From the Blog

Marketing Messages During the COVID-19 Crisis

At STRATAC, we apply psychology to each of our user experience design engagements. We use an adapted version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to explain how to motivate customers. The pyramid starts with safety, then relationship, then achievement, then problem solving. As customers, we need all of these things, but depending on the situation – one motivator may mean more to us than another.


I give the example of: I have to hire a bookkeeper. I can choose to hire someone who has great testimonials that I’ve never met, or I can hire my brother in law who just found a new career path… bookkeeping. Depending on what goal I’m trying to fulfill, I may choose one route over the other. If I want to keep the peace with my sister at Thanksgiving, I’ll hire my brother in law. If I want to use someone who’s got a proven track record, I’ll hire the woman off Google with the 5-star reviews. 

I am making a choice to sacrifice “achievement” for “relationship”. The woman on Google has proven she does a good job; whereas my brother in law has an insider advantage. What should I do? Well – I may choose to gamble and hope that my brother in law’s career migration from bee keeper to bookkeeper is solid and that it’s worth it to keep my sister* happy. Or, I can choose to do what I think is going to be a safer bet (see what I did there?) and go with someone who has proven they can do what I need them to do (achievement) and has done a good job (problem solving) and has happy customers (relationship). Which should I do? Well… it all comes back to Thanksgiving and that one time I accidentally got gum in her hair when we were playing Barbies… I may never live down her having to get bangs.

But, I digress. Lots of times we weigh what matters to us most and we make decisions to act or not act in specific ways to make our lives easier. 

So – here’s the rub… the world is going on lockdown about COVID-19. Whatever your position – here’s what we are going to do. We are going to explore how mega brands go about communicating these core psychological motivators in their messaging.

Every few days, we will post a new letter or announcement from a brand, marked up with our findings. We will highlight words that show Safety, Relationship, Achievement, and Problem Solving.

Safety = Green
Relationship = Yellow
Achievement = Orange
Problem Solving = Red
Multiple Points = Magenta

Got it?

To get us started – let’s examine Hertz. Go through this document and read the full document. Then, try reading only one color. See what they’re doing to communicate these values. 


In this scary and unfamiliar time, look for how you can continue to provide our most fundamental need – Safety.

*Fine print note – I do not have a sister. No family members were harmed in the writing of this blog.