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Unprecedented UNCERTAINTY

If you find yourself reading anything by someone who claims to know exactly how the world will have changed by the time things get ‘back to normal’, here’s my advice.


Nobody knows.

Governments don’t know how long they’ll need to keep the restrictions in place.

Healthcare services don’t know if they’ve done enough to be ready for the peak.

Economists don’t know how long this recession is going to last.

Businesses don’t know which will come first, their losses turn back to profits or they run out of cash.

Marketing people don’t know how attitudes and behaviour are going to change, beyond how they have changed in the last month.

And nobody knows when there’ll be a vaccine - or even whether that ‘when’ should be an ‘if’.

All of which means everyone is having to live with (it really is the only word) unprecedented uncertainty. And for many of us that’s a pretty uncomfortable place to be.

It’s particularly uncomfortable for commentators who like to come across as supremely confident about everything. All those people who immediately know who’s right and who’s wrong, what’s good and what’s bad, what to do and what not to do.

They are still out there, peddling their predictions of the ‘new normal’, despite the fact most of us are only half way through our second or third week of lockdown.

What’s actually happened is our own individual worlds of need have been turned on their heads.

Put it another way, our good old Maslow hierarchy of needs triangle has flipped and crashed point-first into the ground.

So what’s showing now above the surface is our physiological needs - food, water, air, warmth, rest.

Just below/above that, and clearly visible, is our need for Safety - physical, economic and psychological. That’s where most of us are at the moment.

So that’s the world that we in marketing now need to understand. The different expressions of Safety that exist in your brand’s world.


On safe ground.

In safe hands.

Safety in numbers.

Safe in the knowledge.

Keep a safe distance.

Safety in kindness.

Escape to safety.

The safety in silence.

Better that than trying to predict how this movie is going to end. The scariest thought is if it doesn’t have an ending.

Or it does but we then find out it’s the start of a new franchise.

Avengers, re-assemble.

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