" THE MANY ME'S | Haines McGregor

The multiple identities of lockdown

If I hear the phrase ‘New Normal ’again, I think I might scream. Emerging from the forced enclosure of the last eighteen months, it’s hardly surprising that people are cautiously feeling their way. It’s a bit like someone just turned all the lights back on. When we were all sent home by the government, we found ourselves having to fill the gaps normally occupied by other people. In effect, we’ve had to create whole new versions of ourselves.

Looking for stability

There was a brilliant series during the 1980s that lampooned the repetitive mundanity of suburban corporate life, in which every day followed the predictable ritual of the last. This stultifying routine eventually drove Reginald Perrin to fake his own disappearance in order to find something different. The irony today is that we are searching for some kind of routine, pattern or predictability in a world with very few certainties.

The choices and brands that define us

Brands can help us to reaffirm, mostly to ourselves, what we believe in and to which tribe, or tribes, we belong. More than ever, the brands that can offer a clear sense of identity and purpose have the potential to build an emotional bridge and provide some sense of closeness and stability. When we buy things, it’s not so much a rational set of decisions, but more that we are effectively surrounding ourselves with the person we would like to be. Did anyone notice how often Olympic medalists used the phrase ‘best version of myself’? Well that’s pretty much what we as consumers are after as well, but in our case it’s what we watch on Netflix, where we go on holiday and what’s in the fridge that defines who we are; sadly, there are no medals for that.

Here are some of the personas we have had to stretch into and some of the brands that have helped us to embrace them:

Yoga Instructor

Surveys suggest that for spiritual health in the 2020’s, we turn to meditation and yoga. Established religion doesn’t quite cut it, and they have been slow to develop the tools to get their message out. But the internet is awash with mind, body and soul techniques. Yoga with Adrienne, offers lifestyle advice as well as online classes and boasts 7.8 million subscribers. She is followed by her devotees with an almost religious conviction.

Teacher

Home schooling has been the preference of many families in recent years, but having it imposed on us is something different altogether. The content of many courses we were familiar with from our own childhood have changed beyond recognition. The BBC have led the way, with its Bitesize program covering the national curriculum. But remote learning at universities such as the Open University, or Arden, have demonstrated a principle that may threaten the traditional brick and ‘mortarboard’ establishment universities. Having cut back on tutorial contact over many years there is little to differentiate the educational advantage of, for example, Russell group universities, who have favoured research projects over undergraduates for decades. There’s even talk amongst some students, whose sparse contact with tutors has left them feeling that they aren’t getting much in the way of value from universities, that they should get their money back.   

Therapist

Work can be stressful, but every year the time that sees a spike in cases of depression and anxiety is at Christmas, when people spend more time with their families. Reports of domestic conflict have sadly also soared in the last quarter, with many sufferers reluctant to seek help for fear of hospital infection. ‘Calm’ claims to be the number 1 app offering ways to reduce our anxiety and stress, offering tools to improve sleep, focus and overall self improvement. 

Doctor

We have all spent the last few months examining evidence and statistics relating to healthcare, in a way we never have before. Each new week brought new data and interpretations of symptoms.  We watched the geographic spread, the R rate or Hard immunity data like hawks. This is a genie that is unlikely to go back in its bottle. Further still, we have become accustomed to remote GP consultations and associated phenomena like home delivery of medicines. Options such as these are far more convenient than their predecessors.

Trainer

Fitness, diet and exercise have been as popular as ever. Notably in the early stages of ‘stay at home’, exercise was one of the few permitted escapes. It also encouraged increased levels of cycling and a sudden boom in cycle lanes. Joe Wicks, a British body coach, has cashed in on the availability of online workouts and holds the Guinness World Record for the most watched training sessions. Apps like Strava and Peleton, which looked like a mad concept when it launched in September 2018, has sold like a runaway train.

 And a few me’s that may not last…

  • NHS Cheerleader
  • TikTok choreographer
  • Cut-out football fan printer
  • Pub Quizzer

At HMc, we have developed a unique model which looks at consumer’s shifting identity drivers and helps bridge the gap between these and how your brand should ‘show up’ across touch-points, to better fit into your tribe’s life. 

For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us.