The COVID-19 outbreak is a fast-changing crisis. Consumers are looking to the companies they trust for information, reassurance, and effective, relevant communication. Your brand purpose, and your customers’ experiences with your brand; at retail, on your E-commerce site, or on the phone - matter now, more than ever, and so does the language you use. In an effort to help you navigate the weeks ahead, we have gathered a range of insights into effective language and communication practices, to help you connect with customers, and stay connected. As a brand or retailer, now is not the time to isolate. Below are six communication principles to help guide your communication efforts. 1. This is a time to use empathy-based and customer-centric language. Conveying empathy is vital at this time. The word “You” activates customer-centric communication and is a top performing word because it anchors the message in the customer’s perspective. Examples include “You’re our #1 priority,” “What you should know.” 2. Language around the emotions of Gratitude and Safety will be critical during this time. Trust-centric emotional language is important during this time, especially language that conveys Gratitude, Safety and Empathy. Examples include “Thank you for your patience” (Gratitude) and “We’re still here for you” (Safety), "Please let us know how we are doing" ( listening). 3. Consider how your brand communicates important updates, with care. Review how you deliver and word information-based communication. How they are written is key so they aren’t perceived as alarming or insensitive. Be cautious about using the words “Don’t," or "Unavailable." Both are consistent negative performers. 4. Positive language must have the right tonality and expression. Overly optimistic, exclamatory or unnecessarily positive language may be perceived as alarming or tone-deaf. Avoid phrases like “This is unexpected,” “It’s your lucky day” or "You've Won! 5. Review your brand communications for tactical practices that make a difference. Avoid superlatives, hyperbolic language and capitalisation unless it’s essential. Assess any location-based dynamic variables and language for appropriate use, and avoid visually alarming formatting, including pointless emojis. Be true to your customer value proposition, and if you don't have one, start listening and find out. 6. Review your tactical messaging. Be necessary. Adapt to the situation, don't hide. Focus on community building efforts, and address consumer's changing needs, environment and concerns. Listen to what your customers are saying. Respond.