We need more Long again (after lots of short)

By Wilmar Alex Tax, 20 May 2020

Short term thinking might have saved some of us, but we need to turn back to adding long

Luctor et emergo
In the past couple of months we have all been on a rollercoaster ride. Businesses have trying to make ends meet, survive, brands have taken their societal role, creativity has exploded, people have been unleashing, but we’re also constantly struggling, physically and mentally. I am writing in the past sense, but of course it is still very much part of our reality and will be for a quite some time. But still it does remind me of the seal of the Province of Zeeland with the inscription “Luctor et Emergo” [I struggle and emerge], which is both dramatic and hopeful.

1.5 meter society
At the same time some countries, sectors, collectives, individuals are taking or getting the opportunity to think about the longer term in the 1,5 meter society as our Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is calling it. Whether it’s the hairdressers who have opened their online reservation system to start making the Netherlands less 70s all around, hospitals who are trying to get the regular care up and running a bit or it’s the on trade is trying to think of ways to re-open, like for example Dutch steak chain Loetje shows in this video. That’s why I am also glad many of course clients are already making plans for the oncoming months and year.

Short still needs Long
Of course there is lots of buts and ifs, but that doesn’t relieve us of the responsibility to think long term or at least mid term. We need to keep being flexible and agile in coping with new realities emerging every month, week, sometimes every day, and a longer term plan will make sure at least you’re prepared. To simply state the world is changing too rapidly is not a good excuse.

Humble ask
So, if you’re noticing you are gaining a bit more mind space to think about the (near) future, I call upon you to start anchoring more mid term planning into your short term plans. The Long and the Short by Peter Field and Les Binet is still a fundamental way to build your brand and company, by both concentrating on - in Covid-19 days - short term survival activity and longer term strategy.

Some questions that might help trigger your brain:

  1. What’s the role of my brand or company in society and has a natural fit with my brand truth? You need to make sure your brand’s relevancy is both in sync with society and with your brand core. Otherwise it’s either not relevant or not believable.

  2. What gives me the right to earn attention both long and short term? Why and when and how is your message relevant for your audience is still important to ask yourself, now of course within the context of the new reality. Because we don’t want to add more waste to an already overcrowded communication landscape.

  3. How can I make this earned attention bigger through owned and paid channels? Thinking in earned helps to make your message razor sharp, because you’re not taking for granted that you put paid media behind. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t put paid media behind it, once the message gets traction; quite the opposite actually.

  4. How can I unlock or unleash people who like or love the brand - both internal and external - to help me spread the relevant word? Make sure you focus on people who will stick with you long term and not on opportunistic people who just want to make a quick buck and the next day promote your competitors brand.

Let’s all try to make room for our Long and our Short.

Stay healthy, sane and a bit foolish


Wilmar Alex Tax

Head of Strategy & Creative at HPB (Het PR Bureau)

HPB is a progressive creative agency for earned first marketing and reputation. We want to create and spread meaningful earned first communication together with our strong long lasting relationships with journalists, media, partners and stakeholders. Let us know in case you have any queries on this blog or otherwise.