Our Future of Branding roundtable series convenes marketing and innovation leaders across industries to explore how the biggest challenges and emerging trends of today will impact brands tomorrow. Since we could not break bread in person, our program went virtual—the first in the series of conversations on brand leadership in the COVID-19 era.

I welcomed five marketing leaders from brands who are distinguishing themselves in their response to the crisis. The panel explored how the current pandemic has influenced their leadership styles, the resilience of the human spirit and what positive takeaways we can incorporate in the future.

In closing, I posed the question, how do you want your brand to reemerge post-pandemic, and what commitment are you going to make to get there? Here’s what our panelists had to say.

We have a rapidly changing economic situation, and I think that will contribute to a change in a cultural context. There is an opportunity for brands to build a reputation with consumers. Companies may want to be more human and express more of the values that are all important to all of us, versus growth or being the best.

I’d like to see our brand emerge stronger, more connected and more human. A commitment that I am going to make to have that happen is to make sure that our purpose doesn’t get sacrificed in the budget challenge that we will all face over the next 18 months. It’s going to be easy to focus on ROI driven things, but purpose is what will be more memorable over this period than having a high efficiency of ROI.

—Norm de Greve, Chief Marketing Officer, CVS Health

How we are marketing our brands through this crisis and the messaging we’re putting out is right in line with our principles. The next phase will be observing how our brands show up candidly over the next few months. It is crucial that we’re developing the right messaging to the right people in the right way. My commitment is to ensure we manage those next phases, make sure we’ve got the right messaging and the right programs in place.

—Ed Pilkington, Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer, Diageo 

We have the opportunity to be better understood, and to emerge as a trusted advisor to our customers, our partners and our team members. Our brand has historically been viewed as an innovative brand, but I think we will be seen as decisive. Part of what I’m doing to help our brand achieve that is to have a clarity of message and a construct around communications.

We speak to every audience in a framework that’s about assessing what we know when we know it—then addressing anything that is within our control—and then adapting so that we can meet the needs that are evolving daily.

From a personal standpoint, one thing that has struck me is that I’ve rediscovered the trusted advisors around me—my peers, partners and experts. As a community, there is a lot of good that we can bring to everyone in teaching and learning. Let this be a moment that strengthens us as practitioners.

—Jennifer Temple, Chief Communications Officer, HPE 

During this crisis, we’ve said as an executive team, “How we act now impacts what we get to say later.” If we’re a company that believes we are people helping people, we have to walk that walk with our employees. Some of them are at home, anxious to get back to work. But the majority of our associates are running extremely hard. The number one priority as a service brand, where the people bring the brand to life, is going to be continuing to bolster our people and to work on communication and engagement with them.

We’ve always said we have a heart of a challenger based on where we came from and being a little bit scrappy. Now that we’re 50 years old, we have the experience of an expert. Striking that balance as a brand is what I think we’ll be doing more of.

—Sherry Sanger, EVP, Marketing & Chief Marketing Officer, Penske Transportation Solutions

When we come out of this, I would like our brand to be customer and consumer-centric, and human. This is going to be a different approach for our type of industry to incorporate human emotional elements. My commitment is simple. No matter the circumstances around us, I will stay relentlessly curious, and that’s just marketer in me.

It is a phenomenal opportunity for us to show what any company, all the companies on the panel, are capable of. We will emerge from this entirely different—but why not for the better?

—Huub Devroye, Global Director of Marketing, Dow

This is a biweekly series for brand-side senior marketers. To request an invitation to join us a guest, visit events.siegelgale.com


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