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Culture Shock and Brand Adaptation

By Alena Adler, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

We as a design community are living in a state of culture shock. Our computers are now the main interface with which we interact with the world. Whether we are sitting socially distanced from someone at the conference table, or remoting into the office from home, we send or receive deliverables in isolation. When we do step away from the computer screen or zoom meeting, those ominous graphics spaced 6 feet apart are there to greet us --with arrows pointing us in every direction we didn’t want to go. This seemingly “contactless” interaction is forcing companies to adopt new branding solutions tailored to remote delivery methods. Company branding has tried to make sense of this solitary environment with phrases such as “alone together” and “we’re here for you,” but how effective is the message? And how should company branding aid in its delivery?

Offering customer service with no personal interaction makes branding a vital component of company to client interaction, and adjusting the company brand to the virtual platform has become essential to delivering services. Because everything is contactless, we have shifted to a more visual and audial form of information gathering through a digital interface. In addition, digital information is presented in a transient form, with daily uploads of new content across multiple platforms. Information delivered should be concise and to the point, easy to locate and consistent in content while maximizing exposure to the brand and message. Branding that is most effective will be multi-faceted in nature, flexible and able to respond to these shifts in delivery methods.

Branding would traditionally communicate the company’s story and provide identity in whatever format preferred. In the current digital culture, branding has the unique ability to pitch the product, and deliver a sense of familiarity and comfort in a disconcerting atmosphere. Messaging should take note of the new context of environmental and psychological impacts post-Pandemic. Brands can alter their content to address heightened factors of fear, individual levels of safety, and emotional stress while still remaining true to the product and company goals. Successfully branded messages are those that are personal, attempt to engage in a tangible way, communicate empathy, and provide ways to help us be pro-active in the development of our new culture instead of navigating uncertainty.

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