Hang on to that enthusiasm


Do you remember your delight when you saw wild animals taking over our streets and rivers?

by Valentin Fleur, Head of Strategy, Managing Director Canada

Remember how grateful you felt when you learned that people of Jalandhar, India could finally enjoy the views of the Himalayas, after 20 years?

Do you recall how pleasure replaced anxiety because, without the traffic’s roar, you could hear the birds chirping like never before?

Do you remember your eagerness to explore, plan and take action, as you imagined your life in the post-pandemic world?

This crisis is not over, and we are all affected by it still.  But I believe it made us all more conscious of what we value most and what we will cherish even more when all this is behind us.

Even the small things.

Mostly the REAL things.

As a branding person, I wonder what effects on people’s emotions, attitudes and behaviors will remain as a result of this period. Trends, they come, they go, but this shock will leave an indelible print. And brands will have to deliver appropriate and responsible responses.  

To be honest, almost all the emotional communication that was created globally through the early weeks of this pandemic felt inappropriate.

You and I respect and value those courageous front line workers for putting their lives at risk to ensure our basic needs, and at the same time, I think some brands took advantage of their situation, and did so in a melodramatic way. Solemn, emotional voiceovers, sentimental piano melodies, dramatic scenes conveyed pathos at all levels.

I believe brands should bring out the best in us instead of digging us deeper into the hole we are already in. 

Here is what I believe brands should look for when this is over.

Look for newly relevant insights.

Find that leverage that connects your key messaging to your clients’ recently reshaped needs. You can only create that sense of connection by sensitivity to the changes in the people you’re seeking to engage with. Though your brand promise may not have changed, your clients’ expectations probably have.

Find role models and inspiring figures.

My new hero is my cashier at Metro and weirdly not Gael Gadot (if you haven’t seen it):

If this pandemic has changed one thing, it is who we look up to. Those anonymous workers deserve our admiration and the advertisers’ attention. Brands should look for the people within their organizations that could be their best ambassadors and set them on stage. People are looking for honesty and transparency, and I’m not too sure a celebrity can fit into that suit at the moment.

Encourage positive messaging.

Nobody wants icing on top of cotton candy, just as nobody wants a tear-jerking soundtrack in an over-poignant scene. But people value good news and good deeds. Share your social responsibility efforts, your latest product innovations, your complimentary services, your extra personal care…focus on those little things that make your brand uniquely relevant to their lives. By communicating, not bragging, that you care about them and their world, you can expect the most engagement from your audience.

Search for the right tone and musicality.

Not only will brands have to advertise responsibly but they will have to advertise with the responsibility of making the most of every investment. Finding new factors of differentiation to catch attention is going to be crucial. Here are a few to consider:

  • Exploring a new tone of voice in order to reinforce the connection with your changed consumers.
  • Designing your own sonic territory to create a connection with your public at a more emotional level.
  • And, finally, now that people won’t feel so inclined to touch devices, there will be a surge in voice-enabled functions. Brands will need their own specific voices to stay out of the sea of sameness imposed by the limited choices offered by Amazon and Google.

After all this isolation, the more human, the better.

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