Give me a compass, not a crystal ball – CampaignLive

Tips & Guides

Things become axiomatic because, broadly, they’re true.

A stitch in time frequently does save nine. Many a true word is, indeed, often spoken in jest. Clichés such as these stick because they are reliable, if imperfect, guides.

Of the many clichés doing the rounds at the moment, one that seems to be bearing up well to overuse is the old saying that a crisis “brings out the best and worst in us”. Time and again, we see evidence of this essential truth – a truth that applies equally to brands as it does to people.

There is a clue within the wording that provides an important protection against the biggest danger facing brands during the crisis, which is to overestimate how much Covid-19 will change the way your brand should behave. I say this because, although the virus is undoubtedly having a massive impact on behaviours and attitudes, these impacts don’t alter the fundamentals for a brand.

Perhaps the biggest fundamental to consider is that people don’t really change, as Bill Bernbach memorably observed: “It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary… a communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive desire to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.”

In a crisis, it is easy to forget the inherently long-term nature of brand-building and to get moved around by the headwinds rather than the tide. 

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