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  • Lucy Grant

#BeyondCOVID Town Hall - AUS 02

Updated: Jul 24

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#BeyondCOVID is the new mindset we have all had to adopt… how do we operate in this new changed state? I've gathered together some amazing Design Executives to share what they are doing now and in the coming months to survive and thrive in these difficult times.




Contributors:

Nathan BirchCEO, Interbrand ANZ

Amber Bonney - Founder and Head of Strategy at The Edison Agency

Dylan Brady - Conductor (Owner) at Decibel Architecture

Richard Henderson Founder & CEO at R-Co Brand

Julia Monk - Hospitality Thought Leader, Architect, Interior Designer, Former Senior VP, Director of Hospitality Interior Design at HOK

Julie Ockerby - CEO - Creative Director and Principal at Meli Studio Australia


Quote Bank:

In these times, the true colours of brands have come out - Nathan Birch
Brand strategy endures. It should be the internal view, the essence of what the business wants to do, and it should be able to deal with a crisis - Nathan Birch
Laptops and mobiles are great for now, but there is going to be something else that blows our minds - Nathan Birch
These times are showing which brands are just being opportunistic, and which brands are being credible and authentic to themselves - Amber Bonney
The brands that have come out with smaller more relevant gestures of warmth and humility are the ones that will stand the test of time - Amber Bonney
We have to change our whole language in the way we communicate - Amber Bonney
There is no closure within our current digital communication models - Amber Bonney
One thing that is going to be incredibly important is authenticity - Richard Henderson
There is a whole other way of working now where you can feel the image, see the image, but it’s between a flat screen and your own expectations - Richard Henderson
There is nowhere to hide in this new technology – you have to engage, and if you don’t you’ll be found out - Richard Henderson
I learn so much from these conversations, it’s very helpful to be part of this dialogue that is unfolding - Richard Henderson
I’m an explorer, I’m out there and figuring out where to go next - Richard Henderson
I’ve ended up in a place where I have lots of time, so I am turning my attention to others, reaching out and caring - Julia Monk
The bandwidth of digital communication internationally has definitely sped up the way we are able to make decisions and interact with consultants and clients - Dylan Brady
The digital space has made meeting intricacies much simpler and more powerful - Dylan Brady
The way we gather, meet and exchange information is digitising - Dylan Brady

Notes from the conversation:


What are the strategies to build momentum?

Themes: Confidence, Context, Connection, and Cadence

Nathan Birch –

  • There are two schools of thought with advertising at the moment:

  • Initially, when the pandemic hit, all the conversations were centred around a need to talk to customers and clients around our response to COVID-19 (very much a comms driven strategy). This ‘rabbit in the headlights’ perspective has been less about the brand and more about comms (togetherness, unprecedented times etc.). For the first two or three weeks we were seeing a carbon copy in advertising—this video on Youtube captures it perfectly

  • After this initial period the reality of the situation began hitting home for a lot of clients. Began accelerating conversations about the digital adoption and transformation

  • Still a belief among some, particularly in retail, that we will get back to some king of sense of normality as it was—I think they are sadly deluded about what is going to happen

  • In these times, the true colours of brands have come out

  • A lot of brands that we are speaking to have said this is the time to find the true essence of our brand

  • Brand strategy endures. It should be the internal view, the essence of what the business wants to do, and it should be able to deal with a crisis

  • We have not found a digital solution that beats the creative exploration and workshops that happen with clients face-to-face

  • I think we will move away from just looking at each other through glass

  • It will accelerate trends moving away from linear, base communication

  • Laptops and mobiles are great for now, but there is going to be something else that blows our minds

  • A lot of the time I am more concerned about the mental health implications more than anything else

Amber Bonney –

  • It is one of those times that is going to be very telling of people – in terms of brands showing up in the right way

  • These times are showing which brands are just being opportunistic, and which brands are being credible and authentic to themselves

  • The brands that have come out with smaller more relevant gestures of warmth and humility are the ones that will stand the test of time

  • With our clients we have been growing our project base, in terms of helping them with their change management

  • We are helping our big clients at a corporate level – branding solutions for internal comms, communicating back to their customers, developing strategies to rebound from this

