‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.’
I am all too aware many people’s imaginations are involuntarily working overtime catastrophising the tragedy COVID-19 is causing globally. I get it. I get how hard it is to keep your energy up and your mood even when the world as you know it has turned upside down. The immensity of its impact is being felt and will be inescapable for our foreseeable future. For years I’ve been signing off blogs with we’re all in this together so let’s play nicely and share. I could never have predicted what would shock us into the realisation we share the same air and how keenly we might feel that.
However, despite the wide ranging health concerns and economic horrors, I am reminded of my mother’s saying ‘There’s n’ere and ill wind that doesn’t blow somebody good.’ My local grocery store, a family owned and multi-generational operation is busier than normal as more people want to shop and support a friendly face they will see again. And to take imagination on board in a positive sense, I’m excited to see this crisis as an opportunity for growth and innovation in every aspect of our lives. What will we create together?
A crisis is defined as a difficult or dangerous time in which a solution is needed — and quick smart too, from the greek krisis meaning ‘turning point in a disease’ so how can we seize the moment where things can get better or worse to be intentionally better.
And if you’ve known or followed me for a while you’ll have heard me bang on endlessly about cycles and the rhythms within cycles. I’ve even written a small book about it. Destruction is a constant just like there’s always creation. Every ending brings the possibility of a new beginning. The only certainty is change and if we take some moments to notice nature, and our own nature there is no stasis – everything is dynamic; constantly moving through the cycles of infinity, birth, life and death to be transmuted and transformed into something else.
If the ‘Rona’ has done anything it’s shone light on the gaping holes in the systems and lifestyles we have personally, professionally and societally, enthusiastically adopted in recent decades believing it to be progress, as we scurry from one obligation to another, relying on complex supply chains and convenience at any cost in the status quo of busy.
In just two short weeks, imposed isolation has turned homes into multi-functional and multi-disciplinary workspaces, classrooms, gyms and more. People are in closer quarters than they might wish or like. Clients are reporting work calls with screaming children and other interruptions. Routines have gone riot as the divinely separated and compartmentalised personal and professional world we had privileged above all else has been devastated.
In our pre-pandemic poster lives we lived our endless TODOs to earn the tick DONE. We rarely reared our heads to ask if what we were devotedly doing actually mattered. The work altar has crumbled as fast as the calendars we had come to ruled by. Instead we have been given space – to reflect, think, question, review, and imagine and; time to stare into space. And space is where imagination, possibility and innovation are born. Boredom is the breeding ground of imagination.
Creativity does not breed in fear but in freedom.
Innovation does not flourish in chaos but in curiosity.
Necessity is the mother of invention as her child explores, experiments and tries again.
We’re already seeing it everywhere and in everything. When we take the space we see more clearly. We begin to listen more acutely. We can hear our clients subtle needs more intuitively. We gain clarity about how and where we can make a difference. Pivoting, adjusting, reinventing and realigning is evident in brands everywhere and across all industries to meet the needs of our ‘new normal’ with generosity, grit and grace and a renewed focus on sustaining and sustainability.
Relationships reclaim their rightful status. Interdependence is the new black.
So, let’s talk about the ways in which you could use this collective break to take some space to build your brand for the better before you start again.
Mine your mission for gems
Small businesses and large alike get buried in the day to day. As we busy ourselves with the outcomes and the income we can mislay or forget to use our telescope and lose sight of our vision and miss our mission. We forget our dearly held values when the bank balance dips and someone offers us wads of cash. Truth is great brands – the ones you can reel off your tongue, the sustainable, long-serving ones – are using this downtime time to divert their attention and thoughtfully divine their strategic direction so they direct their energy and their resources aligned with their essential purpose. They’ll be coming back to basics, refining and distilling their positioning, their stories and messaging so it comes from a deeper more connected place with compassion, conviction and clarity to fulfill needs that help their clients get the results that matters.
Trend is out, transparency and truth are in. Walking your talk has never been more true. Personal and professional are synchronised.
The opportunity lies in owning who you are and showing up with confidence and clarity about what you can help others accomplish in a no-nonsense way, let’s get our hands dirty together way.
Values, virtue and valour while delivering accountable value.
Own your vision then plant and plan season by season
Remember a vision is not a place to be right now. COVID-19 has thwarted everyone’s plans and that’s just how it is. We can’t fight reality. Course correction is on everyone’s cards but don’t throw them all in the air. Develop a plan A then develop a plan B for the next 6 then 3 months. Work backwards through how both will work for your brand. You’ll need overall strategy, positioning, then consider different marketing opportunities, promotions, and what ifs ‘cos there are always are some (who predicted bushfires, floods, COVID-19).
