Hands up if you’re experiencing nausea at the very sight or sound of yet another brand espousing that we’re ‘#allinthistogether’. Perhaps a welcome and comforting sentiment in early March, but several, long weeks in, the universal tagline of this pandemic – although well-intentioned – is wearing painfully thin.
One of the most interesting insights we’ve observed during our covid-induced isolation is the concept of strategic silence. While a disappointedly large number of brands have found the ‘me-too’ lure of letting us know (with painful regularity) how sanitised and “here for you” they are, the most astute marketers have been respectfully quiet on all things virus, giving clear air to the health experts and government to be our primary sources of pragmatic truth, while tactfully and stylishly reminding us of their worth and value in their own, slogan-less voice.
Authenticity is the lifeblood of all brands. Truth and belief the umbilical connection between customer and balance sheet. It’s the reason faulty products cost so much more than a replacement and postage, and why companies that put principles before profit will always win the long game. And nothing perks the bullshit radar of a savvy consumer than a brand that jumps on populous sentiment, for fear we may be losing sleep wondering if they really care. The truth is, we rarely care what brands think, and even less so in times when our conscious and subconscious bandwidth is almost entirely consumed with the surreal reality of our freedoms, and in many cases, the traumatic burden of financial survival. By far a more authentic and effective approach is to replace the neediness of being liked with the responsibility to help.
If there’s one industry that’s been particularly savaged by the new world order of late it’s high fashion. With new collection runway shows cancelled, international store networks closed and a customer base focussed more on staying alive than remaining seasonally stylish, high-end designer brands could be forgiven for seeking as much superficial attention they can get. Instead, many of the world’s most respected fashion houses have re-tooled their priorities - and in many cases, even their factories – to make a meaningful contribution to the communal, global fight against Covid-19.
With little fanfare, über-brands including Bvlgari, Zegna, Gorgio Armani, Hugo Boss and Louis Vuitton have diverted resources and manufacturing capacity to the production of sanitizer, non-surgical face masks, single-use medical overalls and uniforms for local hospitals and health care workers, helping to keep an army of experienced artisans in employment, while bolstering the diminishing supplies – and spirit – of those in the frontline, and indirectly contributing to the preservation of life. Others have made significant donations to local health services, while finding creative and inspiring ways to maintain engagement with their audience, such as free online embroidery or sewing lessons.
By putting their expertise, creativity and bank accounts to work in such relevant and authentic ways, these brands have given true, practical meaning to ‘in this together’.