Behaviour change is possible.

We are all living that reality every day. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but in business things quickly become the new norm. Working practices. New priorities. Better listening models. Brand and business communication over product push.

And we can already hopefully see that some of the changes we are adopting will stay when normality returns. Less business travel, richer support for causes, better appreciation of others, and simply doing the right thing.

Before the lockdown, a number of these challenges were (or should have been) on the business agenda anyway. Just not high enough up for many, because behaviour change was hard to imagine and implement. Before we had the evidence it could become something more organic, something step by step doable, and something that clearly ties together stakeholders at all levels.

This is the decade of delivery, especially around all things sustainability, after years of contemplation topped with the last year of heavily upweighted activism. That need hasn’t changed, but in terms of front of mind agenda it might seem to be have been parked for everyday realities.

Yet has it? Or are current circumstances just the forerunner of what should happen next? Change is underway, fresh considerations are being acted on for ‘community’ and we are seeing a shift in brand and consumer behavior to be more mutually supportive of each other, more accepting of new rules of life and investing more in helping those in need to win and cope in tough climates. Nature too is seeing the impact. Goats in towns. Fish in Venetian canals. Noticeable improvements in air quality.

So more than ever, alongside the need to manage day to day challenges, there should be a focus on the big picture strategy for continuing with a more considerate, listening and action led culture, linked especially to sustainable goals and changes.

Brands and businesses are being judged afresh –  and positively –  for what they do or say that aligns with consumer needs and attitudes and that is ‘useful’ and/or ‘generous’.

Now is the time to think and brand plan more around the ‘Millennial minded’ audience, which is not an age focus but an attitude that appreciates brands who have values as well as value. The time to find a rallying cry. And to educate others in an entertaining way around positive differences and brand strategies in play that will improve our collective lot. We have a world full of interconnected issues that require transformational levels of change, and brands, audiences and interest groups working together to help make that happen.

It’s a new narrative era with a host of journalistic, consumer, employee and business partner connectors available to help bring the colour and the values to life. And more than ever we need and want to see a positive potential future ahead through collective doing of the right thing, and movement on to a ‘can do’ place.

And this requires we think three core steps

  • Purpose replanning. Finding a plan of action as well as words to bring your environmental and sustainability contribution and values to life, and with an everyday ‘editorial spirit’ behind it as opposed to mass marketing. Make it dialogue friendly for your audience
  • People empowerment. Finding a way where your audience can participate. This is show and inspire time, not just tell. We are in things together
  • Pulse taking. Listening to make sure things have a real pick up. Problem meets solution, with a healthy dose of measurability behind ambitions

Yes this needs some reinvention of the way channels play a part in the mix. It needs some more personal and bespoke thinking across the business and it’s stakeholders, and more listening to where the consumer and journalistic mindsets are at.

But out of adversity comes strength, and as the change journey is already in play for most, stopping it makes sense for no one when it can have a positive long term direction like never before.