If you’re one of the 70% of people around the world who work remotely at least once a week, you know the sudden silence that drops on you the moment you end a conf call. You know what I’m talking about. One minute you’re in the middle of a very lively — sometimes too lively — discussion with your entire team, or a vendor, or your boss, and the next thing you know five stars appear on your screen next to a small message asking you to rate the quality of the call.
And that message on the screen doesn’t come alone; rather, it brings a very distinct feeling of loneliness when you’re working from a home office and there’s only you there. It’s very faint, blink and you miss it, but it’s there, slowly creeping up on you for the five seconds it takes you to switch from the topic of the call you just ended to the next issue you have to tackle in your next call or email or presentation (that of course has graphs).
We’re always ‘ON’, connected through a device or another. But in the era of Skype, Zoom, Tinder, WhatsApp, working remote and high speed internet, we’re only looking for the same thing: to only connect.
No wonder “Humans of New York” has 20 million followers on social media and the first book in the series sold 30,000 copies in pre-orders alone. Not to mention all the spin offs, domestic and international. And if it’s one thing this proves if that in the era of Skype, Zoom, Tinder, WhatsApp, working remote and high speed internet, people from all over the world, in their core, are looking for the same thing — a personal touch, a connection. Something that speaks to them on an emotional level, something that moves them. Something that they can relate to.
We just want to feel.
And it’s in this era people are looking at brands that make them feel ‘something’. Most, if not all, of our purchases are status symbols; we signal through them to the entire world who we are and what is important to us. You can’t stop and talk about yourself with every person you pass on the street each day, but instead you can show everyone in a flash a piece of your mind when you’re wearing ripped jeans with chains with a tshirt with what you think is a funny message, while also sporting super short hair as a woman. The people you shared a space in the metro this morning judged you, whether you care about it or not.
Brands know this and revel in it.
A few years ago I was watching a show and the main character had an extraordinary watch. I was already emotionally invested in the show, the story and that character’s journey, so when i started reading about The Bradley Watch, how the idea came to mind, I was sold. EONE Timepieces, the manufacturer, used the personal story of naval officer Bradley Snyder who lost his sight in Afghanistan only to become a swimmer in the Paralympics, winning multiple gold and silver medals and ‘shattering a world record’. And with this backstory, it’s no wonder that the company is doing SEO with “buy your conversation starter” as the tagline.
The backstory is what matters most. Just like when writing a new character for TV or the big screen, screenwriters also do a backstory that the audience may never know about. And think about when you’re starting a new relationship, you come with your own backstory.
For example, the ethical brand MOYO tells the story of a mom of three who fell in love with the beautiful Nairobi and wanted to share her love with the world, while also investing in the community she is now part of. Using leftover fabric from big fashion brands, the local colourful cotton, and working with a small group of African seamstresses, she’s able to bring the designs to life following the principles of slow fashion. MOYO empowers its workers, thus contributing to providing the livelihood means and education for their families.
Wearing The Bradley watch makes you feel empowered; it’s not only a conversation starter, you feel like you are a true fighter. You’re standing up for inclusive design (as the watch is in Braille, a great fashionable alternative to the traditional, ‘boring’ watch blind people have), while also being resilient in the face of adversity.
Wearing MOYO makes you feel like you not only care about how you look like, but you also care about doing the right thing and having some good principles. You want to look good, but you don’t want that on the expense of workers that make per day less than your Starbucks coffee. Wearing MOYO means, in short, you care.
No wonder brands are spending hours and hours building target profiles. So they know what feeling their products need to evoke.
At every marketing or branding or IoT conference there must be at least one track that talks about the content. I started going to industry events about 7 or 8 years ago and this has been the one topic that powered through all the changes. ‘Content is king’, ‘build content that sticks’, content, content, content. It really is a super power in itself, when used right. But content has to be tied to a story, somethings that makes people, when reading, nod to themselves in agreement. It’s not just about content, it’s about what that specific content does for a specific person within your target audience.
And this is the biggest challenge now - how do you create feeling from behind a keyboard?