By now, our thumbs are slightly sick of scrolling obsessively through bad news that only offers moments of perceived control (followed by the bitter taste of anxiety).
But it’s those moments of control we’re addicted to.
Our Media streams are flooded with contradictory, arrogant points of view that throw us into spirals of overthinking.
The more we view ourselves as besieged victims, the more we will nurture our ‘fear goblins’. (Feeding them their beloved meals of canned tomatoes and toilet paper.)
In the unravelling situation, it’s easy to give into the spiral, to point a bold shaking finger at Pam in the supermarket, who is yet again hoarding toilet paper.
But it’s our shaking finger, raised voice and over-obnoxious scoff that is our real enemy. Not Pam (supposedly eating the toilet paper at this point).
“The best way to understand the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life, is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas, products, messages and behaviours spread just like viruses do.” - Malcolm Gladwell
We can’t dominate or regulate others as much as we would love to, but we can choose what we spread.
Some wise words from Mos Def: “Why did one straw break the camel's back? Here's the secret: The million other straws underneath it. It's all just mathematics.”
We don’t need to shoot the camel, (the camel being your brand) but if we keep piling up the straws on its back, we will break it. (‘Straws’ being our way of thinking)
There is a philosophy in the helping professions called the “Strengths-Based Approach”. Pursued as a reaction to assuming patients are deficient or broken, this was a movement towards seeing their strengths, rather than focusing on their issues.
A Strengths-Based Approach has been proven to give power, recognising humanity rather than focusing on brokenness. The same goes with your business, and your customers.
Let’s look at our brands with a Strength-Based Approach rather than focusing on all-consuming deficiencies. We can empathise with any brokenness. But when we focus on our strengths, this is where we empower our companies by seeing the humanity in them.
In the midst of a pandemic we are forced to discover new ways of adapting. The desert your camel is crossing is uncharted territory. Stop straining her with useless straw, followed with a polite, woeful ‘sorry’ for her troubles. Feed her the grass she needs to get her there in good shape.
We have an opportunity here to usher in a new era, to leverage our strengths during a time of uncertainty.
In this turbulence, our consumers won't forget the brands who offered practical support, lead with their strengths and perceived opportunity. Who wanted to help rather than complain.
They will forget that melancholy email explaining in detail exactly how they are cleaning their camel.
After the Great Depression and World War II, the post-war consensus ideology boomed. Due to the chaos the War and Depression brought, people around the world voted for governments that looked after the people first. Their joint consensus prioritised people, capitalising on the opportunity to have a say in what their world should look like.
People are recognising the opportunity to do this again, but better.
The question is being asked: will we nibble tirelessly on straw or will we cultivate a new era?
A recent article by One News revealed that 60 per cent of Kiwis want to support New Zealand-owned businesses in order to get our economy “back on its feet”.
"I feel like this period of lockdown has given us the chance to think and reflect upon our lives and we've made a lot of, if you like, Covid resolutions in terms of how we'd like to live our lives."
Our money, time and resources have the power to nourish a new ideology. What cause will we infect the world with?
We can invest our money back into our communities, industries, businesses and culture, using our assets to actively pursue a more self-sustainable country. Hopefully, an even more sustainable world.
We can cultivate a future we care about.
We cannot deny that the affect of this pandemic will impact some industries more than others. Fashion, retail, hospitality and tourism to name a few. Their desert is going to look a lot more desolate (much like Queenstown’s empty streets). So how they equip themselves for a comeback is going to be even more crucial to their survival.
There is going to be a shift towards intentional consumerism.
Conscious sustainability, ethics and values will no longer be niche plays, the survival of our brands will depend on it.
We need to pivot and think about if we are going to join this shift or cement ourselves in old ways of thinking. (Adding more straw to the camel’s back…you know how that one ends.)
The tolerance for fast fashion is rapidly dissipating.
A 2018 report by Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group shows that more sustainable approaches could push companies’ profitability by between 1 and 2 percentage points by 2030.
Value defined by virtue.
By making your brand more sustainable, ethical and intentional you are not only increasing the value of your product, you are telling a story that is worth listening to. Brands that don’t tell their stories will fade into the background and exist as a pre-COVID-19 distant memory.
Let’s start an epidemic worth investing in.
Cross the desert well.