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Brands Race to Safety for the New Normal

Responding with branding during COVID times

Society is beginning to release itself from the restraints of COVID 19 isolation, moving towards the ‘new normal.’  People are cautiously going back to their places of work, eating out, shopping, and enjoying entertainment outside the home. They are also weighing up the risks of travel and lodging.

Getting ready for this new normal requires a promise of safety, cleanliness, and smart interactions for employees and customers. Consequently, we’re seeing a stream of branding programs to this effect, with companies creating names, logos, slogans, messaging, methodologies and marketing for these initiatives.

Some of these programs focus on re-opening the doors, but there is a clear opportunity to move fast while building enduring advantage by fostering confidence in the ongoing safety of places where people interact – at work and at play. There is a growing trend in branding with an eye towards longer-term societal realities of a clean and contactless world. And the field is open for leaders in safety to emerge.

Nowhere is this trend more evident than in the hospitality sector, which has been brought to a standstill by COVID. The perceived risks of travel and lodging, whether for business or for pleasure, continue to be a significant challenge.

Hilton, for one, is looking to a new campaign to help them tell their story: ‘CleanStay: Defining a New Standard of Cleanliness’.

The Lysol protection endorsement leverages a powerful brand in cleanliness while addressing the need to disinfect rooms and common areas. Other messaging supports additional new normal concerns like maintaining social distance and keeping things contactless throughout the facility.

Marriott also is exercising its Commitment to Clean by establishing a council to oversee these efforts going forward.

Radisson is speaking to protocols for safety rather than just maintaining cleanliness. With this as a focus, it’s partnering with SGS, a leading global company in safety inspection, verification, testing, and certification.

In the airline industry, United is stepping forward with United CleanPlus, a commitment to industry-leading cleanliness, in partnership with Clorox.

As we see with Aramark, a global leader in food, facilities management, and uniforms, the need to brand for confidence in safety of spaces and interactions extends beyond travel and lodging. The company has just unveiled Aramark EVERSAFE, a platform that supports safe reopening and sustainable management of client locations around the world. This impacts a wide range of venues in the new normal, including workplaces, schools, hospitals, stadiums, and other locales.

Opening into the new normal, at its essence, is a life-and-death issue. Some of the companies have established healthcare partnerships to facilitate the expertise and science behind these protocols: Hilton is partnering with the Mayo Clinic, United is working with Cleveland Clinic, and Aramark has joined forces with Jefferson Health.

Brands like these hold out the promise of safety, presenting essential, substantiated initiatives in response to grave concerns. Doubtless, many more companies will announce their own initiatives and commitments in the coming weeks. Before jumping into the fray, they should take extraordinary care to ensure they can deliver on their promises, as the public will quickly sniff out fakes and expose unsubstantiated PR soundbites. In doing so, they will be better prepared for the new normal and beyond.