Build Your Brand by Helping in Times of Disaster


We have never seen so many natural disasters in such a short period of time. It is now obvious that we have developed populations and infrastructure in harm’s way. As the climate changes, it is becoming more apparent that these events will be the norm going forward.

We simply haven’t built cities to withstand the extremes we are witnessing. Firestorms in the West, mega-floods in the South, and humongous hurricanes in the Caribbean have all created tremendous shortages of the basic needs like clean drinking water, food, clothing, medical supplies and shelter.

So, what does this mega-trend mean to brand builders today? Two things:

  1. Supply an Immediate Need. If your brand can provide relief for shortages in any of the basic needs listed above, this is a golden opportunity to build your “good guy” image. Plus, you can build your overall brand awareness in a specific area at the same time. Rebuilding from a natural disaster may take years, so consider how you can best help the victims during those trying times. Think of donations of money, products, and labor not only as the humanitarian thing to do, but also keep in mind how it positions your brand. You have this opportunity to give people a social reason to buy your brand. We have found it to be stronger that all the mercantile reasons in the world. Your brand’s contributions in times of need not only creates loyal customers, but brand advocates!
  2. Be Prepared in Advance. The news coming out of Puerto Rico stated that they had a dire need for two basics: One was to be expected – clean drinking water. The other was surprising, but it shouldn’t have been – tarps. They needed immediate protection from the rains.In Northern California, adequate smoke protection masks couldn’t be found when our major fires erupted, but now that the air is clear, they’re in every store.How can your brand help folks prepare in advance of the next “big one”? If it isn’t your product, perhaps you can co-promote with a brand that does offer that needed, or soon to be needed, product. Perhaps you can cooperate in the distribution. Perhaps you can use your company’s resources to help get the word out about what ‘s needed so folks can stock up in advance.

The visibility of your brand contributing, supplying and working with those in need will not soon be forgotten, especially by those effected. Get beyond the sensational news feeds and research what folks really need in times of crisis. You’d be surprised. We were.

We recently were in a small town in the outskirts of the Wine Country fires, but because the entire county was still on alert and still had massive emergency resources committed to the region, guess what? No internet. Why? Because the bandwidth could not withstand the firefighters, relief workers, and victims all glued to the web at the same time. Somebody should have thought of that!

People who had to evacuate in the middle of the night had barely enough time to grab a few things. Most grabbed pictures, insurance policies and back up documents, medical prescriptions, and clothes. Photo scanning services and cloud document storage certainly come to mind as much-needed resources. Co-promotions with required services or products is a good place to showcase your brand.

The new normal will require a prepared and informed population. Why not show them that you have their best interests at heart? Why not position your brand as a concerned and helpful member of their community? At least you can research and provide comprehensive shopping lists and checklists to help them prepare for these challenges. And yes, your logo should be prominent.

Remember, if you are already marketing your brand in a city that is hard hit, your customers will need help. What you do in these circumstances can build your brand. Don’t be conspicuous by your absence!