The Revolution of Branding and Brand Trends
Branding has been going through a revolution. Over the past few years, branding has been shifting from representing pre-packaged, unapproachable and distant organisations to a more personal and connective state. Today, the expectations of consumers and B2B buyers are becoming more demanding. People want to understand and know everything about a business. They want to know what it is, what it produces, what it values and stands for and what it employs. More importantly, people want to interact more with brands, be able to demand new products and services, and be active in conversations with them. This has meant that brands have had to lose their impersonal, uncommunicative and distant skins.
As a result, branding has had to respond to the demand and undergo a revolution. They are changing their attitudes and are reflecting that they are listening to people through many different ways. For example, it is not unusual anymore that you will see a brand ambassador partaking in conversations with their customers via social media. The demand of becoming more personalised has become ever so important in maintaining a brands stability, which is most definitely reflected in the change many brands have employed
This poses the question of what is going to happen to branding in the near future? How will brands and branding change to reflect the needs of businesses and customers? In other words, the answer is a lot of the developments we have already seen starting to come to fruition, but the direction is still changing still. Yet, one thing is for sure brands are definitely connecting more with their consumers and becoming more humanised in general.
Here are the four biggest brand trends we have seen develop:
1- From Brand To Brand Experience
As already explained, the way in which brands present themselves and engage with the consumer is becoming extremely important. As a result, branding will no longer prioritise projecting imagery or their unique selling point and, instead, focus on proactively promoting a positive experiential interaction with their customers. Now all brands want to create a continued relationship with customers, and this approach will mean that users’ needs are met more effectively and efficiently.
For example, Audi have integrated a great customer experience in their new flagship store in Poole. When you take your car in for a service, they have many things you can do whilst you wait. As a customer you have access to a gym, spa, meeting room, computer and food and drink. This is a great example of how brands are adapting to meet the needs of customers more effectively and are interacting with them on a more personal level.
Trend: Branding is evolving and including more ‘soft’ elements and becoming less focused on colour, font, imagery, and more on connecting with customers.
2- Make It More Personal
Brands will always mean different things to different customers, which has been long recognised by brands. The introduction of social media platforms as their main method of interacting with their customers has meant brands have recognised that in order to compete they need to create a more customised and personal version of themselves for each customer.
Personalised branding has been making waves in the marketing industry. The most well known example is the “Share a Coke” campaign that Coca-Cola created, where Coca Cola created versions of cans and bottles featuring forenames. The campaign was launched in the UK April 2013 and saw Coca-Cola grow its Facebook community by 3.5% and globally by 6.8%. The campaign increased Coca-Cola’s value sales by 4.93% year on year to £765 million in 52 weeks to 17th of August, according to IRI Worldwide data. Overall, the sales of colas in the UK grew 2.75%, all other carbonates 3.11% and the total soft drinks market’s values sales increased by 2.36 %. Since the Coca-Cola campaign, Nutella and Marmite have been seen to incorporate the names on jars also, which also created great revenue for the brands. As you can see personalisation does sell.
The reason brands are wanting to incorporate a more personalised touch to their branding is clear - consumers love something that is personal and unique to them. Research by Hanley-Wood Business Media conducted in 2013 saw that 78% of consumers stated that brands who had created unique and personalised content are more interested in building a relationship with them.
Trend: Brands will interact with customers on a more personal level and tailor their offering to meet individual needs more appropriately.
Brands are becoming less corporate and more personalised but, something that is also being introduced is that brands are becoming much more human-like. Yet do not mistake the personalisation brands have introduced as similar to brands employing a humanised approach, as they are extremely different. In the past, brands have traditionally been a pretence that represent a set of values, but customers are becoming more and more turned off by the idea of a faceless company that doesn’t have any humanity about it. As a result, brands are increasingly turning to the people behind the facade to represent themselves, as a human connection creates a strong and often emotional bond.
There are many ways brands can employ a humanised approach. For example, talk like a real person as opposed to a big corporation, listen to people, admit mistakes and be authentic. Some brands have even treated their customers as their partners and face of the company. A great example of this is Levi’s jeans and their entire series of videos featuring customers in their products. They’ve also developed a line that meets the needs of a key customer group they have: urban bike riders and skateboarders. Levi’s has moved beyond conversing with customers on social networks to co-creating content, even products, with them.
Trend: Brands will take measures to start using more human attributes to connect emotionally with users and consumers.
4- Sourcing Internally
With many brands, there has been a long tendency to bring in professional help when it comes to branding. Although, we don’t expect this to change much in the future but we do expect businesses and brands to be more in charge of portraying what their brands are representing and connecting with customers on a more personal level.
Trend: Employees will offer more useful insights, and help develop the branding in surprising but effective directions.
Overall, branding is taking a swift change in direction, to a more personalised and humanised approach, and companies are already beginning to implement it. A brand represents everything about a business and with these new trends it is key that branding has to be all about experience, engagement and authenticity.