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Grave Issues

Grave Issues

The business of death

Given that today is the scariest day of the year, we thought it would be fun to face up to the one scary truth that faces us all; that horrible business of death!

With an ageing population that has more money to spend than ever before – the whole area of death has become an even bigger business. Whether planning for it, counting down to it, or making sure that you leave this world in style – there really is something for everyone. Here, we take a look at some of the brands we’ve seen tapping into this morbid space in interesting (and sometimes wacky) ways.

First up is Beyond – a company that started out as Funeralbooker in 2015 (think of it like Compare the Market, but for all things Funeral). In a saturated market of sombre colours and depressing imagery, they saw an opportunity to do death differently, and rebranded to Beyond this summer. Taking a customer centric approach to their brand, they wanted to reframe the conversation around death from one of tradition and difficulty, to one of support and choice. This saw them introduce bright colours, a warm engaging tone of voice and a friendly brand mascot to walk their customers through what can be a very difficult process. While it’s not a topic many want to engage with, this certainly puts a more positive spin on things.

Also putting the ‘fun’ into funeral is Tikker – a ‘Black-Mirror-esque’ watch concept that counts down to your estimated time of death. You fill out a lifestyle questionnaire and after a quick calculation, you are presented with your potential expiry date. Not for the faint-hearted, the makers say that the point of the watch is to remind you not to waste a single second and to use the time you have left well and to lead a fulfilling life.

Another company thinking outside the casket and made infamous by none other than Kris Jenner, Algordanza allows you to turn yourself or your departed loved one into a diamond. Using cremated ashes, this bling-tastic company has developed a method of compressing the carbon to form a diamond which is then professionally cut and presented in a gift box, or piece of jewellery of your choice. Morbid or amazing; I can’t decide!

And while some brands are looking on the bright side of death, others are concentrating on providing for their existing customers when the time comes. As much as our physical lives come to an end, so too will our digital ones and most of the big social media players have had to start thinking about end of life services for their users. In 2013, Google launched ‘inactive Account Manager’ which allowed you to automatically memorialise your online accounts after a set period of inactivity. Since then, other websites like Deadsocial have developed ‘Social Media End of Life Planning’ services, where you can assign a ‘digital executor’ to take care of your internet life once you’re gone – you can even schedule future messages to your friends and family from beyond the grave.

So, while the topic might be a morbid one to think about, it also demonstrates how brands are adapting and spotting opportunities to connect with audiences in ways we wouldn’t have imagined a few short years ago. It will be interesting to see how the death market evolves even more as technologies such as AI and VR become more mainstream. Now there’s some food for thought. For now, we’re going back to the land of the living. And thinking about what sort of diamond we could become in the afterlife…

Sheena Flynn is a Brand Designer in Dynamo

Founded over 25 years ago, Dynamo is a brand agency located in the heart of Dublin, Ireland. It has expert teams dedicated to developing effective consumer and corporate branding.