Brands Thinking Outside the Box During COVID-19

May 15, 2020 - 12 minutes read

Inspiring examples of innovation in challenging times.



As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the globe, business owners have had to re-examine all of their processes and strategies.

In a recent conversation with Small Business Trends, entrepreneur Mark Cuban highlighted the importance of taking an active, innovative approach during the pandemic

“Service companies need to be innovative, he said. “You can’t just sit back. You need to be aggressive and proactive. 

“Five years from now were going to look back and point to 10 to 20 companies that were created during the pandemic of 2020. We get to do America 2.0. We get to go through a unique reset.”

To inspire your efforts during the coronavirus outbreak, we’ll look at six brands thinking outside the box by offering real value in a time when we need it most.


Burger King


Twenty-two million children in the US rely on free or reduced-price school lunches every day.

As the pandemic intensified in the US, and school closures were looming, Burger King took the initiative to offer two free kids’ meals with every online in-app food purchase for those struggling to feed their children in the coronavirus age.

The promotion ran from March 23 and ended on April 6, and it was redeemed by families across the nation—a forward-thinking strategy facilitated by the use of digital technology.

Takeaway: By revisiting your brand values and looking at your niche or industry in-depth, you will be able to focus on solving a specific problem through digital tools or technology to formulate a strategy that offers value to your audience. 

In this case, Burger King identified an alarming food shortage issue and reached out to families with an offer to provide their children with a hot meal while maintaining communication with its customers. 


MGM Resorts



In a time where getting access to food is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for the sick and vulnerable, swift and responsive measures are vital.

To fill the void caused by mass coronavirus closures, MGM Resorts is delivering 480,000 pounds of fresh food to various local food banks across eight states.

Rather than wasting the food, they utilized existing inventory and transportation systems to provide those in need with the equivalent of 40,000 meals!

Takeaway: Colossal challenges require colossal solutions. If you can, being bold and giving back to your local community will go an incredibly long way. Not only are forward-thinking initiatives like this the right thing to do, but if you show yourself to be charitable, transparent, and sustainable, you will increase brand loyalty in the coronavirus age.




One of the biggest challenges we face during the COVID-19 outbreak is social isolation.

In addition to being segregated from friends, colleagues, and loved ones, the coronavirus has forced many of us to change the way we work and live.

Professional social networking platform LinkedIn understood these potential challenges early on and made 16 of its most popular educational courses free in the coronavirus age.

These industry-recognized courses offer invaluable tips on how to remain healthy and productive while optimizing your networking potential during isolation. The social network is also replacing many of its on-site events with live video webinars and conferences. This is a value-driven strategy that helps enhance the lives of professionals across industries.

Takeaway: People need access to the kind of content that informs, educates, and inspires. If you focus on producing articles, blog posts, and video communications that will guide your audience through these difficult times, you will boost brand awareness while attracting new people to your business.

Our step-by-step guide to developing engaging content ideas will help you get those creative juices flowing.




During the COVID-19 outbreak, masses of children face falling behind on their education.

At this point, it’s impossible to say when schools will reopen their doors, so sourcing short-term solutions that aid children’s educational and personal wellbeing is crucial.

To play an active role in access to education, cutting-edge video recording and sharing platform Loom has made its Pro plan free to teachers and educators at K-12 institutions (half-price for regular users) during the outbreak while removing recording limits for all users.

Moreover, Loom has extended its free trial period from 14 days to 30 days for all new users.

Takeaway: By analyzing its business models and product offerings and making reasonable adjustments, Loom has put its brand values into practice by assisting educators. Also, the brand’s half price product offerings and extended trial periods will maintain some revenue during the outbreak while encouraging new customer acquisition.

Take the time to look at your products, services, and business model. Are there fairly small yet useful tweaks you can make? Perhaps you can offer free shipping and a discount code for frontline workers. Or, if you’re a health retailer, for instance, you could offer your customers a reduced-price COVID-19 wellbeing hamper or bundle. 

Small changes can go a long way, so think about what you can offer your audience and take action as soon as possible.


Shine Distillery


In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, keeping your hands clean and sanitized is essential. Unfortunately, mass demand—and panic—has resulted in a shortage of hand sanitizing products.

While Shine Distillery is not the only company of its kind using its facilities and experience to produce free hand sanitizing gels, this Portland-based business is certainly a pioneer. 

Most breweries or distilleries can’t use the initial batch of alcohol they produce for commercial consumption, but it is ideal for producing hand sanitizers. Following the distillery’s lightbulb moment, its employees set out making branded hand sanitizers immediately, giving them away to those that need them most.

This out-of-the-box initiative sparked a wave of production, with a number of US-based distilleries following suit.

Takeaway: Whether you are an early innovator in your niche or a business following the example of your competitors, teaming up with others in crisis will allow you to help your customers or local communities while extending your promotional reach to a wider target audience.

If you can team up with a competitor or a business relevant to your industry, you stand to help more customers or communities while supercharging your brand awareness.





As one of the world’s biggest social media platforms, Twitter has a huge reputation—and thus, a huge responsibility in the coronavirus age.

Twitter is an informational vessel, so the platform is thriving right now. However, office closures and additional logical challenges have forced those in charge of Twitter HQ to make swift, responsive changes to the company’s internal policy.

To help guide its staff during the outbreak, Twitter has offered to subsidize all home office supplies while giving all employees with children the chance to reclaim money for childcare costs while schools are closed.

Takeaway: Your staff members are equally as important as your customers. While you may not be able to stretch as far as subsidizing home office or childcare costs, it’s important that you offer your employees help, support, and clear guidance throughout the coronavirus age. Fail to do so, and you risk losing your most talented teammates. 


Honorable mentions and useful resources


While we’ve shone a brighter light on six businesses above, it’s worth noting that as COVID-19 rages on, more brands are thinking outside the box in the face of adversity.

Here is our quick-fire rundown of honorable mentions:

  • Forbes8: In the wake of various event and conference cancellations, Forbes8 hosted a free digital summit at the end of March, with materials based on business resilience in vital times.
  • Jamm: The audio-visual communication platform provider is offering its service for free during the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Christina Karin: The women-led clothing brand based in Chicago has shut its stores and is currently focusing on hand-sewing face masks for local hospitals that are in short supply.
  • Keen Footwear: This ethical clothing brand is making durable footwear for the many frontline workers in its locale.




“The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.”—Arthur C. Clarke


At present, making any solid long-term plans is no easy feat. The uncertainty of the virus means that, as business owners, we must live week to week, placing our customers and staff at the heart of every move we make.

There’s no clear-cut path to success in the coronavirus age, but by taking inspiration from the efforts and initiatives of these pioneering brands, following your instincts, and acting now, you will prevail in the end.

We wish you the best of luck, and if you’d like to know about our response during the coronavirus outbreak, please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.