Back to the most unusual blog about brand communication. My Love Brand, my favorite brand chosen for this blog, is a seahorse. I met it almost two years ago in a zoo, a year ago I took over its sponsorship and named it Willi. Okay, actually I affectionately said »Horse Feed« to him, which is why I named the blog that. That’s how it started. So much has happened since then: So much that a Love Brand can experience, learn, amuse or shock. Today’s article is about how Willi mobilizes his team to finally get out of his crisis: with social skills and perfect timing. What else should a seahorse use…
In any case,
actions are better than chatter.
Only media see it differently.
I rush past the seaweed and wonder if there are people in Asia who not only grow this impressive source of energy in their underwater fields as a side salad for seahorse schnitzel. Or in the west? Dear people, are you intelligent or hungry? Ah, now I know it again: you’re afraid of something new because of the unpredictable setbacks, right?
I don’t have time to deal with the answer. Honest. As I said, I hurry. It was only a few centimeters ago when I hovered directly opposite my godfather. I thought I saw him bite off his gingerbread again before I turned.
So hungry, the folks.
And so my stomach is calling. Not that I’m starving and trying to try a bite of seaweed. My stomach just got used to regular, generous meals. It was the sweet dessert of my success. Our success. The Love Brand rocked.
For Those About To Rock … We Salute You.
Well, there they came back, the hard rockers in me. Every inch I move away from my godfather and get closer to my team, I hear the inner hard rock getting louder. As if the band inside me was asking for encore, not the fans. Does my deepest understanding of culture want to tell me that I haven’t shown everything yet, that I can add more?
Willi wants. Under no circumstances Willi want to leave the stage just because some people out there believe that they willfully have to tear it down. But what if my team is afraid of it? What if the fear of setbacks is greater than the motivation to develop the Love Brand together?
Only where is life on stage
there are also fans in front
Fear begins in the head, courage too
The answer reveals itself to me in a short, almost snappy dialogue in the team. The Methuselah seahorse in the team, the most experienced and probably therefore the most critical, speaks out.
»When do we begin?«
»How?« I feel doubt. I can feel how his RAM works and scans the hard drive for known scenarios.
»As a Love Brand. Honestly, it seems to me that we only started to become a Love Brand a few weeks ago. Now there is a bit of trouble out there and we are disconnecting.«
Confused silence. Then our most rational team member answers.
»Do we have fans?«
»We still have some, for sure. Do you have any ideas which new fans we can win in the current situation?«
»We are in a very difficult time, in a very strong crisis. My analysis shows…«
»That it is exactly the right time to position yourself consciously,« I interrupt when he begins to draw a line in the sand, on the one hand shells for each argument and on the other hand the show stopper stones to collect.
I am motivated to the tip of the tail. Also convinced. My expectation is that everyone immediately moves into position and performs as it should. But nothing happens.
Stop, that’s not right.
»Good luck,« says the experienced one again. And turns away. I have rarely seen a more obvious »thank you for the interview«. The other three find it difficult to take a position, I can see that. To whom does solidarity apply? The team? An individual? The overarching goal? Our principles and values as a Love Brand?
Thank you, I say quietly to myself and feel alone. Lost. A gingerbread loving person is my last chance. Well, better than nothing in a whirl of feelings dominated by frustration and anger.
Torn between staying and snapping or leaving and howling, I find that my godfather is still on the glass. I swim towards him, avoid eye contact because I feel caught. Caught as failed. If the raised index finger comes now, if someone presses the wrong button on me … I swear guys, you have never seen a seahorse freaking out.
When I’m back at the window, I find out the full extent of the crisis: As far as I can see, the fish in the other aquariums have also hid. Nobody to be seen. I look into an artificially staged reef landscape. Word got around and had an effect. We hid first – now everyone else is joining.
What a great stage for quality products like me. Only when there is no life on stage are there no fans in front of it. I don’t need to be a scientist to understand this logic.
In the places where the masses were last crowded, partly because of us, there is now only one. And he doesn’t hold up a fan poster, but a gingerbread cookie.
The hardest thing about a crisis is to show understanding for all concerned, to be understood yourself and understand
what it’s about.
About the team.
Use socio-communicative competence
He wants to know what happened. He asked where my enthusiasm had gone. It is only still in the seaweed, I answer and can not even laugh at my own jokes. But of course I tell him about the skeptical reactions a few moments ago.
