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Haiku, COVID-19, Bandwagons, and Seize The Days

April 7, 2020

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI have a blogger friend named Ashi Akira. He writes haikus. I love his work.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Sometimes I’ll read one of his haikus and an image will jump into my head.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Like this one. (click to enlarge)blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Sparrows in tree discussing world globe word balloons one bird asleep haiku Ashi Akira

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highI encourage you to visit his site. His backstory, what he saw as a child, is riveting. Unlike anything else you’ve read.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I created a short video for another of his haikus, which you can see here.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Ashi’s published two collections of his haikus. They’re available at both Amazon and Lulu.com.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

We are, of course, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Doing the above illustration prompted a few thoughts about same.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Anybody else tired of all the COVID-19-related posts and emails from brands? There’s a bandwagon quality to it. Every brand feels obliged to say something. They don’t want to appear insensitive or oblivious to the pandemic. So they churn out virus-related content, regardless of whether it’s helpful.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I loved what Jodi Harris said in a recent CMI post:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Could painstaking descriptions of the steps your brand is taking to protect the community come off as pointless or opportunistic? Sure. Are there also risks for saying nothing? Absolutely.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

If you’re going to say something, make it matter. That’s at
the heart of all content marketing – create content that your audience would find (helpful) and that is relevant to your brand.

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highShe gave some examples of brands doing it right.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I’d never heard of Two Bit Circus. It’s an interactive amusement park out in Los Angeles. They “take escape rooms into the future… with immersive stories and a keen focus on group interaction…
Our fully themed interactive environments will have you piloting spaceships, looting dungeons, and even performing surgeries…”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Beam me out there, Scotty– I’m ready!!blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

They’re a hip, youth-oriented “fun” brand, so their brand voice is “rah-rah, smart-aleck humor.” They had to close their physical space because of the coronavirus, but they stayed true to their brand/voice/image by posting the following on their site:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

CLOSING FOR NOW. THE SHOW MUST… HELP FLATTEN THE CURVE!…blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Here are some things you can do at home to recreate the Two Bit Circus experience:blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Make a cardboard arcade of your own. That 72-pack of toilet paper you bought from a scalper came in a box just the right size to make a brilliant carnival game for the whole family…blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Create your own escape room! “Escape from Quarantine” is maybe a bit too on-the-nose, but use your judgement…blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Get the gang together for drinks over Skype. The recipe for a Quarantini is… the same as a Martini, except you drink it alone.

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highWhat they did: they acknowledged the virus and its impact (OK, they pretty much had to), but they helped their audience with their smart-aleck humor– because laughter is a potent weapon against despair. They did it in a way that’s true to their brand and voice. And that’s doing it right.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

One of the best brand responses to the pandemic, IMO, comes from Udemy.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Udemy is a global online learning platform. They specialize in teaching specific skills. You purchase courses and learn at your own pace. They offer 150,000 courses in over 65 languages. Categories include Finance & Accounting, Programming, Business, Software, Design, Marketing, Photography, Fitness, Music, and more.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I’m on their mailing list because I bought one of their guitar courses.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

A few days ago, I received an email from them that said:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

In these uncertain times, many Udemy students are facing unprecedented challenges. Our mission to improve lives through learning has become more important than ever before…blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

This week, we released the Udemy Free Resource Center, a curated collection of more than 150 free Udemy courses to
help students adapt to working from home, search for a job, maintain balance, and more. We will continue to add new courses on an ongoing basis.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

We hope these courses provide you with some guidance and support during these difficult times.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

I’ve scrolled thru all 150 free courses. It’s a great collection– something there for everybody. Please do take a look. It’s a beautiful example of a brand providing real value in response
to a crisis.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

One last thought:blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Most of us are working from home– or not working at all. We
have this unexpected time. It can be a source of stress, or… we
can choose to see it as a gift and try to use it wisely.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

We can take courses (see above). Other options: check out Trent Hamm’s post, 25 Simple, Free Things To Do While Stuck at Home.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

But we can also use the time to reflect: how we live our lives, what’s really important, how we treat others. The Big Questions.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Full disclosure: I’m a practicing Catholic. I don’t believe God causes evil. I don’t believe He caused this pandemic. I do believe He has the power to bring good out of evil.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Some of that good probably hinges on our pondering what the pandemic has to teach us. I think that’s worth pondering no matter what your faith tradition, or whether you have one or not.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Just a thought, FWIW, offered in a spirit of good will.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

*       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *    blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, editorial, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Jay Moye global editor-in-chief coca-cola company

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2020 8:18 PM

    Excellent post! I very much agree that brands (and people) need to avoid the kind of content that is pointless or opportunistic. I also want to gag when I see people who post pictures of themselves wearing face masks and telling everyone that they have to wear one or they are going to ‘kill granny’. Virtue signalling at its worst…

    Like

    • April 13, 2020 7:18 AM

      Ha! Thanks, Margy, well said. What we need is more virtue, and less virtue signaling. Always a pleasure, thanks for stopping by! 😊

      Like

  2. April 18, 2020 10:47 PM

    Glad you’re doing well. I’ve been working from home since our employer shut off direct walk in access for public since Mar. 12.

    I look forward to more observations during this devastating, far-reaching global event.

    Like

    • April 19, 2020 2:44 PM

      Hi Jean, great to see you, glad to know you’re well despite being forced into work-from-home mode like so many others. I feel a little guilty. The situation doesn’t seem that odd to me– I’ve been working from home and “self-isolating” for years! Can you still get out for bike rides, I hope? Nothing like a bike for pumping out some social distance! Cheers, and hang in there! 🚴👍

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 20, 2020 2:23 PM

        Sure, if weather is not snowy (it has been in prairies), a bike ride, even if short is a great cheery things to do. I recommend it to anyone. Yes, you certainly have been self isolating for a long time, but social distancing with your humour! Making human connections. 🙂

        Like

        • April 21, 2020 8:29 AM

          Ha! We’ve been getting some snow here, too– the fun kind: it coats the trees and creates a winter wonderland in the morning, and then melts during the day– my kinda snow! Many thanks for your kind words, Jean. I think you’ve reframed humor in a way that’s very telling right now: it can eliminate social distance even tho the exchange takes place between people who have to maintain their (physical) social distance. I like it!! 👍😊

          Liked by 1 person

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