The new age of sincerity
If your inbox is anything like mine, then since the lockdown started you’ll have been inundated with invitations to webinars with titles such as ‘What brands need to know about the post-Covid world’ or ‘The post-Covid consumer and what matters to them’. After listening to a few, it became obvious that these were at best based on quite broad assumptions and at worst, thinly veiled sales pitches for whichever body happened to be hosting.
The truth is nobody really knows, these are unprecedented times (one of the phrases of lockdown bingo), and nobody can say with any certainty when/whether Covid will cease to be an issue, how our world will have changed, and whether these changes are long term or fleeting. So truth be told, these webinars are not worthy of our time or attention.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s not wisdom to be found elsewhere. For me, one of the small joys of the lockdown was listening to the radio more. I have nothing but praise for the DJs who have performed a public service, connecting a divided nation and helping to raise spirits. And it was whilst listening to 6Music that I heard Manchester icon and genius Peter Saville being interviewed about how creatives could help shape a new future. Amongst a well-informed and uplifting opinion about the opportunity to create a better way of living, Peter said that the one thing we are all craving at the moment is sincerity, and this struck me as particularly pertinent.
For many years one of the buzz words in our industry has been authenticity. We’re told consumers crave it, and brands should act with it. But I wonder if sincerity will be a more apt behaviour for these times, because whilst authenticity is static, sincerity is dynamic. Authenticity talks of our origins, of where we’ve come from, whereas sincerity is current and future facing. At a time when brands are paralysed by fear of making a misstep, sincerity gives them permission to take new directions and be judged on their own merits. As a public we don’t expect perfection, we just don’t want to be misled (insert your own Dominic Cummings gag here).
So at a time when despite what the plethora of purported experts tell you, the future really is unknown, I think the words of one of our greatest living designers are most relevant. We as people, as creatives, as brand owners can sit and passively refuse to act for fear of the undetermined, or we can boldly head out and try and shape this new future. By evaluating what matters to us as people, as communities, as a society we can step forward in ways which are far more than just authentic, they are sincere.
Written by Gavin Silsby, Planning Director