital sessions in their homes.


Disney’s aim has always been to entertain, inform and inspire people through the power of unparalleled storytelling. In order to provide joy and comfort in these uncertain times, The Disney Family Singalong was created, a musical-themed experience featuring a lineup of 16 superstars including Beyoncé, Ariana Grande and Josh Groban performing their favourite Disney numbers from their own homes.

British Telecom (BT)

BT believes in using the power of communications to make a better world and its latest partnership with ITV in the UK brings to life this purpose by equipping people with the digital skills needed to get through this challenging time. Based on search data analysis during the lockdown period, BT identified a range of vital skills people needed help with and through a series of 12 individual ad break takeovers on ITV, well-known personalities were brought on board to teach these skills and help people connect with each other and access important online services and information.


Bringing inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world (*if you have a body, you are an athlete) is what Nike stands for as a brand. At a time when people are confined to life indoors, Nike continues to live this purpose in multiple ways - by inspiring commitment through a library of digital workouts and resources, by creating a sense of community through livestreamed workouts led by Nike Master Trainers, by coaching through partnerships that encourage kids to stay active and by fulfilling an athlete's desire for competition through digital fitness challenges.

When acted upon consistently, a brand’s purpose can be a powerful source of value for both people and the brand. In times of crisis and change, purpose takes on even greater significance as it provides focus for your efforts, as illustrated by the examples above.

A note of caution: if your marketing messages or actions do not stem from your brand purpose, at worst it runs the risk of eroding your equity and at best, may be deemed unremarkable. Many brands feel the overwhelming need to communicate during these times and opt for generic messaging in an effort to stay relevant. However in doing so, they end up with communication that serves neither the brand nor its audience.

In navigating these uncertain times, it is more important than ever for brands to stay true to their purpose and allow it to guide them towards acts that create a meaningful impact in people’s lives.