Taking note of historic narratives

Interesting times! I guess a huge understatement, and I should have come up with something snappier as an opening line, but then again, these are interesting and extraordinary times…

Generally, other than panic buying by some (please stop it), we are uniting as families, friends and neighbours globally. And appearing each day, are so many stories of real and genuine support and thinking of others. As for all NHS workers, ‘Namaste!’ (for social distancing reasons) doesn’t seem nearly enough… HUGE respect. I will step outside and applaud you and all key-workers at 8pm (GMT) today.

With regards to panic buying, I get the psychology of it- taking a degree of control when everything around you is beyond your control, and in doing so at least your loo-roll holder is charged and ready. But it doesn’t materially help. Fortunately this pattern of shopping, using evidence from countries ahead of the UK (in terms of the spread of Covid-19), it decreases after a few weeks, I guess with larders full and consumer confidence returning that there’s enough for everyone.

Rainbows sit alongside Neighbourhood Watch stickers in windows. And looking up, a passing plane is a visibly noticeable sight, rather than the familiar white contrails criss-crossing our skies busier than a Burberry check! Noise pollution appears to have been replaced with the distinct sound of Karcher’s jet-washing terraces and driveways. Air pollution is reported as improving, to the extent its predicted that potentially more lives will be saved globally (that would have overwise died through pollution related illnesses) than will likely die of Covid-19. But I guess, still to be proven.

Turning to business, many, including gpstudio, have moved to remote working, and very successfully, with incredible team comradery and continued traction. Yes, projects have been deferred for totally understandable reasons, but many continue, including international projects focussed on ‘design this year/build next year’, and we have just increased our team to deliver these.

Many new methods of working we might even retain, after Covid-19 is contained, some certainly being trialled are proving to be smarter and more agile.

We continue our thinking on evolving ‘new’ design strategies and the importance of brands not operating in physical/digital silo’s, ‘new’ future retail portfolio objectives and how these formats will behave and vary, and ‘new’ retail landscapes and how they will respond and look. Not knee-jerk reactions at all, more changes that were already long over-due or on the horizon (long before Covid-19 or Brexit), that will now be implemented sooner and with traction behind them.

While we will remain social animals (it’s in our DNA), ‘new’ tribal behaviour, a re-setting of values, and mindfulness will be essential to embody for successful brands to remain successful. Including what’s important and what provides need, desire, want, and experience (beyond the joy of a new loo-roll!). We may even see a momentary spike, as what we have been longing returns- but brands need to focus on the long term- as change is required. Every historic event generates a narrative of change that weaves itself into our daily rituals, habits and communications.

Meantime we have decided not to communicate shallow rhetoric of the nature of many emails I’ve received, instead and pinching terminology that a respected Client said to me, we are ‘hunkering down’ and continuing to support by doing what we do best.

Stay safe, and please join me in applauding all key-workers.