branding messages
By Joanna Garner, Insight & Strategy Director


“Language should be a roadmap, telling you where you’ve come from and where you’re going.”

When well-known brands communicate, they don’t always have the effect they’re looking for.

There is increasing evidence that the communication of well-known brands during the pandemic lockdown has been less than effective, with many using the same phrases. International marketing journal, Ad Age, has produced a video documenting 19 advertising clichés used by global brands during lockdown. Messages stressing that we are “all in this together” “during uncertain times” and “we are with you” have dominated advertising and social media for brands such as mobile competitors, Apple and Samsung; beer brands, Budweiser and Heineken; and Canadian food service delivery platforms, Doordash and Uber, to name just a few.

Monitoring agency, Kantar’s global brand index for the period covering the lockdown has divided brands into two categories, those which consumers perceived are offering day-to-day help during the pandemic and those offering emotional support in their advertising and social media messages. Those in the former category had higher brand index scores. This included household names such as Heinz, which had the top brand index score of 98, Tesco, Aldi and quick service restaurant, McDonald’s. The emotional support category had lower brand index scores, with frozen fish brand, Birds Eye, having the highest brand index score of 43, slightly less than half of top scorer, Heinz, in the day-to-day help category.

Further evidence of consumer fatigue with brand messages has emerged in a YouGov survey. More than two in three consumers say that brands are all delivering similar messages. To explore this in greater detail, YouGov provided a set of pandemic phrases for the panel to score brand messages in the lockdown. “All in this together” topped the list, with 42 per cent stating it was over-used. Interestingly, this figure rose to 45% among the 18-25 age group and more insightfully, 43 per cent of UK consumers surveyed said that they thought brand messages were inauthentic. Half of those surveyed disagreed that brands were putting their employees and customers ahead of the company and its profits.

In their advertising and social media messages, brands have made assumptions about behaviour during the lockdown that research shows are not chiming with the consumers, and as we emerge from this crisis, consumers may have new priorities, such as helpfulness and authenticity when shopping in the future. This may be particularly so for the 18 to 24-year-old consumer, an important group for clothing, media and mobile technology businesses.  For small and medium sized businesses at this time, stressing the wrong messages or slipping into lockdown clichés could quickly turn customers away.  As the lockdown eases, it will be crucial for companies opening up to understand how their customers may have changed. Through cost effective, incisive customer surveys, Lime Insight helps small and medium sized companies understand how their customers are changing and to improve customer loyalty and personalisation.

For a no obligation discussion, call: Joanna Garner on 07590 881 772 or email:

Posted: 05/06/2020

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