The Bitter Sweet Symphony of Change - Abnormal

I’m always fascinated at the ability of songs to take on new meaning depending on life’s context. I don’t think The Verve ever intended their song, Bitter Sweet Symphony, to be a wake-up call in the midst of a global pandemic.

“No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change, But I’m here in my mould, I am here in my mould.”

What a bittersweet opportunity to have change be the driving force that will see us through. A situation where ‘can’t change’ isn’t an excuse, change has become an imperative. The moulds that we contorted ourselves into no longer produce the same results. We have the glorious, terrifying call to change.

How many decisions to change have been put off because they seemingly weren’t pressing enough, inconvenient or required too much energy to action? Or simply because, well, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Stick to business as usual.

“Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life. Trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money then you die.”

Perhaps our definitions of ‘broken’ and ‘usual’ will take on new attributes in business and brands (not that those can be separated, but that’s a different article). John Sanei, in his FutureNow webinar with The Daily Maverick, pointed out the shifts we can both anticipate and create. The old ‘business as usual’ would put profit first, the share value. Triple bottom line reporting tried to address this, but the scorecard was adopted, not the ethos. Business threw money at CSI initiatives and bought carbon credits to placate the requirements of the audit, a short-term fix for a generational shortfall of having true impact. This is the call for shared value.

John also calls us to relook a myopic interpretation of consumer centricity. It doesn’t mean make compromises on production to make the cheapest items. Doug Place, in the VMLY&R Digital Edge webinar, challenged the use of the term “consumer,” as if people can only be described by brands in their ability to consume. This brings us to the term planet centricity; when people ask the right questions of brands, there is intentional upliftment of local communities rather importing, and government structures are accountable and engaged in supporting this new ‘business as usual.’

“Well I never pray,
But tonight I’m on my knees, yeah.
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah”

I would argue the true definition of consumer centricity is where the intention is to address people’s pain points and add value. BBH has released a Covid marketing playbook “How to protect your brand: A briefing for Marketing Leaders from BBH” which highlights identifying consumers’ new needs and how, as advertisers, we’re in the business of value, not just communications. If ever there was a time to rethink what people place value on, the relevance of an offering, pricing that is typically results agnostic and reevaluate the method of distribution, this is it.

Change is never easy, it’s bitter sweet, it’s time to break the mould.

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