How brands have responded to COVID-19

Right now, it can be difficult to figure out how to best communicate about COVID-19. With information related to the novel virus changing almost hourly, it’s essential for marketers and brands to remain informed of the latest COVID-19 updates before posting something on social media that’s out of touch.

And what’s unique about the current situation is that although we are physically removed from the outside world, we are still very much connected to the digital world. For this reason, the content you share online is of particular importance.

And when it comes to content and social media specifically, the expectations are high—90% of consumers expect brands to provide them with meaningful content. But half the content people experience they don’t find useful.

Although this is true, 55% of consumers do believe companies have a more important role than governments today in creating a better future, and 77% prefer to buy from companies that share their values. How and what you say on social media during a crisis, nonetheless, is crucial.

So, how are brands responding to COVID-19 and what’s the best method for business? In this blog, we will look at the HATCH model and examples of brands who have responded to the pandemic, giving you tips on how to manage your brand reputation and providing advice on how to communicate around the crisis

Let’s take a look.

If you want to see more examples of how brands are responding to COVID-19, check out our webinar with industry experts from Red Havas and Ogilvy.

Principles to consider when it comes to your content

Our needs have shifted overnight, which means as a brand, your communication strategy has to change too. Creating meaningful content right now is not easy and requires the right kind of thinking, research, and processes. The good news is the time spent on social media has climbed, with the usage of the Facebook app alone has increased by 37% during this pandemic. (That’s a lot more eyeballs looking at your content!)

The thing to consider is not whether or not you should be posting as a brand, but what to be posting and how your content is going to contribute to audiences whose lives are now isolated. There lies the challenge for brands and one that we hope to help provide some insight into. The general theme? Consumers want the brand to give them peace of mind.

The HATCH method

Have you heard of the HATCH method? If you have, here is a refresher. And if you haven’t, well, we hope this can help your communication strategy.

HATCH stands for:

  • Helpful
  • Accurate
  • Timely
  • Compassionate
  • Human


In this time where people’s lives have completely been re-imagined and nothing works the way that it normally does, people are looking for different needs and they’re looking for brands to fulfill those needs.

West Elm did just this. Of course, the company is all about enriching your home. They immediately responded to this crisis and offered to help people’s user experience on Zoom by providing virtual backgrounds that showcase a West Elm design environment, ya know to hide your dirty laundry and everything. And they also have been showcasing the best examples of how people have used West Elm products to enhance their work environments and those celebrating them on social media. Helpful box, checked.


Let’s first define accuracy: making sure that you distribute accurate information and keep your customers or your audiences aware of what your company is doing during this crisis to make their lives easier.

The brand that nailed it? Delta airlines. They have a really good understanding of social and a good grasp of what their audiences want. Here you can see that not only were they extremely timely in acknowledging the issue, but they really understood what matters most right now to their consumers or the travelers that are still, you know, jumping on planes and needing to go somewhere. And that really is cleanliness. So cleanliness and the new kind of Delta clean standard that they’ve now introduced is forming a really rich platform for their content. The key takeaway? Understanding what’s important and accurately communicating with the audience in a timely manner.


Timing really is everything. And when it comes to crisis management, you cannot be late. Needless to say, this situation is changing every single day. So making sure that you respond in a timely fashion and acknowledge what is going on and how you can, or how you’re playing a role is critical.

Nike just did it. The brand proactively recognized it was a time for them to encourage people to stay home, but still remain active. Nike stuck to its simple but powerful brand voice, joined the stay home movement in the digital landscape, and did it all before most brands. We call that a brand crisis communication win.


Showcasing compassion is something that all brands seem to be doing. It is something so vital right now, as consumers who are isolated are naturally yearning for it.

And as if we didn’t love Target enough already, the brand didn’t disappoint with their compassionate content. The brand not only acknowledged the issue first, but also got creative with it, and added human touch.

By recognizing the fact that these days are quite difficult for most and asking people to share what makes them smile, shows consumers that the brand cares about them personally.

Another thing Target is doing well, is asking their audience what they would like to see on their Instagram Story. (Take not other social media managers!). With the questions, quiz, and poll features available, they instantly gained insight into what their audience wants to see and hear.


Last but not least, being human. Social media is a two-way street. It truly is a conversation between brands and people and as a brand, it is important to have a human perspective and showing that you understand your audience on a personal level.

UNICEF has done a fantastic job at centering and focusing on the issue that matters most to its audience, which is a force. The company looked at what parents might need in order to equip their kids with the right information around Coronavirus, for example, by distributing a guide for children around understanding what Coronavirus is.

They’ve been repurposing relevant content that’s being shared by people across the world, for instance, a TikTok video that was published by a boy in Vietnam who did the handwashing dance, hoping to get the importance of washing your hand’s message across.

Overall, the time spent on social media has risen and brands are a big part of this picture. Marketers should be asking themselves the question: What are people looking for from us? We have found the overall takeaway is that personal factors now play a crucial role in how brands communicate.

To bring it back to COID-19 and how you could consider these things, it’s really looking at a couple of critical criteria in how you assess and evaluate what you say and how you say it on social media.

Meltwater wants to help you best deal with crisis communication during this time. Download our free eBook to learn how to use media intelligence to manage crisis communication or read our blog on mastering brand crisis and reputation.

*This blog piece covers key takeaways based on a recorded transcript from our most recent webinar. Please note this is a summary of the discussion and uses examples from the speaker’s verbiage.