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It’s an FFT — for All of Us (Part 2)

How Brands Can Step Up for Moms

(If you haven’t read Pt. 1, you can find it here: It’s an FFT — for All of Us (part 1)

Thanks to Brené Brown and her excellent podcast, we’ve named and acknowledged the FFT (F*#%*@G First Time). We’re sitting with the anxiety and fear but have (mostly) figured out how to navigate the short-term. And when we consider what’s working for marketers, it’s the brands providing useful value that are proving to be successful. There are countless inspiring examples, from late fee cancellations, free subscriptions and deferred payments to PPE production and foodbank donations, and even the sharing of a beloved cookie recipe.

But what comes next? Where do brands go from here? The looming FFT is adjusting ourselves and the brands we manage to a post-quarantine world. We can’t predict what’s to come, but we can prepare. Now is a great time to pull back and focus energy on solidifying the foundation and planning for the future.

Listen to learn

As Brené says, now is the time to “listen with the same passion you have for being heard.” Most marketers claim to value knowing their consumer, but how much time do brands spend truly, simply listening? Hopefully, this experience is teaching all of us how to slow down, listen and connect better than ever before.

You could: Conduct (mobile) ethnography research to define the needs, barriers, desires and fears of your consumers and customers — going beyond your product or service. Research for the sake of learning rather than proving or validating. Behaviors and attitudes are changed forever, so spend time with your people to understand where they are and uncover opportunities to serve them better.

Assess & dream

All of us are re-examining everything. We’re asking ourselves what do we really need? What can we let go? Brands should be no different. Look at where your energy is going, what are the things that are truly making a difference for your brand? What are you doing because you ‘feel like you should’ not because it feels authentic or effective? What are your wish-for’s that get lost in the daily must-do’s?

You could: Take a step back and re-examine your marketing plan. Perform an effectiveness scan, or simply a gut check. What activities are no longer serving your brand? What might be missing? What are your dreams for your brand? This is a great time to reset, refocus and reprioritize your efforts. It’s easier to change when everything is changing.

Examine your purpose

A strong purpose is what guides brands, especially in difficult times. By now you’ve probably figured out whether or not your brand has a true, meaningful purpose. Was it clear how your brand should act and behave when the pandemic struck? Or were you scrambling to figure out how you should show up? One thing is true — consumers’ ever-growing expectation (demand) that brands lead with purpose accelerated overnight and won’t be going away.

You could: Revisit your brand’s purpose along with your social responsibility efforts. If you don’t have a purpose that is clear, aspirational and authentic to you, now is the time to identify and activate one. Defining and building on your purpose will help create the roadmap to move forward from the crisis. And if you do have a clearly defined purpose, is it working for you and influencing all of your decisions? Now is the time to ensure it is consistently activated across your brand’s efforts.

Strengthen your digital presence

When 90-year-old grandmas are doing Zoom calls, driver’s licenses can be renewed online and telemedicine has become the norm, we can officially claim Covid-19 as the Digital Economy Change Agent (Forbes, April 3 2020). And while some things may revert back, the world has changed forever. Does this feel like an opportunity or a massive threat to your brand?

You could: Examine your brand’s digital presence. Consider how the change in consumer behavior will impact your brand, your category and shopping behavior. It’s time to revisit everything from your UX to your brand’s visual presence across platforms, even how you’re helping consumers find a healthy balance between their digital and physical lives.

Keep innovating

If we didn’t already believe that necessity truly is the mother of invention, we certainly do now. Watching companies innovate and tear through barriers to solve real, urgent problems has been encouraging to say the least. The pandemic already kicked innovation into high gear, and it is what will carry us through once it’s over. Historically, global crises have birthed periods of accelerated innovation and change. With traditional systems disrupted and rapid changes in consumer behavior, brands who can create and realize insightful innovations are set up to win.

You could: Accelerate your innovation plans. Re-examine your portfolio to identify redundancies and gaps. Assessing, building and activating an insight-driven short and long-term innovation strategy allows your brand to capitalize on this moment in time and transition to a successful future.

Naming the fear and anxiety of the FFT is just the first step. Once you’ve named it, normalized it, put it into perspective and reality checked your expectations, you can be more free from fear and open to possibility. We’ll all be changed by this pandemic. But we can also use the opportunity to change ourselves, and our work, for the better.

We’d love to help you navigate this FFT together.


Melinda Davis

VP of Strategy
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Melinda Davis

VP of Strategy
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