In Crisis, Brandstand Instead of Grandstand

Since the pandemic hijacked our 2020, we’ve seen a slew of polarized comments from keyboard warriors attacking companies and brands that are aiming to stay relevant in this new normal.

When only months ago (was it only months ago?), you can effortlessly win hearts p foodstagrams, get a #lifegoal comment for a “look away” pose in Siargao, or groan at a “Sana all” ribbing for flexing your love life, now, what seems like safe, wholesome content, are unpredictably met with a “Sensitivity, please,” clapback from well-meaning citizens.

Businesses are having a hard time dealing with this market shift. In a tooth and nail scrimmage to not be forgotten, companies are thanking frontliners left and right, trying to create buzz whether it’s through publicity, a CSR overload, or if you’re especially daring, through a piggyback on the political climate to win some woke hearts. The risk, as many have learned, is to be branded the “opportunistic” card prematurely.

So, what changed?
Well, your audience did.

Faced with more important survival issues like food security, family detachment, and a slow slide into an unprecedented existential crisis, a small misstep from brands that seem like Goliaths to everyone else’s Davids can bring a normally enthusiastic, observing, or passive audience into an uproar. It doesn’t help that everyone has more time to spend nitpicking. Facebook recently reported a 40% spike on their app’s use.

As a company then, what do you do? Should you remain quiet until you fall into oblivion? Should you self-promote at the risk of being called opportunistic or without a clear direction? Should you use your voice to shed light on half-baked efforts and advocacies? What is the right path when, clearly, there isn’t a crisis management benchmark to follow before all this?

Well, since this crisis requires some form of innovation from all of us, we at Dual Story have also fashioned a word that sums up our answer to all these questions: Brandstand.

As opposed to grandstand which means to speak on something that you don’t or can’t really uphold, Brandstand, for us, means digging deep into the very core of what you are as a business and asking yourself these questions (and yes, this crisis is the right time to ask):

Do I Really Need to Say This Now?

Timeliness is, and has always been, key to messaging. While the urgency of the situation grabs hold of everyone, you must also ask if there are other more important issues internally that need to be prioritized. Issues like if you’ve created a support system for human capital, or whether you’ve navigated a stopgap mechanism to continue on with operations. All these come way before image building.

Is It Really My Stance, Or am I Just Jumping Into the Bandwagon?

Other than timeliness, you’ll also have to stop yourself from giving in to FOMO. It’s tempting to create campaigns, shotgun into a cause, or collaborate with an iffy partner for content. But ask yourself, is this purpose, cause, or belief true to my DNA? Does it support my “Why” even if my “How” has changed? Take time to fall in love with the new you, folks, before sharing it to the rest of the world world. And if a concept’s not true to you, then find an idea or initiative that is, even if it takes you a little while more to get there.

Is What I’m Saying Consistent With My Tone? Or Can I Justify the Shift of Tone if Necessary?

While it’s organic to shift your brand message during these times, the manner by which you say them (by that, we mean the tone and language of your brand) should still be consistent with how you’ve always talked pre-crisis. If you’ve always had a funny and irreverent tone, go with that, inserting your personality even when giving inspirational news. A consistent brand tone is comforting in these unstable times. If you have to change your voice, explain the transition clearly so your audience won’t give in to brand shock, but instead, engage, and shift with you.

Can I Sustain This Even After the Pandemic?

Even if we have a visible finish line to the crisis already, consumer behavior has already been altered indefinitely. How they interact with your brand will continue to shift for years to come. So, instead of thinking of one-hit wonders in terms of action frames and messaging, try to think of a sustainable, long-term intention for your brand and your customers. Instead of exit points, think of an impressive entrance to a new normal.


While everyone is scrambling to pivot and find their place in this pandemic-ridden society, Brandstanding lends itself to the idea that even as transformation is inevitable, one should do so with a firm stance to your company and brand purpose. This means that pre-crisis, you should already have had one to begin with. And will continue to stand on that intention long after we’ve seen what’s on the other side.

Have a question about branding? Send us a message at dualstoryph@gmail.com, and let’s start a story together.