Top CMOs are a fast-acting and strategic bunch capable of responding to urgent challenges and, at the same time keeping long-term brand building in mind. Siegel+Gale’s Future of Branding roundtable series convenes marketing and innovation leaders across industries and around the globe to explore how the biggest challenges and emerging trends of today will impact brands tomorrow.

On May 7, I welcomed five marketing leaders from brands who are distinguishing themselves in their response to the current crisis. The panel explored how the pandemic has influenced their leadership styles and branding programs, the importance of agility among marketers and the idea of serving not selling to customers.

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 are continuing on our pathway and continuing to reinforce the support of not just being a retailer but being a full health and wellness company for pets and parents. As a leader, we’re going to have to work through what the cultural implications are. Not only in terms of what customer expectations are between the physical and the virtual retail and service experience, but also our employees, and how we think about what reemergence looks like from a work perspective.

The ability to be physical isn’t just about need. It’s a cultural impact for us. On any given day, we have four hundred dogs and cats in our buildings, and it changes the culture to not physically be in that environment. We have to consider what that looks like. Helping partners feel safe and confident without losing our culture will be a critical component.

—Tariq Hassan, Chief Marketing Officer, Petco

 

At Uber and Uber Eats, we don’t see ourselves as re-emerging post-pandemic; we are very much here. We think of ourselves as a community, and right now, we are focused on the human connections that are a large part of our platform. We are currently seeing how powerful food is as a connection point for people. We want to continue to keep people connected through food and through the services and the work that we do in a way that is safe and reliable.

My commitment is to keep us focused on continuing to exceed the expectations of our consumers, and the businesses and people we work with, and to make sure that we’re doing so in a way that makes sense for the new reality that’s emerging based on the current crisis.

—DyShaun Muhammad, Global Head of Brand Marketing, Uber/Uber Eats

 

The spotlight turned to Quest very early on. And we’ve been agile, taking specialized marketers and moving them around to have them help with the response effort. Everybody understands the role that testing is playing in our lives now. Following this pandemic, it will be extremely important to see Quest continue its focus on testing and health. Leading the marketing team and driving them toward that vision of expressing our brand in that way is the key thing for us.

—James Humphreys, Chief Marketing Officer, Quest Diagnostics

 

Now more than ever, trust is going to be immensely critical. For us, a lot of the activity we’ve been doing is helping communicate and inform as folks consider what it will take to return to work. We’re connectors, bringing together like-minded people to help inform our audiences about things they could be thinking about and ways that they can be helping to prepare in preparation for returning to work.

It is apparent that people are hungry for information, and they are in a lean-back mode where they are digesting, comprehending and understanding that information. More so than ever, we’re focused on creating content that they can use and consume and is actionable. As a brand, we talk about purpose and making people’s lives frictionless. One dimension of frictionless is trust. Our goal is that we become the verb to enter a building safely, securely and. with a peace of mind—you “Openpath” it.

—Kieran Hannon, Chief Marketing Officer, Openpath

 

We launched NTT in the international market in July 2019, and COVID-19 hit us when we were six months old. I don’t think there’s a sense of us re-emerging. Instead, there is a sense that this crisis is defining us. It has tested our work and our brand. It has become part of our narrative of how well the brand and the culture is performing in what is our new normal.

There has been an element of complacency with so many of the world’s biggest companies of my generation. Big brands disappear in big crises. So, we are focused on continuing to remain relevant to ensure we’re still here post-pandemic. And that’s my role.

—Ruth Rowan, Chief Marketing Officer, NTT

 

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