The world will never be the same, but better
When debating the long-term effects of the 2020 Pandemic on social evolution, sociological consensus is that such an emotionally charged crisis, however transient, is bound to be profoundly transformative – for both individuals and societies. As 2021 rolls in, it becomes clearer and clearer that the world may never fully go back to how it was before Covid-19. The paradox might be that this “revised reality”, in itself, could bring about some positive changes in human society.
Although emotionally taxing (or perhaps even as a direct consequence of its emotional intensity), the crisis has acted so far as an “eye opener” for many people. The events of 2020 were hard to process and accept, yet they generated an increased awareness in many aspects of our lives: from how we deal with the unexpected and uncertain (and how flexible and adaptable we really are), to the deeper notions that we were holding about the role of mental health and physical interaction in our overall wellbeing. When facing external threats, people tend to go through an internal process of redefining themselves and their approach to life. As it has been the case many times in human history, we (re)discover now that difficult challenges actually foster growth and an expansion of horizons.
One of the unexpected effects of the pandemic was that it gave us all a chance to press the “pause” button and take a good look at the world around us, to better understand the social and economic systems that underlie the way we live, the way we work and even the way we entertain ourselves. We received the opportunity to “revise” our lives: to identify the things that are useful, to give up some of the things that bring us no benefit, and overall to reimagine what society could and should be.
Brands will continue to play an important role in people’s lives – especially for Romanians, that tend to have high expectations in them, putting higher trust in the private environment compared to state institutions. If 2020 was a year of survival, when people expected brands to support society in more pragmatic ways (as it has actually happened, through donations and projects aimed at minimizing the negative impact of the crisis), in 2021 and beyond people will look to brands for a deeper, more profound type of support and leadership, that resonates with humanity at its core.
Emotional times call for human and emotional approaches in leadership – people need to feel safe about the present and motivated about the future more than ever before. That is why communication needs to remain a key pillar for brands - as long as it subscribes to people’s need for thoughtfulness, respect and human authenticity. Even more so, as people are rediscovering and redefining their inner selves, so must brands. In a time when consumer discourse is dominated by “I just realized this about myself/ about my life”, brands should drive for introspection and self-awareness just as much. It’s acceptable to be imperfect and to make mistakes, as long as you own them and work to solve them. However, it has become a clear faux-pas to be tone-deaf to people’s problems and sensibilities, just as much as being unable or unwilling to evolve.
Brands will be at their best if they manage to find ways in which to help manage and overcome the powerful tensions that arise at individual and social level, enabling peoples’ growth process with targeted tools and solutions. But even more important, the successful brands in the times ahead will need to bring to life a new practical and hopeful vision of the future, moving and inspiring people to build together something important in present, with humble confidence that every step will take us all, as ONE, towards a better tomorrow.