Design for the interim normal

Sander Bos
Over the past few weeks, we have posted photographs by colleague and photographer Judith based on the theme 'retail and hospitality in coronavirus times'. The photos explore how retail and hospitality are dealing with the measures to contain the spread of coronavirus and, in particular, how they are communicated and implemented. The photo series showed some fun and inspiring solutions, but also more than that.
Since March, a series of restrictive measures was introduced in rapid succession. This meant people had to respond quickly and make use of the resources available. In this sense, the coronavirus outbreak has shown how resourceful and creative we are. Some solutions were more effective than others, and colours like red and white were sometimes overrepresented and the tone perhaps a bit too strict, but the intentions were good. Apparently, controlling human behaviour is not rocket science. All you have to do is observe, ask yourself questions and think logically.

With the initial shock of the pandemic behind us, we are now adjusting to a new interim normal. A phase in which, according to prime minister Mark Rutte, 'we have to transition to a 1,5-metre society'. A phase in which the restrictive measures are gradually lifted as we adjust to the 'new normal'. Hopefully, this new normal is just a temporary situation rather than our new reality, because I am not ready to face up to the possibility of having to live in a society designed to slow down the spread of viruses.

The past few weeks have made it more and more clear that habits and behaviours are persistent — once formed, they are very hard to break. This takes time and resources. In this interim phase, which we have no choice but to live through, let's focus on these resources instead of focussing on banning behaviour. After all, a positive approach tends to produce much better results than a negative one. Let's focus on ensuring the right message is being conveyed at the right time in the right place. A message that dovetails with your brand, and the formula and identity of your organisation. In terms of colour, form, and above all, tone. This is more appealing for your customers and better for your brand. Meanwhile, we will think about ways to further increase effectiveness and we may even come up with great ideas for the 'new normal’ - or simply for a time when everything is behind us.
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