We'd rather be Pro-ordinary than Extraordinary.
In a recent presentation at PauseFest, digital strategist Stephanie Winkler and senior strategist Hannah Murphy, both of Vice Australia, described how on the VICE website: 'content that highlights the ordinary, gets the clicks'.
This is a far cry from the content coming out of platforms like Youtube and Instagram, that love extreme action, high fashion and amazing skills. And indeed, brands are trying to reach everything and lucrative audience groups on these platforms by creating content that's exciting, visually beautiful and captivating.
But for all this exhilarating content, young people are feeling more anxious and alienated than ever before. How can they be anxious when life can be so exciting!?
Herein lies the problem - life CAN be exciting - but, it often ISN'T. As a result, young people suffer from a disconnect of what life they COULD be living, verus what life they ARE living.
Mainstream media loves to promote stories of young individuals excelling, constantly showing winners at sport, business and fashion. Every holiday Instagram post, every shot of a stylish young influencer with two million followers, Winkler argued, re-enforces to young people that they haven't done anything with their lives yet. If you aren't winning, you aren't 'successful' at being a young person.
This has created a lot of self doubt in the minds of young people. 'Imposter syndrome' searches are up 376%, and there is plenty of data on young people using social media, but not saying anything - they just scroll. As Murphy put it 'they're too anxious they could put [up] something boring or not exceptional'.
The solution, Murphy and Winkler argued, was that brands should embrace self-doubt, and be pro-ordinary. We completely agree.
Fear of failure is your customer's biggest fear. This means as a brand, you have to give them reasons why they won't fail by going with your brand. Sure, Red Bull will give them wings, but you'll help them budget enough to make their rent this week.
Being pro-ordinary means to address fears and anxieties of the moment. This means moving away from aspirational images and 'success' as the end result. In fact, the success should come from making sure that everyday life runs smoothly.
Could your brand be the one that eliminates young people's anxiety by not expecting the world of them? Build products and services that are simple, easy to use and built for the everyday, not just for high achievers or dreamers.
Being pro-ordinary doesn't mean to stop promoting your brand to audiences either - it's about understanding how your brand is seen within the ecosystem of the platform you're advertising. Via Instagram for example, your images are going to be next to extraordinary vistas, thigh gaps and achievements. Are you going to stand out by adding to this noise, or by cutting through by reaffirming to the user, that everyday is okay?
By promoting the pro-ordinary, you'll be able to connect to young people on a deeper level, and build stronger relationships to your brand.
Being pro-ordinary is a brand that's bold enough to call out and say "Breathe - you got this", in a world where young people increasingly feel that they don't.