How is your consumer feeling?

April 1, 2020
Executive Vice President of Brand Strategy

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Feelings. They are the core of any brand connection. Feelings are meaningful. And feelings create meaningful brands. After all, consumers are connected to humans, companies and ideals that they care about – that they feel strongly about.

These customer experiences are ultimately defined by the feelings audiences have for a brand and in this brand paradigm, no feeling is more important than trust.

It is without question that we are living in unprecedented times. We are all witnessing the COVID-19 pandemic disrupt everyday life and the impact on our health, businesses, education, schedules, commerce and communications.

In this uncertain time, Chernoff Newman created a landing page designed to help businesses navigate the murky waters of COVID-19 crisis communications:

Given the current environment and communications challenges placed on brands with continuing questions ahead, many companies are seeking to provide an informative voice in the conversation. We hope the following tactics can provide  assistance in making a strategic choice to establish meaningful connections with consumers by providing smart, relevant content that educates and inspires audiences.

During this health crisis, the consumer expectations of brands are very high. Consumers want to hear from brands and that means that brands are being given permission to lead. Consumers want to hear about a brand’s sense of purpose. And they want to know what the brand is actually doing for the world. If the audience already has an awareness of the brand, then they know how well products are made or services are provided.  Now, more than ever, consumers want to know more about their mission, purpose and the tangible impact they’re having in the world. Consumers want to know how the brands they connect with are actually helping. The audience wants to understand the social contribution that goes along with a brand’s financial success.

So, give them a reason to believe in the brand and to believe in the social mission – give them a reason to connect and the confidence to trust.

When responding to COVID-19, the World Health Organization’s website is a valuable resource. If a brand has important information that directly affects the company, employees, customers, suppliers, vendors, and so on, it may be wise to share that information publicly. Providing open and honest information to the brand’s community activates the trust everyone is looking for.

A brand should ask itself:

“Which of our brand attributes does our consumer base cherish the most?”

“Can our brand bring all consumer segments together in a meaningful and responsible way?”

“How can our brand’s key differentiation be relevant in this time of uncertainty?”

“Does our brand have uplifting and inspiring stories that can be shared?”

“Does our brand have the ability to encourage people during this difficult time?”

If a brand can answer these five questions and they feel it is appropriate to communicate to audiences, then we would offer the following advice:

Be Knowledgeable. Stay current on the latest news and developments with the pandemic, globally and locally.

Be Honest. Tell the truth. Period. Respect the connection your audience has with your brand and appreciate the trust that has been extended.

Be Empathetic. The appropriate tone of voice, in all communications, will strengthen brand connections.

Be Flexible. Being able to respond to the audience in a variety of communications channels is essential. Anticipate shifts in channel preferences as remote environments continue to grow.

So, in this surreal and ever-changing time that we are all living, know there is one thing that hasn’t changed. It’s the basic definition of branding: that gut feeling a person gets when they think about an organization. And if you don’t find yourself trusting your gut with your business right now, well, then we welcome the chance to help you better define who you are, what you do and why you matter to the world. You can reach me at

Chernoff Newman has deep category experience in agriculture, food and beverage, education and workforce development, energy, economic development, financial/insurance, healthcare and infrastructure. We design integrated marketing and strategic communications that are impactful, thought-provoking and influential. We marry ingenuity with business know-how to influence beliefs and behaviors for brands, companies and their many stakeholders. We influence attitude and inclination. We influence opinion and outcomes. And when needed, we also influence to quell contention.