What we learnt about brand values in the midst of a global pandemic

A lot of people will have found the past few months an opportunity for introspection. A period where life on pause has meant more time to recalibrate and reprioritise.

If you work in marketing you won’t have been able to avoid directing this internal analysis at your brand too. When life goes off track we revert back to our personal values to see us through, and it is the same with businesses. When the unexpected happens, true values come into play.

And one thing’s for sure, if you can’t see them, you can’t be them.

A meaningful value proposition can withstand the rollercoaster ride of change, even one as significant as global pandemic and national lockdown. But it has to be actionable, relatable and ingrained in company culture.

Just like everyone else, our plans for the year were turned on their head sometime in March. 

The events, the partnerships, the PR, the social media campaigns. Suddenly all the tactics, channels and objectives changed.

What remained was the strength of our brand, and what it meant to our colleagues, occupiers, suppliers and clients.

So that was the first thing we did. 

We went back to basics, reminded ourselves of our brand values, the cultural differentiators, mission and beliefs that make MAPP unique, and we explored ways we could apply them to a world we hadn’t been expecting.

This is what we learnt.


1. Brand purpose goes beyond the day-to-day.

As a property management company, buildings are pretty important to us. Our lives, quite literally, revolve around them. They are hubs of activity, energy and progress.

It is our mission to turn these buildings into spaces where people and businesses can thrive.

One day, all of a sudden, the buildings we manage were almost empty. 

Across every part of the business, building managers and their teams moved into action; providing bespoke information packs, and sharing positive and helpful content for occupiers to get through the challenges of working from home. Nigel, our CEO, sent out a weekly update that openly and honestly explained what was going on at MAPP and how we were adapting to the changes. We hosted these updates on our website, it was important to stay visible and transparent.

We created video content for social media, reached out across the business and leveraged our social channels to tell the stories that were happening in office buildings, retail parks and science parks. 

We kept on finding ways to thrive.

All of this reinforced our brand purpose. And it proved that purpose isn’t just about the things we do on a daily basis, it is the reason we get up in the morning.


2. You have to know what you’re talking about

When things go off course, the best people to have in your corner are people with specialist knowledge and expertise. People who can assess a situation and apply their experience to give advice and support.

One of our core beliefs is that generalists are good, but specialists are better.

When all our comms plans were turned on their head we looked to the specialists in our business to reinforce the brand as we pivoted our messaging across marketing channels.

We had more conversations than ever, with people across the entire business. We learnt about their experiences, their resilience and achievements, we shared their stories on our website and social channels, and we celebrated their wins internally.

We elevated the insight and expertise of our teams, and in turn were able to bring our core beliefs to life.


3. Keep one eye on the future.

We have never been afraid of looking forward and reading the road ahead.

Our role as property management specialists is to create the future, to be proactive rather than reactive. To drive change, constantly seek ways to improve our service and the entire industry.

Over the past few months this has been more challenging. With so much going on in the present, the future felt very far away. 

But uncertainty can create opportunity. 

As a business we are looking at ways to adapt our services, to keep evolving and improving our V2.0 proposition, building on the relationships that we have with occupiers so that we can help them anticipate and prepare for the things they will need in the coming months and years.

More flexible ways of working; collaborative office spaces; well-being and fitness activities that bring people together; and experiences that make coming to work about more than the time you spend at your desk. 

In the future, anything is possible.


4. The MAPP family is even bigger than we thought.

The past few months have brought us closer; to our colleagues as we share WFH horror stories, to our clients and occupiers as we listen and learn, and to our partners as we navigate the changing world together.

Resurgo is a long standing charitable partner of MAPP, a charity committed to bringing people together to transform communities and societies. In a matter of weeks they were forced to dismantle their projects, furlough their team and change direction. 

What they achieved was incredible. And it was a privilege to support them. 

Creating an impact and delivering social value comes from working collaboratively: consistently throughout the year and particularly in times of crisis. We really are all in it together.


How did we apply all of this to MAPP’s brand communications during Covid?

— We created content that would enable people to thrive, wherever they were working from.

— We showcased our experts from different parts of the business, and elevated the reputation of our specialists

— We were open and transparent, keeping communications simple and clear. 

— We handed our platform over to charitable partners, and supported them to share their stories and experiences as a result of Covid-19.

— We stayed positive, pragmatic and kept our plans agile enough to pivot messaging as required.


The most important thing?

The most important thing we learnt was to stay present, not to disappear, that our brand voice matters: to our colleagues, our clients and our occupiers. 

We learnt that when the chips are down it is our shared beliefs that carry us through. 

And we learnt that a meaningful brand proposition should be at the heart of a business. 

Values do not exist for marketing purposes. They are the base camp and north star for everything we do.