What Do People Need? Fear and Safety in the Modern World

calm demonstrating safety

“Humans gravitate to the known, the safe, and the trusted.” 

– Douglas Van Praet, Unconscious Branding

So true in branding, business, and life! Today, we are seeing a greater measure of this truth in ‘life’. The spillover to business and branding is very real. “Business as usual” has changed; paradigms and business processes have been disrupted. This covers everything from how you manage your product delivery, to advertising campaigns and public statements, to the benefits you give employees and what you do to help your business partners.

At GrowthShift, we wanted to provide some earnest thoughts, that in some small way, shift the focus and aim to instill hope and create safety at a time of crisis. We hope everyone is safe and healthy, able to work as they need, and finding those quiet moments to take a breath, reflect, and prepare to grow in the future.

Addressing Fear Starts and Ends with Empathy

The time we’re in right now demands leadership, and the core of that effort must be empathy.

Communicating with your team, partners, customers, and the world is difficult at this moment. People are avoiding communication as mandated, amplifying the struggle to find ways to feel normal or share our concerns. We’re weary. So, every email or communication needs to be addressed to those who want to hear what you and others have to say so that they can have some semblance of normality.

Respond with empathy to those who will see your message. Slow down, listen, and be thoughtful about what they’re experiencing. We strive for that with our core values by keeping the promise of sharing something useful and valuable.

It’s a time in our nation that requires we all be leaders for the people in our lives, including the communities where our businesses operate. That doesn’t mean shrink back. It means having a conversation, lending a hand, and being part of something where you can offer courage, strength.

To Find Safety, Seek Truth

At times of uncertainty, fear is high. That’s because our nature is to be wary of the unknown, the uncertain, that potential danger lurking in the shadows. Fear is the perception that something is or could be there. We’re reacting to that unknown in the absence of understanding.

Unfortunately, we also now lack easy access to a core truth. There are many versions and variations available, and people are consuming information on everything. That which terrifies us, the Coronavirus today and something else tomorrow, just makes us less confident, especially when the truth is uncertain.

So, what do we do at this time?

If you have knowledge, share it.

If you can find the truth, dig it out.

If you know the way, lead. If you don’t, lead. 

Become the “trusted” that Van Praet says people will gravitate to.


Building brands is no different. Create a sense of safety, assuage fear.


That’s the DNA of what we’re about, whether it’s here at GrowthShift in our operations, or in our daily, personal lives. In this vacuum of uncertainty and fear, we must resist the urge to sit back and do nothing. It’s time to step up.

Don’t give in to fear or succumb to how easy it is to let others take charge when you know something else needs to be said. Communication is the only way to move forward, and we do it best together.

Innovation Is Hope

In our space, innovation and disruption are two of the most common elements of any brand or disruption. The tech industry thrives on them.

People do, too.

So, in this time of uncertainty, where we must address fear and safety in how we talk, lean into that pursuit of innovation. Use it to tackle the much larger mission of communicating hope. As Peter Drucker says, “innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity.”

The innovation we need right now is the ability to create and share hope; and then translate that into operational excellence. To let customers and teams and partners know that things will get better and we can turn a corner. To help people focus on the future and start feeling a little better.

How you protect and grow your business now, the hope you build in these challenging times, creates the foundation for how you thrive in the good times. Be safe, and get to work.