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Headsup! The Future Is Now.... What is FUN?

headsup! the future is now.

The pandemic continues stubbornly stick around. Remaining optimistic for the future - there are some positive signs.

What is FUN?

photo courtesy of Stylus

At Studio H2G we start every project with one of our headstogether sessions. These workshop sessions have a strong value proposition when working with retail brands - they compress the time, they are creative sessions, and then encourage a high level of collaboration. For us they are key to starting any new project. These sessions are highly collaborative with intense open dialogue. We work to imagine the future of a brand. We discuss current trends, consumer behaviors and brand meaning. So what does all this have to do with FUN? Well to some the headstogether session I just described might sound fun to others complete drudgery (to me they are F-U-N!). Well that’s the point! Fun is a word we all use and we all believe we have a shared understanding of the meaning of the word but in reality the concept of fun is highly personal. We each experience fun in our own unique way - while we have a shared general understanding of the concept of fun we each define it on a personal level ... and it’s really hard to separate yourself from creating a brand defined “fun” experience! Nearly every headstogether session we have ever had at some point a brand owner will exclaim - “I want the brand to be fun!” Literally every brand we have ever worked with some form of that sentence is uttered in a headstogether session. It does not matter what sector the brand is in or whether or not some form of “fun” is part of the meaning of the brand. Not every brand can be “FUN” ... or can they?

The challenge then becomes defining fun for that brand. This is where fun starts to get tricky and requires more in-depth work. As I said early we all have a shared understanding of fun as concept but what is actually fun is personal to each of us as individuals. In the context of brands often fun is interchanged with the idea of leisure. Leisure is not the same. A recent article on US news website Vox vocalized the sense of disconnect: “Leisure is not the same as fun, but it can be a kind of vessel for it.” We’ve explored examples of this concept in earlier posts for example the Frick museum in NY that created Cocktails With a Curator - virtual happy hours with a museum curator. How many of us have tried to use a little leisure time to bake or do a jigsaw puzzle during the pandemic?

photo courtesy of J Dugas | Stylus

Regardless of how well we define or not concept of FUN brand owners will continue to state that they want their brand to be FUN! What we encourage brands to do drill down deep in their brand meaning and brand potential to find unique ways of expressing emotions around fun - light heartedness, playfulness, joy, a little cheeky, etc. It’s important to find what is unique to your brand how is it different from others in it’s market place - without that you’ll be competing on a rational scale instead of the emotional scale. We all know that consumers make stronger connections to brands when they connect emotionally.

As brands look to the future and a post pandemic world - we shifting our focus around FUN to alignment with what is real in consumers lives and balance. There can be possible pitfalls around FUN as many consumers express meta-emotions - feelings of guilt while experiencing enjoyment in our new normal. Combining pleasure and altruism offers a way forward.

Nicholas Christakis compares our current context with the 1920s in his book Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Corona Virus on the Way We Live, published in October. “During epidemics, you get increases in religiosity, people become more abstentious, they save money, they get risk averse and we’re seeing all of that now, just as we have for hundreds of years during epidemics.”

Brands must really focus on defining their unique meaning and potential - if a brand can do that there is no doubt FUN can be a part of a brand!

Looking forward to more discovery + innovation!

Julie Dugas

One of the Heads

Studio | H2G

I’m one of the heads at Studio | H2G - I’m not a writer (which you may have picked up on quickly!) I am passionate about the business of retail, consumer behavior, trends and conversations around that thinking.

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