The term “social distancing” may have only been introduced to our vocabulary a few weeks ago, but as measures are ramped up to keep Covid-19 from spreading it’s pretty much all anyone is talking about – and that includes global megabrands.
McDonalds, Coca-Cola and VW have all temporarily tweaked their logos to bring awareness to social distancing and encourage people to maintain a safe distance from those not in their immediate family.
The directive, which has been given by governments around the world, is an effort to slow down the rate at which Covid-19 spreads and ease the burden on healthcare services.
Last week, McDonald’s in Brazil posted a picture of their iconic golden arches pulled apart, alongside the statement, “separated for a moment so that we can always be together” in Portuguese.
Beverage giant Coca-Cola chose what is normally one of the most crowded places on Earth to send their social distancing message.
Earlier this month the beverage maker began running an ad on its Times Square billboard that features its brand name—normally written in tightly connected Spencerian script—with space between each letter.
Underneath was the message, “Staying apart is the best way to stay connected.”
Two automotive companies that share ownership, Audi and Volkswagen, also tweaked their logos for their social media accounts.
Audi separated its four rings in a short video telling people to stay at home and keep their distance.
Volkswagen also promoted a similar video with inspirational messages and separated the V and W.
Nike didn't tweak its logo, but it launched a large social media campaign with its global roster of star athletes including NBA player LeBron James and golfer Tiger Woods.
The campaign encourages people to “play inside” and “play for the world”. The sports apparel retailer was forced to close several of its global stores because of the virus.
But the messages and logos created to promote social distancing have pros and cons, according to two experts in the design field.
“Our current global situation is no joke. It’s a serious matter,” Douglas Sellers, executive creative director for brand strategy firm Siegel+Gale told CNN Business.
“And brands designing social distancing logos have the potential to diminish the severity of what we’re going through. The creativity, passion, and thought that goes into wanting to help, educate, and be part of the physical distancing movement is a worthy note,” Sellers said.
Brian Braiker, the editor-in-chief of Ad Age, says it’s time for brands to provide a “real, meaningful service,” referencing companies such as clothing retailers Zara and Gap that are making masks for healthcare workers or LVMH, the parent company of Christian Dior and Givenchy, manufacturing hand sanitiser.
“Understanding the situation, shutting up and doing something helpful is really the only way to go here. When you see brands such as McDonald’s or Coca-Cola spacing out their logos in ‘solidarity’, it strikes a sour note.”