Main Takeaways:

  • We have a super exciting guest this week, and she used to work for the happiest place on earth

  • Brian's not on the show this week so, things might get a little dark

  • Does anyone do branding better than Disney (probably not)

  • What does the future of commerce, the future of brands, the future of this planet even look like anymore?

Was February Two Months or Two Years Ago?

Since time has absolutely no meaning anymore, it seems like February was forever ago, but two months ago, Phillip and Lianne met Summer Jelinek at Future Stores Miami after hearing her deliver an inspirational, impactful, keynote speech about authentic customer experience.

So let's talk more about Summer:

  • Summer Jelinek is a speaker and trainer with over twenty years of leadership experience with major corporations like Walt Disney Corporation, Disney Institute, and HEB.

  • Summer connects with audiences all over the world by redefining what consumer experience means in a modern context.

  • In an age where consumer experience has become all-important, where the social contract between brands and customers is in full effect, this level of understanding is essential to the growth of modern companies.

  • Fun fact: Summer first fell in love with the idea of the consumer experience at a ski ranch in New Hampshire and a dude ranch in Colorado

Do All Brands Know Their Audience As Well As Disney Does?

One of the most important considerations for any company is to know their audience and to have their audience consistently be a part of the brand's journey. Disney has their branding down to a science.

  • Summer says Disney brands absolutely everything from their pretzels to their soft drinks, and it's all a part of the story.

  • "It's just who doesn't want to eat a little bit of magic and pixie dust whenever you're having a bad day"?

  • Phillip mentions an essential aspect of the brand-customer relationship: "The better you know your audience, the more receptive I think they'll be to the kind of messaging that you could craft at this moment."

  • Summer says that Walt Disney World is an economic indicator, when the economy is good people are going to Disney, and when it's terrible people stop going (editor's note: whoa )

  • It's worth noting that Disney has handled the crisis and results of it rather well; even as the parks have closed, it's felt as though the pixie dust has dimmed a little bit.

Retail Right Now: What Does The Situation Even Look Like?

Amidst the raging COVID-19 pandemic, questions remain on everyone's mind, what is the new normal in retail, and how are brands and consumers going to adjust to the current situations?

Phillip asks Summer what she thinks about the current situation on the ground?

There's a lot to consider:

  • Firstly, there are a lot of brands who are doing incredibly well, and specific categories are booming (at least right now) because of the pandemic, while others are struggling to stay afloat

  • And as Summer mentions, right now, whether a brand is doing well, we're all just trying to survive through this.

  • The trick for businesses who are not doing as well right now is to become creative and figure out what they're next steps are, regardless of how long this lasts, with the information we all have right now.

  • Summer has some advice for brands looking at this right now: Instead of asking, why is this happening to me, ask how are we going to survive and why is this happening for me? What am I going to learn? What am I going to do differently? How am I going to set myself apart as a leader of the pack?

  • While most businesses may have the technology in place, adapting to the current environment may be more of a people problem.

A Sense of Normalcy Is What We All Need:

Looking to the future is essential, but it's just as important to figure out what consumers need right now, and the steps that are essential to keep everyone safe.

So how does one feel normal in the middle of a global pandemic that has led to almost 20% unemployment?

  • Summer mentions that one of the struggles for brands may be having to give consumers an authentic brand experience even while limiting human interaction

  • Phillip brings up a company that has managed to keep its authentic brand experience undiluted: Chick-fil-A, which as a brand (a fast-food one at that that even has GF options) has managed to maintain a sense of normalcy even as they follow the rules.

  • Summer gives her perspective for the next six months and says that there will be growing pains as everything reopens, but we may all be better for it.

  • There is a lot that brands can do with this time, and even join in and celebrate with their customers as this all comes to some kind of end, it could be an inspiring time for brands.

Extra notes:

Phillip mentions an article he wrote for FC Insiders called From Plows to Swords, it's fantastic, and you can read it here

Also mentioned during the show is a piece by Brian on authenticity in brand experiences during COVID-19, you're going to want to read that as well, check it out here.

If you want to reach out to Summer (and you should), you can go to →

And Summer also mentioned that if anyone is looking for resume help during this scary time with lots of layoffs, you can send her an email at

Also, → What is something that a brand has done that has made you feel a sense of normalcy during this chaotic time?

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