Trying to understand the modern-day consumer can be compared to catching the wind; they are fickle and their tastes ephemeral. What they might find appealing and engaging one day might disinterest them the next. This is why survival in the current business climate calls for constant reinvention.
Everyday, brands are looking for better ways to attract new customers and to keep the ones in their fold satisfied. The only way to do this is to keep up with their consumers’ dynamic behavior and adjust their business model accordingly. Unilever, a multinational company behind name brands such as Dove and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, spent around 7.2 billion Euros ($8.1 billion) on branding and advertising in 2019 alone. This goes to show how essential branding is, even to well-established businesses.
Limited budgets notwithstanding, small-time entrepreneurs can also make use of effective branding strategies that can boost their visibility.
So, what branding trends should you keep an eye out for? Here are the top 5 trends to incorporate into your branding strategy.
1. Tell your brand story
Everyone loves a good story.
Telling your brand story goes beyond just having an ‘About Us’ page on your website as most companies do. It is an opportunity to personalize your brand to make it easier for your audience to identify with you.
Your customers want to know about your journey thus far, what drives you, what your hopes are, etc. You want them to view you as a conscious brand that cares about human connections instead of just another business that is desperate for their money.
A company that does this exceptionally well is Vaseline. They have capitalized on the fact that they have been around for an extended period, to show their consumers how they have been producing consistent products over the years..
But you don’t have to have a century of operation under your belt to tell a good story. Tom’s Shoes established in 2006, pulls at the heartstrings of its consumers by telling a story of how their founder was moved by the gaping poverty of Argentinean children while he was traveling through the country. So for every shoe they sell, they aim to donate a pair to a child in need. This has worked well for them because they have donated over 100 million shoes to impoverished kids.
Just like these businesses, you need to capitalize on your story to make your brand more relatable and to foster long term connections with your audiences.
2. Have an adaptable logo
Technology has made it possible for your audience to have different methods of consuming content. From devices to social media platforms to your physical product, it can be difficult to use one logo effectively. This is why more companies are looking to have different designs adaptable to different scenarios.
Shapeshifting logos usually take on different colors, sizes and shapes depending on the medium. The standard is to have your main logo, that may incorporate your business name, tag line, etc then to have variations of that logo that have less and less detail, depending on the medium or demographic.
Take a leaf from these brands:
3. Go beyond static images
The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. This is why brands are incorporating images into their written content now more than ever. But if you want to up the ante, go for animated images instead.
Gifs are good for communicating emotions on social media but are even better marketing visual aids in business. They are more attention-grabbing and highly engaging. When incorporated into websites, apps and social media communications, they drastically improve the consumer experience.
Look at how Google does it for instance:
They make use of the brand colors and animations to create an aesthetically pleasing gif that’s also informative. No wonder no one has been able to dethrone this media giant.
4. Take a stance on social issues
Although it can be hard to keep up with all the on-goings of the world, it is important to stay on top of major news from around the globe. Consumer audiences are usually keen on the stand that brands take on various issues to see if they align with theirs. The millennial and Gen Z consumers, who are the currently the largest demographic, are very conscious and therefore remain loyal to brands that support causes that they are affiliated with.
These causes are numerous ranging from human rights, civil rights movements, climate change, world hunger, children’s rights, etc. It is usually befitting to align yourself with a cause directly related to your business.
For example, Lush, a cosmetics company founded in the U.K, supports animal rights through their Charity Pot campaign to help fight against testing on animals, an undertaking that is still commonplace in many beauty companies. This has helped Lush attract vegans and animal lovers into their consumer base.
Find a cause that you are passionate about and as you work to make the world a better place, you will inevitably increase your reach.
5. Use technology to improve consumer experience
Incredible strides have been made in the past few years towards the advancement of Artificial Intelligence. We are now inching closer to replicating human interactions with robots.
One way that AI is being used in business is through Chat Bots. Many companies have integrated these bots into their websites to communicate with users. These help guide the users through the sites, answer simple questions and connect them to salespeople if need be, totally mimicking human interaction. A balance has to be stricken though, because some consumers may feel neglected if they are attended to only by robots.
Another way to integrate technology into branding is the use of Augmented Reality. Through AR, consumers are able to try out products and make purchasing decisions without having to directly interact with brands. This is the future of retail shopping, where a customer can ‘try out’ a product from the comfort of their home by bringing virtual experiences to real world scenarios.
One such brand making use of AR is furniture retailer, IKEA. Using the company’s app, consumers can be able to see 3D renderings of furniture and view how it would look in their living space.
As the consumer, technological and entrepreneurship scenes are constantly on the move, they are making traditional branding methods increasingly ineffective. As such, businesses must keep up with the emerging trends to ensure that they stay a beat ahead of their competition. The trends discussed above have been beneficial to many brands across different industries and can be beneficial to yours if integrated into your branding strategy.
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