Embracing the Un-Normal Series 4: How Indonesian Brands Communicate During Covid19

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Embracing the Un-Normal Series 4: How Indonesian Brands Communicate During Covid19

The global pandemic has affected how people think and behave in their daily lives - within a short period of time, a lot of things have changed. At Illuminate Asia, we wanted to understand how people are coping and adapting and also to help our clients & their brands make sense of it all...

Semiotics looks into how culture affects the way brands represent themselves.  By understanding the meaning of signs and symbols within the relevant cultural context, semiotics can increase brand's relevance. 

  • Semiotics offers an outside-in (cultural signs and symbols around us) approach as opposed to the typical qualitative methods which looks at things from an inside-out approach (consumers' perspectives)
  • We analyse the signs that consumers are exposed to, which in turn shapes consumers' understandings of the world around them
  • The key benefit of applying semiotics is that it is rooted in consumers' everyday experiences. Hence, it helps marketers create communication or branding strategies that are meaningful for the consumers.

There are 10 codes that emerged from our analysis of brand communications in Indonesia during Covid19:

  1. Social responsibility and charity - Showing the spirit of support to the community
  2. Helping the Cause - Brands showing their solidarity with the fight against Covid19
  3. Celebrating everyday heroes - Placing front-liners and essential workers on the centre stage for risking their lives in order to keep society going
  4. We're in this together - Collective spirit to rise above – a reminder that we are not alone; that together we can get through this
  5. Facilitating Connection with Others - Brands helping Indonesians engage in social interaction even when physically apart
  6. Creativity and Innovation at Home - A means of staying entertained and encouraging people to create and channel their talents.
  7. Kindness and Empathy - Reminding people to be selfless and aware of others’ well-being
  8. Making the most of the situation (‘Making do’) - Encouraging people to look at things in different perspectives, making the best of the situation and being resourceful
  9. Expressing Gratitude - Encouraging people to be grateful in the middle of the pandemic
  10. Hang-in there -  Providing ways of coping or surviving through daily challenges

Conclusion - we found an opportunity to tap into white space of Personal - Progression; where few brands sit currently. Brands can help people to progress in many aspects of their life, i.e. Health, wellness, education, work, etc.

We also suggest to consider using binary opposites:  Usually there is a dominant tone or idea when brands are communicating on the same codes.  By using binary opposites, brand can create a differentiating way to rise above the clutter,


This article is based on a webinar within the "Embracing the Un-Normal" series - presented on 11 June 2020.  Please download the webinar presentation here.. 

For more information, here is the link to the YouTube to watch the session and also to the podcast to listen:


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