Naively, I see humanity as the brand that represents and underpins human behaviour. In 2022 I think humanity needs a rebrand. Not a skin-deep, image-driven chimera, but a full-on, root and branch re-think. A pivot, if you like.
Why now? Because if we don’t, we’ll go out of business; because the last two years have shown the worst, and the best of humanity and currently the worst is winning and the brand is in reverse. We produce so much, and deliver so little.
We have come to a place where every move we make, every turn we take, makes things worse, not better. We have darkened the skies, scorched the earth and spoiled the waters. We have murdered so much, and then turned on each other. As the BBC highlighted in this recent OXFAM report, we are unbalanced economically. Look at the latest WHO suicide statistics and you will agree we are unbalanced emotionally. We no longer recognise, let alone respect, what it is to be human.
Let’s review, revise and refresh the brand of humanity. The audience? Humans. So let’s treat this as a culture change programme as much as a rebrand – not just what we say, but how we say it, and how we behave as a result.
Building the Humanity brand model
Approaching this as I would with a client, I’m looking for what makes the humanity brand distinctive, relevant and desirable? We have lots to go on here, including our ability to reason, our creativity, our capacity for compassion and global connection, our reach beyond the planet. I’ll follow the model I usually use, and hope that more experienced and talented humans contribute – after all, as we’ve discovered with the current, contemptible global leadership, the quality of what comes out depends on the diversity and quality of what goes in.
First, what is our Vision for the brand? In these conversations, I ask clients what, beyond money, they hope to achieve. How will they leave the world in a better place? Let’s ask ourselves ‘why were we put on this earth and why should people care?’ In other words, what is our Purpose?
Suggestion: To be a successful guardian of our planet, for everyone and everything that exists on it.
Second, as a subtext of our Vision, what is our Mission? In other words, what do we get up in the morning for? How does what we do every day contribute to fulfilling our Vision?
Suggestion: To build the human capital to create harmony with each other and with our planet.
Third (here’s the tricky bit), can we distil our Vision and Mission into a one line Proposition? A proposition is useful for a few reasons; it disciplines us to be single-minded about the most important aspect of our brand – what our core offering is, what the idea is behind the brand. As a one-liner it’s easy to remember and can become ‘the thing by which we are known’; it can lead any briefing for follow-up communications. Because this is a disciplined, reductive process, propositions are hard to write, which is probably why so many clients don’t bother, preferring to list a series of ‘benefits’.
We now face a challenge, deciding what the key Values will be for the new brand. The temptation is to create an overlong list of clichés (or ‘FAT WORDS’ as my planning mate called them), probably including ‘Innovative’, ‘Partnership’, and ‘Honesty’. For me, brand values are worth sweating over. Together, they create a template for living; they are reference points for how we behave – what we should do and what we should not do. We could refer to the religions of the world, here, but frankly my lifetime’s experience of religion is that its organisation is full of evil and its output is hatred and death – consequently undermining the brand we are hoping to resurrect.
Suggestion: Compassion, Responsibility, Altruism
Let’s be greedy and separate our Values from our Personality. If Values provide a template for behaviour, our Personality describes the brand’s ‘style’. Literally, if we were a new human entering the room, what impression would we like to give?
Suggestion: Dynamic, Tolerant, Cosmopolitan
That’s about it. The next step is to discuss, refine, research, approve and implement. We will need workshops to discuss the implications for this new brand; what will we need to change? We will need proof points to underpin the proposition. We will need to communicate the new brand (innovation needs communication), decide how to measure success and how we will know if the new brand is having a positive impact.
In summary, I think the current brand of humanity can be discarded as an era called ‘modern society’. It was dependent on a misguided vision of ‘going somewhere’ and ‘growth’, which is no longer relevant to the vast majority of its human members and a disaster for the planet. As the institutions responsible for leading the current brand of ‘humanity’ disintegrate, we are at a critical point in the brand journey. I invite everyone to join this movement to create a radical new brand for humanity.