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What the world needs now is sweet, sweet branding

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Wash, sanitize and repeat. And then for good measure, triple-check your door locks and wash again.

By now, we all know the drill in a global village crippled by virus-induced lockdown. And for that, no one needs to be incessantly bombarded with all the details concerning your valiant efforts to scrub down all staff and all surfaces. That, my friends, is what we call a “given” when facing the cold, hard realities of a new world shaped by COVID-19.

Not to make light of the situation and the hardships you no doubt face, but doing your part to ensure the safety of yourself and of others is now as expected as providing a “quality” product or “exceptional” service. If certain standards of performance are expected from everyone in your industry, then simply claiming or highlighting these actions and attributes devoid of unique information or instruction does nothing to increase your brand awareness or desirability, differentiate yourself from the competition, or solidify or reposition your business in the hearts and minds of your audience. At best, you merely become part of the chatter, but at worst you run the risk of alienating yourself from your audience by means of email, text, or social media post overload… and this isn’t the type of social distancing you want.

To be clear – yes, it’s important to take whatever means are necessary during this time (and frankly during any time of crisis) to protect yourself and others from illness and infection, harm and distress; and yes, it’s equally as important to manage the flow of information by informing your audience of these new practices through strategic crisis relations – especially if these measures drastically disrupt and / or restrict the sales / purchase cycle or experience; but we implore you to consider three very critical and contextual variables when considering composition and delivery of your message: Your Industry, Your Language, and the trajectory of Your Drift.

Consider your industry

Thank you for doing your part. For washing your hands, sneezing into the crook of your elbow, and refraining from hosting any wild house parties (not pointing any fingers neighbours two doors down…) But does your audience really want or need to know any of this over and over? For all of you reading this article, knowing that our creative industry typically operates remotely, do you really care how often I sanitize my keyboard (if at all) so long as this post makes its way to you free from infection? Share relevant communication, but only as it pertains to the needs of those directly impacted by the disruption of your goods or services. If your audience is unaffected – and their happiness, security or peace of mind not improved – by each measure you implement – if the quality or availability of your product does not directly correlate to the frequency or duration of your internal team’s daily keyboard swabbing routine, then you’re probably ok to keep it to yourself…

Your language matters

Context matters. So too, do words and even single letters. Words become worlds when used with strategic purpose and meaning to pump not just new life and new ideas into the heart of a person, place or thing, but work to inspire and direct the voice of new messaging, and the actions of targeted marketing effort and delivery. With this power, we can transform one carefully, strategically placed word into a whole world with limitless possibilities. Be strategic in your communications and use these touch points not just to deliver pertinent information, but to pluck a particular heartstring and strike a chord that will resonate loud above the chatter and carry with strength throughout your audience. At Unfussy, we preach simplicity; but this is no time for language efficiency or addition by subtraction. Nor is this a time for fear, anger or condescension. How have the needs and wants of your audience changed? Which words of reassurance and what new measures of intangible wealth can you offer your clients and customers during these difficult and tumultuous times?

What is the trajectory of your drift?

Now is not the time to be aggressively selling. Life has drifted off course… and now, more than ever, is the time to lean into the business curve. Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and truly expose and express the beating heart of your brand by offering not just more of the same commodities (even at a reduced cost) but by offering disruptive solutions to disruptive times. As Burt Bacharach co-wrote and sang, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love…” What is also needs is reassurance and hope, ease-of-mind and heart-warming acts of joy and happiness. In which ways can your offerings be modified to anticipate or respond to current and even worsening realities? Throughout this soul-searching process, you should realize that drifting off of your usual course implies a temporary state of affairs. Business operations can be corrected once the dust has settled, or you might just discover that disruptive maverick thinking has opened up an entirely new avenue for you to expand your audience, your operations, and your reach of influence…

If you are the owner of a flower shop now forced to shut your doors to foot traffic as a non-essential service, it would be wise to consider what intangible wealth you can offer your clients beyond the ease of online order accessibility and the safety and peace of mind of delivery or curb-side pick-up of their floral arrangements – especially knowing that the giving or receiving of fresh-cut flowers is likely not nearing the top of anyone’s priority list anytime soon. Disruptive thinking could lead to the realization that health care workers and essential services providers (ie, grocery store employees or teachers scrambling to shift their lesson plans online) are among today’s unsung heroes, and that the opportunity exists to become a beacon of hope and lead the charge as a catalyst for change which dictates that this new regime is most deserving of our admiration and appreciation, and as such, should be showered with joy and gratitude – even in the form of a simple flower. By encouraging audiences (through your online marketing communications, networks, and social media channels, etc. – or through example in the form of flowers with notes of appreciation placed under the windshield wipers of staff vehicles, or in hospitals, schools and grocery stores, etc.) to discover how this very day might bloom and brighten for others, you’re now drifting into the curve to meet or create new demand, solidify your brand power, and reposition yourself as an emerging leader in your industry while also giving the world more of that sweet, sweet love it so desperately needs.

Just don’t forget to wash your hands. And repeat. Because what the world needs now is also more sanitizing…