Despite last year, many brands were able to adapt to the challenges and come out on top. Between lockdowns and remote work, companies had to think outside the box to not fail. A few brands that grew throughout this mess were Chick-fil-A, TikTok, and The Home Depot. Here are 7 of the best brands of 2020.
As reported by Forbes on December 11th, 2020 by Scoot Davis.
Best And Worst Brands Of 2020: From TikTok, The NBA, The Home Depot And Chick-fil-A…To Quibi, Facebook And The CDC
This year was unprecedented for so many reasons. For most of us, our heads haven’t stopped spinning since March. For brands, this was a year when many discovered if they really had a purpose that anchored their place in the world and if their actions and experiences backed up their words and promises.
Deciding on brand winners and losers is always a challenge, but this year, I had some of the fiercest debates yet with my 450 Prophet colleagues, as brand performance took on so many more dimensions in 2020.
A number of brands were debated. We discussed the impact that Kobe and LeBron had on the world, while also talking about the Tiger King as the first COVID-19 bingeable show. The team gave a lot of love to the early COVID-19 responders including Unilever, 3M, P&G, KFC, Chipotle and Ford, while giving equal props to those that took an authentic, purpose-based stand on social justice, such as Nike, The North Face, REI, Ben & Jerry’s, Glossier and J&J. The brands that helped us get through lockdown and changed the way we think of delivered meals and goods, including DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats, Instacart and, “newcomers” Target and Walmart all received a lot of votes. Similarly, the streamers got a lot of mentions, from Netflix to Hulu to Peacock and Apple TV, as did the connectors in Zoom, WebEx, Teams and the slowly dying Skype.
Our team engaged in some serious conversations about the differences in responses that Uncle Ben’s (now Ben’s Original) versus Aunt Jemima (we are still waiting) took or about how we will collectively sustain the incredible Black Lives Matter momentum. Finally, others wondered what shape Brand USA will take in 2021 and how we will be talking about Pfizer and Moderna a year from now.
So, while dozens stood out, these seven received our highest marks:
While COVID-19 crushed the restaurant industry, Chick-fil-A’s immediate response and quick innovations explain why it’s become the world’s third largest and most beloved quick-service restaurant. It endeared itself to its growing number of fans by doubling down on drive-thru speed, including expanded lanes, “face-to-face ordering” and “order ahead pick up.” It is crushing it with their Chick-fil-A One app and enhanced delivery options, accelerating new innovations such as meal kits and their famous sauces in grocery stores…all while still bringing “my pleasure” southern hospitality to life every day to millions.
While this brand has long soared in our Prophet Brand Relevance Index® it took on an entirely new meaning in the virus-dominated universe of 2020. As consumers clamored for reliable ways to protect their families, the brand gracefully acknowledged supply-chain problems and shortages while becoming indispensable in our lives. With smart partnerships, like United Airlines and the Cleveland Clinic, it’s using its trustworthiness to increase sales and market share.
The Home Depot
This year’s WFH trends helped propel the Home Depot’s business as “Doers Got More Done.” What helped drive and accelerate this is its investment, commitment and leadership. The Home Depot continues to lead the industry in inter-connected digital experiences and e-commerce, customer service, products and pricing. Its commitment to customer and employee safety (and giving back to the community) has been second to none in the retail industry, as has its commitment to professional customers.
While TikTok was in the news for various reasons in 2020, its incredible timing met a moment when many needed ten seconds of relief from the real world. With over 100 million users in the U.S., TikTok has rapidly become part of our cultural lexicon. TikTok’s short-form viral videos, including its dance challenges and Ocean Spray “Dreams” video, took our minds off all things serious. From a niche player to mainstream media, this renegade has become so relevant that other platforms, like Instagram with its “Reels,” are racing to catch up.
The National Basketball Association
In a year of so many sports disappointments, the league, individual teams and countless players have demonstrated the best reactions to both COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. With its bubble, the NBA showed a thoughtful, empathic balance between athletic safety and happy fans. With its unapologetic embrace of racial-justice efforts, as expressed on each player’s jersey, it’s using its stage to change the hearts and minds of its strong fanbase.
Love it. Hate it. It doesn’t matter. Triple-digit gains prove Zoom found new relevance in wildly diverse audiences, from COVID-19 stranded senior citizens to energetic preschoolers. If you didn’t know what a virtual background was or used the words “you’re on mute, Scott,” you certainly do now. With a ridiculous stock price and valuation, continuous new features and updates through “Zapps” (a suite of apps integrated into Zoom), as well as fun innovations like video filters, Zoom will continue to be an integral part of our lives for years to come.
This workout-from-home brand started the year by offending an entire gender with its tone-deaf holiday ad. (Note to husbands: It’s inadvisable to tell your wife to work out more.) But as gyms around the world shut down, it understood that it had a unique opportunity to make family-room workouts an integral part of people’s health and wellness. With bikes, treadmills and increasingly appealing subscription offers (90 days free for all), Peloton hit on all cylinders in 2020.
Crisis Branding in Action
In 2020, adapting to difficult challenges were keys to success. These seven companies were able to leverage the situation, and pivot or change to achieve market success.. No question, to be a successful brand, companies must be able to adapt to challenges. Take 2020 as a learning year and put what you have learned into action in 2021.
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Additional Branding Resources
Benchmark the Top 100 Brands of 2020 (IDeas BIG)
8 Tips for Creating a Brand (IDeas BIG)