COVID-19 has changed the face of businesses everywhere, forcing them to get creative and turn classic industries on their heads in order to support themselves. Months into the pandemic, industries like food, retail, and hospitality have gone through the many pains needed to navigate the phases of reopening. But as we enter a post-first-wave world, industries have shifted the mode of thought from how to sustain their business, to growing their business through new opportunities brought to life by our new normal.
Due to COVID-19 and recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), masks have become a necessity for the entire population. In fact, according to a July 8 Pew Research poll, the majority of Americans (70%) support wearing masks in public. Once only used by healthcare professionals, masks can now be seen on virtually everyone at the grocery store, in shops and restaurants, and even on college campuses.
Masks used for brand identity
Only six months after the COVID-19 virus began to spread in the United States, branded masks have already become a widespread trend. Savvy companies have learned that masks are an important element of brand identity, especially for front-line employees in service jobs. Instead of seeing a surgical mask on the barista serving your coffee, a mask bearing the logo or signature colors of a brand can evoke a feeling of trust and belonging.
Masks as team spirit
Masks are also a way that consumers can advocate for their favorite brand or organization. Worn on the face, masks cover part of your identity and replace it with a new one. To wear a brand directly on your face is to signal that you are a bold believer and a brand advocate, so wear branded masks with caution. You might really enjoy your Nike sneakers but are you willing to wear the signature swoosh on your face? Football fans are one group of consumers who seem willing to wear their team logos with pride.
Some fashion-forward consumers are also willing to make a statement, purchasing high-end designer masks for as much as $200 to $300. However, the average consumer is much more likely to choose a $5 mask to support their favorite cause.
Masks are the new ribbon
Nonprofit organizations are using cause-related masks as an inexpensive way to raise money, as well as spread awareness for their cause. According to a recent study by Porter-Novelli, 68% of respondents said they wanted brands to donate to programs that provide direct support for medical workers and 70% think the coronavirus pandemic will force companies to act more responsibly in the long-term.
Like a ribbon or bracelet, masks are a prominent accessory and offer a new way for people to proudly express their personality, causes, and beliefs. A mask can communicate to the world which social justice issues you believe in, your personal political beliefs, and the charities you support. Cause-related masks are a more personal connection to someone’s values and are more likely to be worn directly on the face than a casual brand association. And the timing is right for cause-related masks. Our current need to wear masks during COVID-19 is converging with another need for racial justice and to communicate support for social change.
Sending a message through masks
Organizations producing branded masks should consider including more than just a logo and instead include an image or message that communicates your brand purpose, such as the Stand Up for Organic bandanna face covering by Patagonia. Whatever your brand-mask-message, be careful not to appear to trivialize the pandemic – be authentic and be true to your brand but never forget how we got here and the important, original necessity of the mask to protect ourselves and our fellow man.
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