All 2020 bets are off, all hard sell is paused, earlier projections are no good and all messaging requires a re-think. That covers quite a lot, actually, from brand purpose to social media posts.  

In a year that began with clichéd quips about perfect vision. We’ve all been blindsided by the reality of a pandemic. As we move through the phases of shock, fear, understanding, action, and reasonable behavior. But without a timeline for a road map—marketers are adjusting as best they can. And they must. 

Head-Spinning Sea Changes   

March 2020 saw a paradigm shift that caught most of us off guard. Before the thing that hit us even had a name, invisible germs were upending large and small businesses. 

In the rush to move from office to home and to set up remote internal and external communications. It was easy to overlook existing campaigns, content, email and website messaging. As a travel, commerce and social events came to a screeching halt. Many businesses still had plans in place that reflected an upbeat spring mood, coming off record-breaking 2019 results. 

Clearly, a sea change in communications was called for without delay. Nevertheless, we’re still seeing emails with subject lines like “Spring is in the Air” to sell party dresses and “Book Your Next Vacay to Paradise…” from a cruise line!

Brands Need to Be Meaningful 

Trust and authenticity play a significant role in brands. Especially while customers deal with the fear and disruption in their lives due to the COVID-19 crisis. People are paying attention to how companies are treating their employees, what provisions they’re providing to help seniors, what assistance they’re offering loyal customers and how they’re giving back to the community. 

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report on Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic¹ indicates that consumers believe brands play an important role during these difficult times. “The power and necessity of brands as well as their urgent need to act,” said CEO Roger Edelman. “Brands that act in the interest of their employees, stakeholders and society at large will reinforce their expertise, leadership and trust and immeasurably strengthen the bond they have with consumers.”

Key insights:

  • Brands should ensure their coronavirus-related messaging is factual and compassionate.
  • Survey participants have already scrutinized brand reactions to the COVID-19 outbreak.²

The survey highlights the almost unanimous worldwide belief that brands have a critical role at this critical time. In commenting on the survey results, Adweek writes, “U.S. consumers believe brands should provide meaningful solutions, not just sell things.”


Photo by Macau Photo Agency

What Customers Want Now

The golden rules for keeping consumer attention in 2020 could not be more clear: Relevance, emotion, purpose. Yet, 27% of these survey participants in the U.S. indicated certain brands had acted in poor judgement during the initial weeks of the Coronavirus pandemic impact.  

What’s at stake? The future of a brand that gets it wrong is threatened because consumer trust is connected to a willingness to purchase from brands that are deemed trustworthy.  

According to Adweek, Sixty-nine percent of U.S. respondents said that, in the future, they will absolutely not choose brands they see placing profits before people during the pandemic. Stakes are high and according to the survey’s results, the trust will be lost forever if brands do not handle COVID-19 appropriately.

Looking After the Health of Your Brand

Spritz SF is your brand doctor. Let us know how we can help you look after the health of your brand before the opportunity passes by. We conduct brand audits to make a quick and accurate diagnosis, we develop brand messaging guides that hit the right tone of voice, and we create content for any and all channels, including social media, to amplify that voice while engaging customers in trust-building dialogue.


¹ Edelman special report, March 30, 2020

² Adweek, “US Consumers Are Keeping a Close Eye on How Brands Handle the Coronavirus Crisis”