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Right Now, Lead Your Brand With Vulnerability

By Mike Fox

Co-authored with Sherwood MacVeigh

At Hyperquake, we believe brands are like people. To move your product, you have to move people, regardless of your industry.


It’s imperative that brands drive empathetic conversations based on shared values between your company and the people in the world today. But what happens when those conversations become singular to an overarching crisis that everyone is experiencing differently? How can brands empathize with people authentically when the vast majority support products and services that are irrelevant to what we’re going through?  

As we collectively manage our way through the COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing social, economic, and emotional fallout, the answers to these questions won’t be found with what we know about our businesses, but what we don’t know about ourselves. Now is a critical time to connect as an organization and be vulnerable with your brand, and thus, with each other. The result will reveal messages that offer greater authenticity to audiences starving for it.  

Brands that deploy vulnerability will uncover hard truths, but this crisis deserves exactly that. Don’t be afraid to seek them out. If it’s uncomfortable, you’re on the right track. The common alternative – communicating convenient and sterilized empathy parallel to your logo – will only add to a barrage of noise without ever being heard, or worse, trusted. We’re seeing this now with the saturation of we’re in this together messaging and flawed virtual events. What began as a fair sentiment in the grips of sudden change is now an empty platitude. You need to explore what in this means for you and your consumers and evolve with them.

It’s commendable to join the conversation, but organizations are a collection of people and resources that can impact the greater good. Don’t just join the discussion; strive to lead it. And from that position, back it up with action. To do this effectively takes courage, compassion, and authenticity. These are the core values of vulnerability – they’re the values people seek in each other. If your brand isn’t connected to them, it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be, it means you need to go find them. 

Vulnerability is often, and wrongly, considered a weakness. It lays our fears, shame, and uncertainties bare. So instead, we numb these and focus on proficiencies. This dismisses opportunities for connection and growth. The truth is we have more in common with our perceived weaknesses than we do our strengths. If you want your brand to relate to people in a truly authentic way, particularly in a crisis, you’re more inclined to find it in the space you’ve ignored – the space you’ve deemed a weakness when in reality it’s a space begging to be understood. 

This is a vulnerable place to be in, but that’s the point. It’s the sweet spot for discovery, creativity, and a stronger connection with the people you serve. It is here you can find untapped potential, misallocated talent, values that resonate with larger audiences, and ultimately, a better story to tell. 

Vulnerability is a launchpad. It is the basin for the truth we tell. And truth, in all of this uncertainty, is all we want right now. 

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