God Save the Brands 👑

“The Queen has just died”, my colleague posted in the chat.

Nobody said anything, and the meeting continued, business as usual until the chair eventually spoke up: “Did someone say the Queen has died? It’s a pity the last face she saw was Liz Truss.”

I kept re-reading his words, and for the rest of the meeting lost focus.

Maybe it was shock, the Keep Calm and Carry On British thing. I wasn’t expecting a two-minute silence but making a joke of it felt hugely disrespectful.

I had one thought running through my mind.

I don’t want to work with people who don’t respect the Queen. A wife, a mother, a woman, and a fantastic role model who served her country for 70 years — the Queen who almost wasn’t…

Just two days earlier, she was on her feet welcoming Liz Truss as our new PM — her last official duty before she died. That must have had a huge impact on Liz Truss.

Maybe she feels a sense of honour and obligation to carry that legacy. I felt that in the speeches she gave this week.

Flashbulb memories. We remember where we were when big things happened.

When Diana died in 1997, I was in my tiny room in Maidstone, glued to my portable TV. I’d just started my first job in telly at the Maidstone Studios, and my landlady was a huge fan of the Royal Family — she had mugs and memorabilia all over the house. She came home from work, and we sat staring at the screen, drinking endless cups of tea.

After the Zoom call, I lit a candle and went to the shop to buy a chocolate cake, ate two pieces for dinner, had a bit of a cry, and watched the news.

The following day, I had a text from a client asking if I could do a social about the Queen. Why the rush? Your audience isn’t going anywhere. LinkedIn was a ghost town — official news aside — until the brand tributes started rolling in.

Do you post or not when a big thing happens?

It’s hard for brands to get it right. Post nothing; you may be seen as uncaring and out of touch. Post too much or inappropriately, and God forbid — carry on selling your products & services, and you risk a backlash. Being seen as insensitive and opportunistic.

See here the best and worst brand tweets about the Queen’s death [ ]. Some people were even telling him to give it a rest.

Bizarre content. Black boxes with white script. Changing company logos to black — er, no, Domino’s. Playmobil!! The entire McDonald’s system? I’m not sure what Thomas Cook was thinking…

I saw a charity shop in Battle with black outfits in the window. I get it, but it feels off-brand.

Queen Elizabeth had a strong brand image — close your eyes and picture her. What do you see? I see bright blocks of colour — fun outfits and her trademark loafers — that canary yellow jacket was my favourite. A cheeky smile and a twinkle in her eye.

Always a sharp dresser. Why not have a window display with neon colours as a tribute? That would be more fitting.

Paddington Bear got it right. Short and sweet. Love that she was up for that. Always keep a marmalade sandwich in your handbag for emergencies…

In the end, I put this out for the client.

What a weird week it’s been. Storms, flash floods, rainbows, record-breaking heatwaves, huge moons. Back to school. A new PM. The Queen died. A new King.

Lots of emotional speeches and storytelling bring people together.

Liz’s speech was good but sombre. A nice touch of humour from Boris and Theresa May — I love the cheese story. I imagine the Queen putting her foot down, driving around Balmoral, and stopping to chat with the stag.

I thought Charles’ tribute to his ‘darling mama’ was lovely — especially the last line about flights of angels.

And the 96-year-old woman who summed it up eloquently on Channel 4 News. She’s had a good life. That’s the way to go — no hospital, working till the end. Welcoming the new PM two days before she died.

I bought myself a vintage Pringle cardigan and a silk skirt — work event in London this week and will go pay my respects (more agonising about whether to cancel such things as we’re in a period of mourning, but it’s not the state funeral and I think the Queen would want business as usual).

The Queen has received a piece of Pringle knitwear every year since 1947 and wrote a thank you letter back each time.

Sure it will be a beautiful funeral 💜

Originally published at https://nikatalbot.substack.com on September 11, 2022.

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Writer and tech storyteller | Building an online media business. Stories on biz growth, writing, remote work and life design. Supercharge your solo work 🏄🏻‍♀️

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Nika Talbot

Nika Talbot

Writer and tech storyteller | Building an online media business. Stories on biz growth, writing, remote work and life design. Supercharge your solo work 🏄🏻‍♀️