My next-door neighbor is an ER doctor. Every day she saves people’s lives. And as I hear her leave early or come in late after many days on the front line, it puts into perspective what we do (or don’t do) and the gravity of the situation that we find ourselves in.
We should not consider ourselves totally useless though. True, our Zoom "happy hours" and Slack contests aren’t making a meaningful difference, but on our best day, we remain adept at applying our creative minds to solving a plethora of problems and already we are seeing brands do just that.
LVMH and Brewdog, the British beer brewers, switched their production lines to make hand sanitizer. Gap is making N95 masks. Dyson is designing a new ventilator in 10 days. All of these brands are demonstrating what design and applied creativity can achieve against the odds in moments of need.
This is our industry putting our best foot forward and these actions fill us with hope about what the collective ‘we’ can achieve. I can also predict with some confidence that the actions these brands are taking now will be rewarded ten-fold when this pandemic is over.
On the other hand, brands separating their logos signifies the absolute opposite--a lazy opportunistic lob of an effort that falls significantly short of what is required.
McDonald's started the trend with a spot of award fodder straight out of Brazil. Little did they know that rather than win an award, they actually may have spawned a whole new category for Cannes, whenever indeed it happens.
"And the best use of spacing in a brand identity redesign amidst the Covid-19 pandemic goes to…
Since then, a raft of other brands have followed, some of them the biggest in the world. Clearly money doesn’t buy imagination, although it should buy you a better agency.
As an industry, we yearn to be taken seriously. We complain about the commoditization of creativity, and the consultants parking their tanks on our lawn, but when the best we have to offer is this, then we really don’t deserve much better.
We need to start with a different question. What can we do as businesses to help at this moment? There is more than we think. From giving hourly workers paid sick leave, to free food and drinks for essential workers, to redirecting funds to public projects. That list is endless.
If your final response is, well, perhaps we change our logo? Then we have an even bigger issue on our hands.
Matt Kandela is CEO of design and branding agency, Dear Future.