We are living in an age where anxiety, fear, depression, and all sorts of mental health issues are on the rise. And with the not-so-dear Coronavirus capturing mother Earth from all possible directions and deciding to stay for long, the whole situation of mental health is only getting from bad to worse! And it is, of course, understandable. Economies are disturbed, social life is not really the same, holidays are not so free from restrictions… So yes, these are challenging times.
While there is increasing consciousness amongst brands to be sustainable and spread goodness, I have been thinking about this a lot: What if brands also decide to do their bit for mental health and stand for spreading happy vibes?
Brands are all around us. We are literally living between brands. Funny enough, now that I am writing and thinking about this and I am looking across my desk, right from this very laptop to my phone, to a camera, and even the humble pencil, they are all brands! This means we are swimming in the communication pool of brands all the time. Right from the moment we open our laptops at work and receive a welcome message to looking at the labels on things around us, our minds are consistently processing information being fed by brands.
So what if brands decide to use these ways of communication to simply just make someone smile or remind them of a beautiful life, whenever they get a window. By telling better stories, being really more human, and maybe even playing with a hint of humor and wit, can brands help ease out the ultra-tensed neurons of the human mind? There is an increasing consciousness to make brands more authentic and define a purpose for them. But if more and more entrepreneurs decide to incorporate this vibe in their brands, I believe communications could become so much more real!
I know the argument here could be, “Hey, how can we decide to give our brands a happy vibe?” Isn’t it something that should depend on the strategy and the people we want to serve? While I agree with this, I would also say that by happiness, I do not mean making your brand a clown always trying to make people laugh! You don’t want to surely become this clown who tires people to the extent that they just want him to shut up! But just like brands embrace sustainability or ethical practices into their system, they make it their way of being, why can’t brands think of just spreading niceness and happy vibes across all their touchpoints.
Let me make it more tangible; here are some ideas on how brands could possibly be much more human and take at least a small percentage of responsibility on their shoulders to fight the cause of mental health.
1. Let your brand please people and make them feel as if by connecting with you, they have become a part of a story.
Here, I would take the example of the vegetable brand, MisfitsMarket. If you are unaware of this young brand, it’s about selling organic vegetables, which are not so good looking. They are not the shiny, clean, plastic-coated vegetables that you might get in supermarkets. Instead, they are raw, dirty, ugly – the misfits! But they are, of course, healthy, so it’s a win-win! Right from the concept to the communication of this brand, there is niceness. To me, it’s an expression of healthy living and, at a broad, indirect level, it also symbolizes how misfits could be valued and perhaps be an essential part of society. The brand further amplifies the messaging with a play of lively colors, very real-feel copy, and just feeling so human! By the way, I am not an affiliate, I honestly just love the brand.
2. How can brands become your friends? Here, I would share the example of Mailchimp, the popular marketing platform for small businesses. If you haven’t used the platform, let me share this: When you prepare a campaign via Mailchimp and you are just about the send it, the platform shows pop-ups like, “This is your moment of glory!” I think it amazingly captures the emotion of the user at that point. You have designed the entire campaign, it’s about to go out there into the world, and it’s just in a very subtle way asking you to enjoy that slight nail-biting moment. And once you send the campaign, it celebrates with you. It applauds you for doing what you did! It acknowledges that this wasn’t easy, but you did it. Aren’t these tiny little gestures enhancing the human connection with the brand? If brands do their bit in understanding people, wouldn’t it be just so awesome?
3. I also think about the customer care services that brands have. Though this might be a little far-fetched, wouldn’t we all agree that customer care for brands has become oh, so robotic nowadays, that even though a person might call you, the monotony in their voice and the predictable messages just leave the user with that feeling of “oh my god!” What if brands do their bit of sounding more human and less un-real. Can that be a little breather for the stressed minds of people?
5. Social media is where brands live, breathe, and exist in today’s world. Of course, it’s like a party that you just cannot miss. And here, in the quest of just being out there, brands are bombarding people with messages of random greetings, constant offers, and information about their products, such that it’s just leaving the users exhausted. Though there is surely a shift in here with brands trying to add value and not always ‘advertise’, the percentage of brands doing that is still relatively low. Can we think of making a world where brands still communicate, they of course show their existence, but instead of fighting just for visibility, what if they make a conscious effort to build relationships, have communications that really matter, and nurture a bond with their people?
These could be small gestures or just a mindset shift for brands as they develop their strategies, but I believe it could go a long way in fighting the bigger monster of mental health issues. Brands have the power to put across their voice and if their communications could inspire action, evoke a feeling of purpose in people, and just share a bond with them, wouldn’t it be a wonderful use of their power? And I further believe it’s a huge win-win for brands too! After all, this is inspiring brands to build better relationships with people and win their hearts. While this is the purpose of most brands, it gets lost when business takes over and concerns for talking about their products rise. Of course, it’s business, so while there are some essentials, if brands could just be more conscious about how they impact people and have a concern for adding value to life, it could go a long way in not just doing a lot of good, but also being a great boon to their own business.
Do you think your brand is ready to inspire, share, support, bond, and contribute its share towards happiness?
Cover image source: Jovan Vasiljević