Graphic: PeteLinforth/Pixabay

The existential fear created by the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown has generated a retreat to trusted brands according to Survata research quoted by Search Engine Land.

This isn’t surprising. Most of us react to a threat we can’t challenge by retreating to people, places and things we trust most in a world full of huge uncertainty.

Things we know are of reliable quality, will help us survive and provide us with the emotional reassurance many have craved during the pandemic by reminding us of more secure, happier times past.

Which is great if your brand is a well-established lovemark which can benefit from this. But what if you’re not there yet?


The good news is there’s hope for smaller, challenger brands which have lost customers. Edelman’s 2020 Global Brand Trust Report shows brands which have responded in a compassionate or innovative way to customers and staff during Covid-19 instead of defaulting to a purely legal-contractual relationship are being rewarded with new customers – Edelman found more than a third of those surveyed have started using a new brand as a result.

As lockdown eases, most people will still be in a defensive vigilant state after months of being told to stay at home and keep away from people outside – watching for fellow shoppers not keeping their distance, only cautiously starting to resume old activities impossible under lockdown. A recent Survation survey quoted in Daily Business showed 66% not comfortable with going back to bars and restaurants and 67% not comfortable with using public transport or holidaying abroad. Not the kind of open mindset you need them to be in to consider buying from a new brand.


The way to overcome their fears will be by first winning their trust.

Here are a few of the things you can do:

  1. Focus on understanding and solving your audiences’ problems – Edelman found 84% of respondents said they want brand advertising to focus on how brands help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges. 54% said they’re not paying attention to new products unless they’re designed to help with their Covid-related life challenges. With lockdown easing will come new problems you can and should be solving.
  2. Show, Don’t Tell – don’t just say your premises and new processes are Covid-secure, show people with pictures – photos, point-of-view video tours with members of staff explaining each feature etc, as in the Tesco TV ads at the start of lockdown. Put yourself in the mind of a sceptical grandparent checking out a grandchild’s new love interest. What would they want to see to be convinced it was safe to come to your premises?
  3. Get your client testimonials/reviews in front of them regularly – social proof is a great way of convincing someone to try something new to them – by showing them someone like them likes it. That’s why I do #TestimonialTuesday.
  4. Talk about what you’ve been doing to support people during lockdown – Edelman found 56% of people in the UK expect Business to provide economic relief and support, while 90% want to understand how organizations are supporting employees, customers and suppliers. Research by LinkedIn showed giving money is less favoured than helping practically. If you’re doing good work, you’ll get their approval, trust and business.
  5. Identify and talk about your company’s Purpose – if you aren’t already doing so. Yes, it may seem like ‘all the rage’ right now, but it used to be called your Mission Statement, so it’s not that new. If your goals and vision are ones people will back, they’re worth talking about.
  6. Show how you walk that talk – how are you making the world a better place by how you operate in order to fulfill your Why? How do you treat your staff? Show how your  leaders are leading by example. What are you doing to help your communities? How do you treat your suppliers? Edelman found little belief these were being done well. To win trust, show potential customers you’re the exception, as my client Scaramanga does with its videos.
  7. Make it clear your company will put employee and customer safety ahead of resuming pre-crisis levels of activity. Earlier Edelman research found 71% of people said if they think a brand is putting profit over people, they’ll lose trust in that brand forever.
  8. Tell all of these stories on your Owned (website, social, email etc), Paid (advertising etc), Earned (PR), and Shared (business org social, email) channels.
  9. Get the tone right – As AMV BBDO said, “Don’t be self-serving; don’t be cynical; and don’t talk like an organisation.” Be human and talk 1-1 as if your reader is next to you.

Earning trust will reap greater rewards than usual until fear returns to normal levels for each person – as trusted brands will continue to benefit.

But be aware – trust can be lost quickly – Edelman found 76% of double-digit gains in trust were followed by a trust loss 12 months on. So you have to keep walking the talk to show it’s not just a one-off PR/CSR activity cynically devised to gain their trust.

Need a hand? Drop me an email to arrange a chat!

For other things you should be doing, see also my earlier blogs: