Brands Practice Self-Distancing

A number of brands—many of which are involved in licensing in some way—have gotten creative with their logos as a means of stressing the critical importance of self-distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19. These tweaks simultaneously engage the brands’ fans and boost awareness during a difficult time for most businesses.

Examples include:

  • Mercado Libre. This e-commerce site, which does business across Latin America, temporarily changed its logo from a handshake to an elbow bump. A small version of its regular logo appears at the top of each page on the site, with a larger version of the new design appearing throughout the various product pages.
  • McDonald’s in Brazil. The company separated its two golden arches across all of its digital media platforms to remind consumers of the need for social distancing. (This example ended up being taken down after a global backlash against the company for not giving its employees paid sick leave.)
  • Coca-Cola. It transformed its normally script-style identity on its billboard in Times Square by setting the letters apart and adding the phrase “staying apart is the best way to stay united.”
  • Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox. The team separated its logo’s two overlapping socks in its profile picture on Instagram, one of a number of corporations tweaking their look under the hashtag #newsociallydistantprofilepic.
  • Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami. The club moved the two white herons in its logo, whose legs are typically intertwined, away from each other. The reimagined take has been utilized across the club’s digital presence.
  • Time Out London. The magazine changed its name temporarily to Time In, with the word “Out” crossed out and the “In” written over it in red. The publication covers bars, restaurants, live theater, movies, and events across the city, most of which are on hiatus due to the virus.

There is no licensing involved in any of these ventures (although there are plentiful examples of coronavirus- and self-distancing-themed products available on the on-demand marketplaces). This is simply a temporary and eye-catching shorthand to remind consumers of important information, while accruing some secondary marketing benefits, even as these businesses and their employees struggle to overcome the more fundamental challenges associated with the crisis.

We all certainly hope no situation like this one occurs again in the future. But on a broader level these examples illustrate how it is possible for marketers to respond, with creativity and authenticity, to global news, events, and trends of all types—both positive and negative—in a tasteful, effective, and on-brand way. The McDonald’s example, conversely, serves as a warning of the scrutiny all brand owners face when responding to a crisis such as this.

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