An acceleration and a slow down. Why, yes.

Many choices are being made for us these days in an effort to slow down the unprecedented COVID-19 that is casting a dark shadow on our country’s well-being and economic status. When this all began, I made a promise to myself to remain positive, operate with a high degree of empathy and never let down my “WOO”. Slowing down (which those who know me well know that this is something I don’t do well) is a time for strengthening at our core — mentally, professionally, physically and emotionally. This past week and a half, I’ve spent time slowing down in each area and reflecting on what I’ve learned:

Mentally

We, as humans, are capable of handling almost anything that is thrown our way. How many times when we are going through a situation, we question “why me” and slump over the grim reality of what’s occurring in our lives? And, then, a few years later, we look back with a fresh perspective and can appreciate why that may have happened. CEOs, local businesses, health care workers, even the crazed WFH+NTI realities in our own homes are leading to more questions than answers at the moment. The reality is everyone around us is going through something right now. We’ve just been blindsided with forced change and it’s ugly, no doubt. No one situation is any worse or better than another. Yet, if we wake up, show up and use this time toward betterment, the hope is that we can confidently say we made progress, we learned, we got better. Live in the moment, but don’t fear the future. The future holds amazing opportunity — just be confident in the decisions you are making today to get there.

Professionally

Our agile team of rockstar creatives has seamlessly adapted into this “new normal” and we are working fearlessly to help our clients navigate these unprecedented times. We understand the future is uncertain as many of our clients plans are shifting daily, yet we stay true to our purpose of creating fire, and lean into this even more in these vulnerable times. Over the weekend, I was reading a series of articles and something really caught my attention — the rapid speed at which consumer behavior has already shifted and will continue to rapidly change. It is estimated that consumer behaviors have fast forwarded five…yes, 5 years. Every day, we mine insights to why consumers do what they do. Then BAM, human behaviors accelerate by five years in a week span. Rapid adoption is not normal and most brands and businesses are scrambling to adjust.

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Photo by Miti on Unsplash

In our team huddle on Monday we talked about many different services and industries — restaurants, fitness studios, grocery, fashion, schools, religious communities, financial institutions, entertainment and the list could go on. In some ways, it’s easy to look at these shifts as temporary, but if the adoption curve is already over, we have to ask ourselves will we ever go back? While some behaviors may revert, it seems as though social distancing has forced change in an instant. How will brands respond? Are they willing to create a meaningful experience in this potentially lasting new normal? Who will consumers trust in this trying time? As brand stewards and authors of creativity, we see this as a positive injection forward. A genuine purpose is crucial, an understanding of evolving unmet needs and a strategy to digitally connect will test how brands flourish or fail. As fearless leaders at BrandFuel, these topics are critical for conversation and push us to continually evolve our strategy for creating brand experiences. How have changing behaviors impacted your strategy? Will this change create lasting impact?

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Photo by Dane Wetton on Unsplash

Physically

The fitness industry has gone through a drastic pivot in the past few weeks. Some have been set up for success in a digital environment (a la Peloton, Mirror and many online communities), but many have had a significant source of revenue halted immediately leaving key personnel creatively scrambling for income. Online communities have been built within hours to share practices, routines and more (thank you Instagram and YouTube). Fitness groups are forming via text to motivate each other to reach goals. Personally, I let guilt or time pressures get in the way of physical fitness. Many of us have these idyllic states in our minds of what we should look like. At the end of the day, it’s how we feel. Companies and individuals are all finding mini-moments of innovation for improved physical fitness. With every-increasing WFH schedules, perhaps, our commute has been deleted, how might we turn that time toward self-care? How might we invigorate our minds with a brisk walk to reduce stress and calm the mind? How might we take a true recess with our kids to burn some energy? How might we accelerate personally and turn these new activities into habits? How might we inspire others to lead a life where we can feel good (even if we can’t be together)?

Emotionally

6ft distances aren’t really my style. As an extrovert and avid hugger (yes, surprise), the absence of contact feels like a true void. I thrive in face to face connections and believe body language is really important. Thanks goodness for Zoom, Skype, Teams, Hangouts and everything else in between. And…have you experienced a HouseParty? A dear friend introduced this to me and it’s an app that has gone viral in a few short days. “With 10MM downloads on Android and millions more on iPhones, it’s become the hit app of the lockdown” (Forbes, 23 March 2020). Talk about belly laughs, this app has been good for my soul and brought forth emotions that I’ve craved during this time in isolation. Thank you Gen Z for keeping me sane, allowing me to laugh (with a lot of people), cry (when I needed to vent) and lending your tech-savvy app to enable our emotions to flourish in this time of flux. While I often resist adding any more social apps, listening to my inner “fck it, why not” was well worth it and continues to be. HouseParty anyone?

What a cluster, we accelerated and slowed down all at the same time. Change is inevitable and crafts the experiences that we love to hate and love to love often simultaneously or sequentially. Our team obsesses over the brands that shine in times of change, as if their purposes prepared them it. This acceleration is now our reality. Let’s continue the conversation, bring forth the support for each other and prepare for what is to come.

— Stephanie Wright, Owner & Managing Director, BrandFuel Co.

www.brandfuelco.com

Fiercely curious creators building bold brand experiences. Come say hi at www.brandfuelco.com

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