Between a pandemic, an awakening on racial injustice and boycotting social platforms, companies are having to shift as quickly as a ball getting flung in a pinball machine. 2020 has proven to be a year of constant challenges, emergencies and unrest, and many major consumer-facing brands are evolving to face them.

In May, consumer brands across the country (and globe) were faced with the same question: what are you doing to address and combat social injustice? Comments and questions poured in across social channels, holding every major company accountable. Despite what companies may have had in their marketing calendars, this was now their focus.

Companies like Nike and Ben & Jerry’s, that have a history of speaking out against social injustice, were able to respond quickly and authentically. For so many others, though, responses required a more internal reflection and review, not unlike the process many individuals have worked through, to determine where they stand and what they’re going to do about it.

Quickly, it became clear that blanket statements of support were not enough. Consumers demanded companies be accountable for those statements and make a real impact, by outlining clear next steps and taking concrete actions to help. And brands that did, like the three outlined below, secured news stories that allowed them to take an active part in the narrative and share their messages:

  • PepsiCo announced a five-year, $400 million initiative to lift up Black communities and increase Black representation including efforts to expand its Black managerial population and increasing scholarship support  
  • Sephora was the first retailer to sign the “15 Percent Pledge,” a commitment to carry more products from Black-owned businesses
  • Netflix announced the company would put 2% of its cash holdings into financial institutions and organizations to directly support Black communities in the U.S.

In today’s world, brand evolution is vital. Below are important steps to take before making a statement about yours:

  • Take your time. With social comments and questions pouring in, and other brands getting out there with their commitments, it can be easy to feel rushed to put something (anything!) out there. Don’t give in. It’s better to do it right the first time.
  • Find the right fit. Ensure what you’re sharing is in line with your company’s values, mission and is possible to achieve, since your audiences will be watching to make sure you do what you said you would.
  • Make it clear. Be direct in your statement and own it. If your company has dropped the ball, own that too, and then clearly outline what you’re going to do next to pick it back up.

If your company needs assistance with crisis management and communicating with consumers, we’d love to help. Reach out to me at