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4 tips for COVID-19 communication that suits your brand.

Most brands spend a lot of time and energy developing a fitting tone-of-voice and visual identity. Suddenly, rules and guidelines that seem to conflict with the hospitality and service the brand wants to convey must be communicated. A space filled with warning tape and strict do’s and don’ts isn’t very inviting.

When the offices at Schiphol made plans to reopen and more flights were departing from the airport, I was asked to join the Schiphol team to develop a communication style around the new rules that was in line with the Schiphol brand. On the basis of this project, I compiled 4 tips for anyone who also wants to communicate about the COVID-19 rules while staying true to his or her brand.

 

1. Clear language and unambiguous

We use clear language. If you need to understand something quickly, we only use one message. Simple icons reinforce that message. We do not use tape on the floor, but circles that indicate where to walk and stand, which are more unambiguous.

Brand building
Communication style

May 2020

Reminding of what is possible is more pleasant than telling what is not allowed.

sch_covid_cover_mob

4 tips for COVID-19 communication that suits your brand.

Most brands spend a lot of time and energy developing a fitting tone-of-voice and visual identity. Suddenly, rules and guidelines that seem to conflict with the hospitality and service the brand wants to convey must be communicated. A space filled with warning tape and strict do’s and don’ts isn’t very inviting.

When the offices at Schiphol made plans to reopen and more flights were departing from the airport, I was asked to join the Schiphol team to develop a communication style around the new rules that was in line with the Schiphol brand. On the basis of this project, I compiled 4 tips for anyone who also wants to communicate about the COVID-19 rules while staying true to his or her brand.

Brand building
Communication style

May 2020

Reminding of what is possible is more pleasant than telling what is not allowed.

1. Clear language and unambiguous

We use clear language. If you need to understand something quickly, we only use one message. Simple icons reinforce that message. We do not use tape on the floor, but circles that indicate where to walk and stand, which are more unambiguous.

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2. A positive approach

We appeal to people in a positive way, because most people are very willing to cooperate. We say thanks for desired behavior. We count on people unconsciously wanting to deserve that ‘thank you’. We remind them of what is possible. That is more pleasant than telling what is not allowed. We are therefore also hesitant to use the imperative and negative formulations, such as ‘not’.

Every now and then we use a little bit of humor. We remind people to keep their distance with stickers on which we convert 1.5 meters into the number of stroopwafels or tulips that fit in it. Real Schiphol language.

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3. A recognizable appearance

We developed a clear communication style around the COVID-19 measures. This style is in line with the Schiphol brand style, but we use its building blocks slightly differently to emphasize the urgency of these messages. There is room for messages that are reassuring and feel good, messages in which we share more extensive information about the rules and messages in which we steer functional behavior, such as walking routes and keeping distance.

The coherence in tone-of-voice and design makes it clear to everyone when we are talking about the COVID-19 regulations. This way the messages reinforce each other.

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4. An efficient process

We obviously had little time and Schiphol is a complex company. That is why we set up an agile and efficient process to realize everything. After an inventory of the needs and wishes within Schiphol, we developed the concept. Decisions were made quickly thanks to an online kick-off, kitchen review and presentations with all important stakeholders present. After creating a few extensive template files for print and screens and a copy platform, we could get started.

With a compact team, we made all the resources that the various departments needed in a very short time. Twice a day we had team meetings via Skype for Business, we exchanged files and reviews on Slack and all deadlines and tasks were tracked in an online Excel overview. All files were stored in a database on OneDrive. A web shop has been set up where all Schiphol departments, shops and companies can now order the resources that have been developed.

User research in the terminal showed that travelers find the communication clear and positive. A limited number of adjustments were made after this research.

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Team

Schiphol: Sander Hengeveld, brand manager,
Anne-Lotte Paymans, copy,
Robin Straatman,traffic,
Wout Jongejans, dtp,
Hans van den Berge, dtp

Marieke Griffioen, concept and art direction

Icons
Sjoerd Verbeek

Webshop
PPP

Photos Terminal
Roel van Koppenhagen for Schiphol

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