»Are they worried? Are they curious? Do they want to know better or do they possibly give you hidden clues as to which path they would take?«
»I have the impression that they broke with the Love Brand idea and are looking for alternatives.«
»What keeps you from being the alternative?«
»It’s not that easy, my friend. I always thought that marketing yourself was the best application,« I reply and don’t see the slightest bit why I should answer his questions. Can’t be that everything always depends on me.
»Willi, we’ve got it through: it depends on what you make of it … and how you do it.«
So everything depends on me. Congratulations.
»Do you know empathy?«
»Not personally, why?«
»Difficult situations require your socio-communicative competence.«
»Socio-what?«, don’t bla again please, I think, better do something. Or at least put it in such a way that a pitiable seahorse like me understands.
»Do they warn or unsettle you?«
I leave the question as it is and have an effect on me.
»Where’s your empathy gone? Where is your willingness to recognize, understand and understand the sensations, thoughts, motives and personality traits?«
Empathy. Pah. I’m worried about my future. Who actually feels with me right now?
»I understood that you were frustrated. I know myself that you cannot be an entertainer, motivator or leading figure in the current situation. Such unwelcome emotions need space. Nothing you say now will take the fear away from you or your team.«
»Well, the best thing to do now is to shut up for the »Horse Feed«.«
You’re a help to me, my friend. Tell me frankly that it doesn’t really matter what I say now.
Swim against the current called mainstream
»Maybe a few deeds would be better than loose chatter anyway … what would you like to do right now?«
»Crabs. Until I burst – then the topic is finally settled and we all step off the stage with a big bang. The curtain falls and the light goes out.«
As if by magic, a few crabs come into the pool at this moment. I tentatively reach for one, chew, swallow, think. I watch the others in the team do the same.
»Come on we play a a game called »If I were you…««, the godfather suggests.
»Okay, I start: If I were you, I would stop coaching blah and take responsibility. For me. Go get more crabs!«
»I agree. On one condition: If I were you, I would take responsibility for myself and understand that you cannot change the world, but your attitude towards it would. If I were you, I would gather my courage and swim against the current. Rock it!«
Wait, that was two tasks. But before I can complain about this unfair return carriage, the godfather turns away with a wave. In the runaway he was always much faster than me.
What should I do? Not even if I wanted to swim away I would get far.
Against the current, that’s actually nothing new for a Love Brand. The current can even be named, it is called »mainstream«, heard of it, right?
Hm … As it looks out here, everyone is swimming in the mainstream. Except me.
I admit, I cheat. Contrary to the rules of the game, »If I were you,…«, I resist the task and swim up and down haphazardly for the next few minutes, at least to reduce my inner destructive rage.
I mean, it always sounds so logical: show yourself when the others don’t and you will be seen easier and better. But it is a fact that hardly anyone does it. To be more precise – nobody.
Good timing alone is not enough; good ideas are also needed.
Wait a minute, something pop in my mind. So an idea, to be precise. While my godfather is doing his job well, I try to talk to my team. Not in a group, with each one individually. What I have learned is the following: Treat everyone the way they want to be treated. Roar »F**k« is allowed when it comes to the matter. And what else should it be about? About my ego? Guys, I’m asking you … We still have a crisis!
Oh, and we have a Love Brand. With this thing-competence. Social and communicative. You know.
What can I tell you? The Love Brand finally goes back on stage – as a team. Because we are our greatest critics ourselves.
Dealing with a crisis is ultimately a matter of type. So what are we afraid of?
»If I were you, I would deal with the term »empathy« a little more intensely …«.
The hardest thing about a crisis is not assessing it correctly or predicting the consequences. It is also not difficult to find the causes of it or to find a guilty person in the end. The most difficult thing is to have an understanding for everyone concerned, to be understood by yourself or to have understood what is at stake. Everyone can determine the timing for communication in a crisis. Learning suffering is part of the process of recreating yourself. Willi experienced that himself today. Just as that it is not about fundamentally questioning the Love Brand in such situations. It’s about reviewing known mechanisms, getting the team involved, and getting everyone involved. Before a crisis, especially during a crisis, and of course afterwards. That motivates immensely. And motivated brands are at least as much in demand as their socio-communicative competence.