One Mother of a Fluid Brand
Hands up if working, parenting, living through 2020 felt like the most disruptive brand experience imaginable. All the pivoting, masking, am-I-muted moments. All the screen time, with all the dogs. All the kids fighting, missing out, making up, TikToking through the room during client meetings. The politics. The self-reflection. The cultural reckoning. The effing-first times (FFTs, as Brené Brown calls them in her Unlocking Us podcast) just kept on coming. In waves. Over one long, fluid moment.
Living, Breathing Change
Months before the March 2020 shutdown, I read an inspiring post from hybrid strategy/creative agency Zeus Jones declaring fluidity as the defining trait of our time.
“In order to thrive and serve, brands must evolve and invent at a pace faster than culture. And constantly show people a new and better way to live.”
I fell in love with the perspective that as long as you hold true to a core conviction—the big question leading to your central belief, your purpose, your why—a brand can be this living, breathing, ever-changing influence for good.
OK, let’s unpack that:
Influence for good.
2020: The Brand
What makes 2020 one mother of a fluid brand? First of all, the fact that it was a brand. With memes and Halloween costumes and a Satan/2020 Match-up. And 2020 never stayed in one place, never stopped evolving—itself or its audience (which is to say, pretty much every human being on the planet). Our response to everything the past year has handed us? Our mindset has shifted weekly, sometimes daily, from fear to normalizing to empowered to optimistic and back again. Which begs the question: What is the 2020 brand purpose? Its core conviction?
Reverse Engineering a Brand Purpose
In my creative director strategy brain, the full-on reality of how radically our world has changed over the past year comes with an intense mix of overwhelm and palpable excitement. If you’ve been on a video call with me, you’ve probably seen it or felt it. Because with so many of us sharing in a collective reset, it doesn’t get much more human than this level of emotional connectivity.
To reach a proper 2020 brand purpose, we’ll have to reverse engineer it. Let’s use my own (sort of) customer journey as an example. Defined here in four stages:
2020 is scary. It will challenge everything I know and every belief I hold—about myself, my family, my work, my world.
I faced the challenges of single-parenting through a global pandemic and crisis of culture. Since March 13, we’ve been hybrid learning, remote working and social distancing under one roof, analyzing risk versus reward daily, balancing our family’s beliefs, values and mental wellbeing with those of our community and country.
On a personal level, I'm intensely grateful for so much family togetherness, learning how strong and resilient we Lohkamps can be, establishing new rituals, leaning into a sense of higher good. Professionally, I'm filled with excitement at the idea of what a collective cultural reset means for marketing. It’s an exhilarating state of forget-what-you-know because so many of our beliefs, values and habits will never be the same.
Looking back, 2020 made me stronger. More openly vulnerable. More comfortable with change. It made me a better human. Anchored by my own truths, always willing to adapt.
So where do we land on a brand purpose? What is the 2020 why? A few, but not the only, options to consider:
Uncertainty is certain.
Collective reset is possible.
Resilience is the only way.
And if I were the 2020 brand manager, my recommendation might be:
Normal isn’t worth fighting for. Humanity is. Living, breathing, proving our adaptability—like the fluid brand we’ve all become.
Still working through your 2021 strategic planning?
As an intelligence-first marketing company, DS is hard at work researching, analyzing and illuminating human behavior to create more connected, conscious brands. Stay tuned for more culture insights, reports and webinars, and learn about what it all means for your brand.
Robin Lohkamp is DS+CO’s creative director with smart strategies that elevate brands, amplify the right messages and build connections.