Maintaining Brand Voice in an Uncertain World
Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv
Angela Matusik has the great job of trying to determine what stories to tell through the voice of the HP brand. What is the brand’s personality, its philosophy, its purpose? At HP, the answer involves thinking about reinvention and the future – a concept that, today, is simultaneously top of mind and extremely difficult to think about. However, the concept of thinking about who you’re going to be down the road aligns directly with HP’s brand values, pandemic or no. So how do you stick to your brand storytelling guns when the world around you isn’t one you recognize anymore? HP was able to do just that with Dear Future Me. A documentary short film in two parts, Dear Future Me features both high school seniors opening their own prophetic letters and 6th graders writing to their future selves. In spite of difficulties surrounding production and where to place producorial focus during the pandemic, the results of this two-part doc from HP are surprising, engaging, emotional and most of all, heartwarming, demonstrating that when a brand’s storytelling leads with its own values, there will always be something to relate to, even in the most difficult of times.
Dear Future Me and its exploration of what happens when a group of middle and high schoolers read and write letters to their future selves resonates deeply with what we’re going through as a society and what our perception of the future is. Matusik and HP have managed to establish a keen sense of brand identity for HP with its relationship to interpersonal connection and imagined futures. Last year, HP’s The Garage produced History of Memory in partnership with Redglass Pictures. For Dear Future Me, Redglass was brought on again to do what they do best – capture the humanity of the stories The Garage wants to tell.
When it came to telling a new story in the midst of the Coronavirus, Matusik found inspiration at home when her daughter was tasked at school with writing a letter to her future self. The idea appealed to Angela - the notion of doing a time-capsule activity during such a pivotal time – and became the focus of the documentary. The combination of young, honest, insightful students sharing their thoughts about the future and the way life has been affected by COVID elicited emotions that aligned perfectly with HP’s values.
Education is also a touchpoint for HP and is in focus during a moment when schooling is a daily problem in need of solving. The intersectionality of schools relying on tech driven products and HP’s desire to tell personal, human stories puts the experience of school during a pandemic right at the center of an ideal brand story for this brand to tell.
The final result is a film duo that puts a spotlight on caring about the future, kids, and education, all focuses valuable to the brand despite the difficulties plaguing each focus. The period of coronavirus has presented an opportunity for everyone to reflect, making introspection and visions of the future universal to our collective experience. Dear Future Me taps into the notion that we are all made of hopes and dreams, and the idea that this is a singular opportunity to think about these things.
Despite the upending of normalcy by Coronavirus, brand storytellers like Angela are finding their footing when it comes to maintaining brand voice in a way that acknowledges our collective circumstance while still achieving messaging goals. In the case of these films, people can watch Dear Future Me and recall that they or their children did something like their own time capsule or letter to themselves growing up. The difference that it’s now happening during an unprecedented time and experience becomes simultaneously central and anecdotal, as the real focus is on the self-invention and visions of the future the kids had / have for themselves. This is the beauty of leading with an internally established brand ethos ahead of creating content: seeking out, finding, and being able to tell the stories that, despite the tumult, are a great fit for values foundational to your brand.
About Jordan Kelley
Jordan Kelley is the Content Director at BrandStorytelling.tv. He's an essayist, editor, and observer intent on mapping new media trends and disseminating the most relevant information in the world of branded content. Jordan is a lover of stories and an avid consumer of new media.