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Monday, August 17, 2020

Culture Over COVID


1) Culture Over COVID


One of the most asked questions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic (aside from, “What have you watched on Netflix?”) has been about what our ‘new normal’ will look like. For many, 2020 on the whole has been a series of adapting to ‘new normals’. It’s also been a year of simply learning to grapple with uncertainty. Now that lots of folks have had ample time to settle into a routine of working from home, yet another ‘new normal’ (“new-new?”) rears its head: returning to offices.

With returning to offices, there are a lot of forces at play, and a balance must be found. Employees want to feel safe and be assured their employer is doing all it can to keep them safe. They want to feel that the workspace provided is positive and clean. Meanwhile, employers obviously want to keep their employees safe and reassure them, but still retain their company’s personality and uniqueness amid mandated boilerplate health and safety messaging. As a creative agency, we feel that feel. We decided that it was up to us to help our clients control the COVID conversation.

 

2) Maintain Your Brand -> Reassure Your Employees


As a branding agency, we at Second Melody are no strangers to flexing our creative muscles in unique ways. With our Culture Over COVID initiative, we’re working closely alongside our clients to help them: 1) discover optimal ways to reestablish a working environment that’s reassuring to employees, and 2) maintain their brand’s personality while delivering important messaging that is compliant with state and internal safety regulations. By extending our client’s brands through COVID-19 related materials and messaging, they maintain their office’s culture and make employees feel welcomed and safe.


When office signage looks and sounds like your company, the transition back into the office feels less intimidating.


Think of it this way. 

  • A single, lonely 8½” x 11” sheet of printer paper is scotch taped up near the bathroom. This page is the primary source of critical information and it is absolutely bursting with text on virtually every topic related to COVID-19, your office, and your safety.


Alternatively,

  • Strategically placed around the workspace are a series of eye-catching, on-brand signs, stickers, and window clings. They inform employees with key messaging at specific points throughout the office. Not only is its information catering to the space, it’s coming directly from the mouth of the company. It’s intentional.


That’s the biggest difference in our eyes: intentionality. Even in states where safety notices are not required, it’s still good practice to have clear signage with reminders and information for staff readily available. And while every state will provide varying safety messaging, the difference between an employer simply posting what they’re provided versus making an effort to display branded signage, is the intention. These messages regarding employee safety are now coming directly from the employer and are tailored to those it’s speaking to.


Even if a message is a simple reminder to wash your hands, it’s coming from a more personable place. It’s coming from your company looking out for you. Not to mention, it’s legible, branded, and not robotic. Sorry .gov sites, your messaging is wack.


3) Familiar Spaces -> New Questions


While signage informing staff or reminding them of office etiquette is important, we’re also finding ourselves asking questions about our workspaces that we may not have ever asked before. You know that one conference room everyone avoids? Yeah, that one. Well now, you have to actually think about how people interact with that space. How many occupants are allowed inside? Is the space outside it large enough to accommodate people safely, or will 1-way signs be required? Now consider something like a stairwell or elevator: will these be marked off? Are they limited to a certain number of passengers?


These are all important questions that must be asked and considered before inviting staff back into the office. As we work directly with our clients on this granular level, we select signage and messaging specific to the space based on what gets the job done, to deliver important information and reminders at specific junctures. These are some of the questions we’d have you ask yourselves, too.


4) Welcome Back -> We’ve Missed You


So maybe your office is prepping to come back or are looking to return in the very near future. Another route we’re taking with Culture Over COVID is to set employees up with Welcome Back Kits or Work From Home Survival Kits. To give employees a little something fun and helpful, a branded kit can be created and kept on their desks. These Welcome Back Kits have included things like hand sanitizer, a new mousepad, facemasks, stickers, and more: all branded and unique to the company. For our Survival Kits, we include more of the same, but send them to employees to be ready before entering the office. Pairing both of these kits with a welcoming note and messaging around something good to know, like the office cleaning process, is an uplifting way to be personable and lighten the mental and emotional strain of returning to the office. Plus, who doesn’t like free stuff? We sure do.


5 Keep your culture -> Keep employees safe


Our hope is that with your reading of this, you realize that making the office feel a bit more friendly and like home, goes a long way. If you’re required to have safety signage posted, why not make it a bit more legible and match your company’s branding. Even if your company has its own messaging it wants to post, take the time to ensure it’s on-brand, engaging, and placed with intention. That forethought goes the extra mile with employees showing them that their safety is priority #1 and keeps elements of your brand prevalent, even during uncertain times. 



Written by Luke Hall, Brand Strategist | Second Melody secondmelody.com


Second Melody is a branding studio specializing in identity development, messaging, customer engagement, website design, collateral creation and user experience. Our mission is to make the world a more beautiful place while helping our clients solve problems by building better, stronger and more inclusive brands that accurately represent their visions, passions and business goals.


But mostly the world being a more beautiful place thing.


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