Consider your clients behaviour – comfort and discomfort. Can you adapt your offerings to the address both. Can you predict their pandemic phases and how their needs will change daily, weekly, deep in lockdown and emerging. This is a time for brands to go beyond themselves, to risk, to experiment and to express themselves more truthfully.
I’m working with clients to adapt their offerings within the context of the crisis, tapping into their curiosity and creativity to expand their thinking and unlock hidden gems and capability to ensure they not only survive but drive the momentum that is being presented.
Crisis focuses the mind to distill what really matters and the unique impact their brand delivers for their clients acknowledging their lives have also been changed.
Caring, connection and community
The purpose of business is service and being in service to your clients has never been more important. How can you show you care? How can you be more human? The impact of social distancing is hard. As humans we’re hard-wired for connection, conversation and chit-chat so keeping our distance is neither natural nor nurturing. Your tribe are looking for other ways to fill this need. Help them. Show them. Talk with them. Be real and create real deep value and relationships. It’s often through sharing challenges we deepen our bonds.
Could you change how you offer what you do. Could you offer it to more people. Could you be more generous. Could you go deeper. What could you do that shows you actually and really care. A crisis calls for under promise and over deliver more than normal. Become a genuine great values story worth telling.
Show up on social
Social media is a mine field and while we may question the investment, there’s no denying it works, but now, we need it and can see its value more than ever. With real life interactions constrained social platforms are seeing a huge increase. More use, engagement and overall growth. Instagram and Facebook have reported a 40% surge. ‘Live’ and stories are +20% with impressions up 21% (source). What’s also changing is how social is being used. More inspiration and less look at my ideal life 🙂 More try this than do this. More interaction, more webinars. There’s a slew of challenges like #see10do10 for workouts, cooking and wellbeing. I’ve been doing a daily InstaLive breathwork at 09:00 AEST to help people STOP before they start their day. These stats are showing you content is key. Social is super at gathering and keeping connections, and in a time where there is no news but ‘the Rona’ create content that creates conversations, with stories worth telling so your brand authentically connects with its tribe. More than ever people are looking for ‘their people’ in a crisis.
Up your ante online
It’s no surprise to report with all non-essential retail shut down there’s been a surge in digital. Reports of 40% since March 13. (source) Ramping up national levels of self-isolation (ISO) clearly indicates the opportunity here to meet consumers demands. Some sectors like books and electronic goods have been impacted since the birth of ecommerce but everyone is in the eye of this storm right now. Amazon have declared they can’t keep up with demand so delivery times are slow. I’ve seen agile brands move fast to elevate in their online experiences but remember branding is all about the experience so haste. can hurt your brand if your brand essence doesn’t carry through on your ecommerce platform. I’m a stickler on this. I’ll write another post on my experience with a hand surgeon whose online forms didn’t work. His assistant kept insisting I just print them out and fill them in and sign them (with what my feet 🙂
Online experience need to carry your unique essence through your brand stories: shown, told, felt, and heard as much as offline. I’m adamant that your digital experience should expand your distinctive brand voice and reinforce your brand essence. It’s not an either or, digital and virtual are an integral part of every brand. Will this crisis accelerate it, for sure and don’t let your rush compromise your hard work.
Craft compelling comms
Connection with your community counts. Support and service subtly confirm. Make the sell secondary. Reveal more you. Be invitational and conversational. Be sensitive to the struggle. It’s real. Anxiety, overwhelm and fear is amplified. Feel it, address it and communicate with empathy and encouragement.
More people will be online which means more eyeballs. Respect them, their time and their needs. People will be still trying to navigate their way to their wishes. Create compelling, clever content with a point of view that’s worthy of their attention that clearly shows them who they are and why they should care about your brand and how it can help them get what they want. Use this time to cultivate your creativity and compound your client’s choice to work with you. Challenge your comfort zone. Stretch into the world you want to create. Remember this too will pass and that everything is an experiment. Experience expands us. Exciting times eh! What better world do you want your brand to be better in when we emerge?
Because we’re all in this together so let’s play nicely and share.
Image Unsplash Herbert Goetsch'There's n'ere and ill wind that doesn't blow somebody good.' Click To Tweet Relationships reclaim their rightful status. Interdependence is the new black. Click To Tweet Values, virtue and valour while delivering accountable value. Click To Tweet