March 26, 2020 /Retail Insight

We must stay together, by staying apart

In any ordinary circumstances, our work involves helping brands create narratives to connect to their consumers. We work in a world of storytelling and experience creation. Yet, we are no longer in ordinary circumstances. In our current climate, daily life has transformed into a world of self-isolation and quarantine.

We have moved from a mentality of ‘forward planning’ and preparing projects in advance, to living day to day, making decisions as it comes. Many of us have been thrown into new waters, whereby we are working from home for the first time. We are together in this time of global experience of anxiety and uncertainty, whereby we are all trying to figure out what the next steps are. And it is early days. Nobody knows what comes next.

Yet in a time of crisis, brands have a genuine role to play. With the turn of the last two weeks, what is most clear is that brands must show responsibility to their consumers, their employees and communities as they navigate uncertain times. We need to inspire people to stick together, by staying apart. Now, more than ever, we must push beyond individualism. Is a time for collective effort and creativity. It is a time for ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’. We are living in a time whereby we must encourage people to sacrifice for the greater wellbeing of society and others in our community.

The sense of community that has arisen in the face of adversity this last week is impressive and change has happened at a lightning speed. For instance, on Monday morning, LVMH transformed its perfume factory into a production centre for hand sanitiser to be sent to Parisian hospitals who are on the front line in combating coronavirus. In the UK, L’Occitane is sending hand lotions to hospitals and Pret is offering free hot drinks to all NHS staff in the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the same time, we need to tap into our creativity to find solutions to help keep people safe and quickly. In light of this, experience designer Bompas & Parr has launched a competition for designers to find creative hygiene solutions. The aim is to rethink hand sanitisers to encourage hand-washing during the coronavirus pandemic while raising money for charity Over in the US and in the space of just five days, two New Yorkers created ‘Invisible Hands’. It is an initiative that has brought together 1700 volunteers together in five days to deliver medicine and food to the most vulnerable in society.

Brands must encourage and support people to stay at home and self-isolate. And this is no easy task. Yet in order to truly care for our neighbours, to support our key workers and our most vulnerable in society, is it essential. We are human beings after all and we crave connection with others. We wish to move, dance, feel, listen to music and spend time with loved ones. In the face of a crisis and social distancing, we must ask ourselves how we can create safe spaces for open conversation and connection.

Brands have the opportunity to provide comfort and build a sense of community online and via social media.  For instance, fitness studios are streaming classes online. There is a great comfort to be found in 450 yogi’s all live-streaming the same practice. At the same time, Netflix launched Netflix Parties, whereby groups can stream the same series together and watch in tandem with a messenger style chat.  California-based DJ Diplo started a daily live Instagram so fans can stream his music in order to keep spirits high. Deep Talks is a platform that is streaming community talk sessions so people can share their fears and worries in a safe space online.

Whilst we do not know what comes next, we must acknowledge and embrace the great responsibility of the immediate task at hand and ask ourselves, how can we make the lives of others better. How can we serve our communities and use our creativity so we can support one another in hard times, whilst respecting social distancing so we can protect our most vulnerable?  We must stay together, by staying apart.

This last week at Sheridan&Co, we have been working hard to make sure that in the current circumstances our wide team is protected so that we can fulfil our commitments to clients and the work that they have entrusted us with, wherever that work is. We have organised remote working where possible, provided equipment to those that need it to be able to work remotely in shifts, where appropriate so that teams can take it, in turn, to be in the office, which has allowed us to make sure that not too many people are crowded together as they work.

Most importantly, for all our clients, existing, old and new, we are here for you. Please let us know if there is anything extra we can do to assist you and your team during these, as yet, uncertain times.