National Capital Chapter

What Consumers Think of Brands Right Now

By Cary Hatch, CEO of MDB Communications

This commentary originally appeared on the Capitol Communicator.

In a real-time survey conducted several days ago by the AAAA, 1,000 consumers were asked how they feel about brands during the pandemic.  You may be surprised at the results.

For example:

  • 43% said it’s reassuring to hear from brands they know and trust.
  • 56% said they are pleased to hear about brands taking actions like making donations of goods and services.

With every passing day, hour and minute, marketers are making some difficult decisions about business in our “new normal” of the COVID-19. Unlike people, brands cannot isolate themselves quite as easily. Brand leaders understand, and history has shown, strong brands recover faster and have grown more quickly than their competitors coming out of economic downturns.

Beyond the obvious need for brands to execute a business continuity plan that protects staff and customers, it’s important to embrace the notion that how well you “rise to the occasion” might very well determine how your brand bounces back and grows in the future.

It’s not a secret that customer outreach and messaging can be tricky. Key to remaining relevant, sensitive, useful and, therefore, welcomed by customers during this crisis, is aligning your efforts with your brand’s values, or you risk being perceived as inauthentic – or worse. During this time of need, identifying how you can be helpful to customers is critical. Putting aside your personal perspective and embracing how your customers feel will lead you to ideas that can provide comfort, a much-needed distraction, or assurances and stability.

Worth considering is how to be helpful by re-configuring your services to help first- responders and other frontline workers by enhancing your products to conform to your customers’ needs or modifying how you physically deliver your product; it all matters. Especially now.

The economy will bounce back and likely with strong demand for brands that people know, trust and admire. The question is: Will yours be one of them? Is your brand top of mind and admired – or did you diminish your marketing efforts and “go dark?” It’s up to all of us to do our part to champion through this crisis, smartly, empathetically – and come out stronger, and grow faster, on the other side.

About the Author

Cary Hatch is CEO of D.C.-based MDB Communications. With more than 30 years of experience in advertising and marketing, Hatch has established a formidable track record in business and consumer communications, both domestic and international. Her broad-based client experience includes National Geographic, Fannie Mae, Destination DC, International Spy Museum, Sprint and many others. She has been recognized on the POWER 100, the Washington Business Journal’s list of the most influential business leaders, for four consecutive years. She currently serves as the Chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Board of Governors for the American Association of Advertising Agencies and was recently appointed to the National Government Relations Committee by the 4A’s.

She is a noted lecturer at Johns Hopkins, Georgetown University, and the University of MD; and is a regular on TV and radio outlets commenting on branding, advertising and marketing communications.