Context is everything, as clearly depicted in the funny campaign for Ameriquest Mortgage Company. With attention and critical thinking scarce, the fast-paced environment of startups can often forget this critical rule of communication.
Context is defined as “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.”
Case in point: the 2017 situation involving two travelers, a United Airlines flight, and leggings. Supposedly the two passengers were traveling on a company travel pass which comes with some terms and conditions. They were denied boarding due to their attire. When a bystander overheard only a portion of the incident with the gate agent, it quickly turned into something that it wasn’t. It even prompted Delta Airlines to immediately tweet a dig at United, further muddying the waters.
Brands are not robotic entities that seem to float in our subconscious. They’re made up of people. And as people, we all have a responsibility for the energy we bring to a situation whether we realize it or not. As a startup, you need to consider the context of everything you do. Whether it’s communicating with your team or your audience, slowing down enough to consider context is what creates empathy.
I recently had a client meeting where we reviewed an entire messaging campaign along with it’s various pieces. We (the team I collaborated with and myself) had done a great job at considering all angles of context for the audience. We truly created a sense of empathy with the messaging and the medium. However, the client just couldn’t seem to get to the same place. By the end of the meeting, what started as an emotional and creative campaign for a specific audience was nitpicked into a bland and uniform campaign for the client. They were unable to step outside of their perspective to see how the context of the message and how it’s consumed by the audience made for a powerful campaign.
A mindful framework to brand strategy means considering context every step of the way. It seeks to understand that which matters to the brand and the people who surround it. A mindful framework for building a brand knows nothing is inherently valuable by itself. It’s context that creates meaning.