05/02/2021 wp_contented

How to not go back to normal.

We’ve spent almost a year now waiting for ‘things to go back to normal’. Who would have thought we’d have had enough of Netflix and find ourselves missing spending our days in an office? What with the turmoil of the past year, industries have been rocked by huge change and no sector has been left unscathed. We’ve had to get creative, adjusting to unpredictable circumstances and overcoming new hurdles along the way. But instead of looking nostalgically back at what we used to consider normality, we should instead see it for what it is – a past we have moved beyond. We shouldn’t revert back to ways-of-working that we now know to be problematic. Instead, we should harness this energy of change and unleash the full potential of what this could mean for the industry.

Embracing digital transformation.

Digitisation has been adopted in almost all of the creative industries in one way or another. From virtual concerts to online workspaces, 2020 was the year of embracing digital as the only means of remaining connected to the outside world. Even die-hard traditionalists are having to change their ways. But with so much of the population engaging with the world through screens, there is an even bigger demand for content from smarter and more demanding consumers. The sheer speed and volume of cultural change means creatives have to move at the speed of culture now more so than ever. But with bigger audiences comes greater media opportunities and moving forwards, this will be of the utmost importance for brands and organisations alike.

How we work.

With COVID-19 making the office all but obsolete, remote working has become a widespread norm for many in the creative spheres. Company culture has changed as millions have adjusted to a digital-first world and online way-of-working. We have seen into the homes of our colleagues and waved at our bosses’ children all through Zoom calls. We have staff on board now that some of us haven’t even met face-to-face. The future of how we work is uncertain. Will office culture be what it used to be? Or will working-from-home have a revolutionary impact as predicted? We don’t know what to expect from the coming years. In times like this, it is companies that build themselves around cultures of empathy and innovation that will come out stronger than those who focus on traditional approaches to working. These will be the necessary touchstones for companies to navigate turbulent times and not get swept up in the chaos.

Advertising and activism.

The pandemic has shed a much needed spotlight on deep-rooted injustices throughout the very fabric of society. As the Black Lives Matter movement gained global traction after the unlawful killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, issues of racial injustice came to be at the very forefront of public conscience. It also raised the question of how exactly brands and organisations fit into the public discourse around such a matter. In terms of advertising and activism, there is both a commercial and moral imperative here. Brands should recognise the potential of their platform to meaningfully engage with consumers and should not waste the opportunity they possess. In the coming years, brands that have a clear and uncompromising purpose, without virtue-signalling or jumping on the bandwagon of trending social issues, will win out. As 2020 taught us, creativity can, and should, be used as a force for good.

As John F Kennedy once said, ‘When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.’ The turmoil of the past year shed light on long-existing cracks in society that otherwise may not have been addressed. With that awareness comes an opportunity. No longer should we wait for an outdated normality. Instead, we should incorporate our learnings to start afresh and build an industry we want to work in and a future we want to live in. And I, for one, am excited for that future.