  • We have to change our whole language in the way we communicate

  • There are nuances in the way we are digitally communicating that get lost

  • There is no closure within our current digital communication models

  • Those that are more traditionally extroverted tend to be struggling with the fact that they aren’t getting the energy they are getting from face-to-face interactions with people

  • We are finding the more introverted people are enjoying working on their own, but where they are struggling is in the lines of communication—not having collective feedback

  • People’s confidence is down a little as they aren’t getting that tangible, physical support

Richard Henderson –

  • In the SME sector

  • To be perfectly frank I don’t think anyone has really worked it out yet

  • I think there is going to be an incredible shift where people won’t come back to work

  • One of the things we are doing with our clients is helping them to pivot

  • One thing that is going to be incredibly important is authenticity

  • Going back to the truths

  • Brand is going to be very important

  • Where the new space is: The Spatial

  • The fifth dimension

  • Zoom is now part of our dialogue

  • There is a whole other way of working now where you can feel the image, see the image, but it’s between a flat screen and your own expectations

  • A completely new space for brand

  • Fascinated by the idea of brand being intangible and the incredible emotional connection with a brand in that space between a flat screen and your mind

  • The new place of brand is in digital

  • There is nowhere to hide in this new technology (i.e. zoom) – you have to engage, and if you don’t you’ll be found out

  • Personal branding: what roles do individuals play within a organisation? How can they present themselves at complex problem solvers? What’s their value in organisations?

  • Negotiating the future and remaining relevant

  • How do you redefine yourself and provide leadership?

  • I learn so much from these conversations, it’s very helpful to be part of this dialogue that is unfolding

  • I’m an explorer, I’m out there and figuring out where to go next

Julie Ockerby –

  • Mark: Julie with your clients in the aged care space, have you seen that they are asking for a response to help build confidence or are they still trying to deal with an emergency?

  • Julie: I think they’re still in Stage 1 / Stage 2 of emergency response. There has been a lot of bad press, particularly one or two homes

  • Our clients are probably not the most forward thinking at the moment, but just trying to deal with the everyday

  • The aged care sector is in such an emotional spot at the moment – they’re dealing with families who can’t go and see their loved ones

  • The agenda at the moment is consumed with trying to isolate COVID-19

  • We are remodelling our offerings—which takes time

Julia Monk –

  • As locations have been hit, everything slows down

  • We had a couple of projects in China that have had a very slow heartbeat for a while, but over the last week they have instantly had a recovery and we are back in full gear on those

  • We have a big project in Belgrave, Serbia right now – the client is looking at this as an opportunity to proceed as quickly as they can

  • For a lot of our hospitality clients, the work they are doing across China is not slowing down at all

  • Things are starting to open back up – all the personal services in Hong Kong are coming back on Friday

  • Sparks are happening all over the world which is terrific

  • We haven’t had a new case in over 14 days in HKG

  • The news coming out of Australia and NZ is very promising

  • Hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard – occupancy was down to 40% due to the protests, and now down to basically 0% as no one is travelling

  • Taking the approach of ‘how can I help you?’ – I’ve ended up in a place where I have lots of time, so I am turning my attention to others, reaching out and caring

Dylan Brady –

  • The bandwidth of digital communication internationally has definitely sped up the way we are able to make decisions and interact with consultants and clients

  • We are making decisions much more rapidly, having shorter meetings more regularly

  • Progressing things in a really accessible way

  • The digital space has made meeting intricacies much simpler and more powerful

  • People are no longer going to want to commute

  • The way we gather, meet and exchange information is digitising

  • Why we gather is becoming much more important that how

  • There is reach that is now much bigger—I can now have a team in the meeting with me: seeing, learning and experiencing all the language and subtleties


Reference List:

Workplace - a project for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale about the past, present, and future of the office

Every Covid-19 Commercial is Exactly the Same by Sean Haney (aka Microsoft Sam)



Hosted by: Mark Bergin

Podcast Production: Pat Daly

Notes and Publication: Lucy Grant

© 2020 - an initiative of DRIVENxDESIGN