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Why are so many insisting on talking about the new normal as if it has nothing to do with our old normal? Everything is connected. What was abruptly taken away from us at the start of 2020 will never again be taken for granted. Millions of people were isolated for a long time, and none of us will forget easily.

Everything becomes noticeable by its absence, and this can evoke the need for something much more profound than what was there in the first place. During the pandemic lockdowns over the past year, we all did a lot of new things to replace the old things that were abruptly taken away from us — more virtual connections to replace face-to-face connections; more videos to replace other entertainments; more online shopping to replace in-store shopping; more take-home and delivery to replace on-premise and in-person; and so forth.

But even as we did all of these new things, and digital mature brands flourished because of it, the longing for deeper connections has also been growing. We see this in the aftermath of our lockdowns. For some months everyone was talking about the new normality that awaits us. But as I see it, the new normal is not about something new, it’s about taking back the old. Old school is hotter than ever. Philosophy is back. Morals and ethics are no longer nice to have, it’s a must-have. Since the outbreak and the pandemic, we see the urgency and demands for brands doing things right. In the old days, they built products to last. Technology changed that, nowadays things are built for change. And what is happening is interesting.

As choices and options reopened, people ran back to what they did before rather than sticking with the new things that they were doing during the lockdowns. People missed a lot of what was taken away, and many people missed these things so much that they have been willing to throw caution to the wind at the first opportunity to go back. Even further back from where they came from. Overnight, living your best days became more important than co-living with the status quo. Something happened with the mainstream.

In our business; the world of brands, we are seeing organizations everywhere, from geographical whereabouts to industries and segments, all insisting on using the word HUMAN to brand their purpose. Shaping or building the future they say, as few seem to be happy with the future they are currently living in. Today everyone wants to contribute to the future. So what used to be a reserved space for industry disruptors is now becoming the standard. The more technology is gaining territory, the more we see human values and deeper connections on the rise. If a brand is not engaging in adding value to the future, bringing integrity to the table, it will not survive for long in this new normal.

So, much of the talk about the post-pandemic new normal should be less about what is actually new, and more about recycling old values. For me, this is a powerful motivator; in going even further back in history to find value without a best before date. The future looks a lot more like the good old greek days when philosophy and honesty ruled.

Rana Eshtiagh