The way we approach branding dictates just about everything front-facing about our businesses. With a strong brand, all the goals that go into growing and sustaining a business become all the more achievable. When we think about the way brands connect with users, there’s never been a more tricky time to define ourselves.
Throughout the pandemic, brands either thrived or faltered on the strength of their brand. Consumers spend enough time online shopping nowadays to have a healthy skepticism towards businesses that just don’t cut it. In short: we know who’s faking it and who isn’t. Don’t fake it. Instead, take time to explore these trends in building a better brand and find ways to adopt these ideas into strategic marketing plans for the future.
One of the first things a customer knows about a brand is whether or not it’s authentic. When we talk about authenticity, it’s best to go with the definition a digital product studio would use.
Brand authenticity comes down to three questions: Is the brand true to its message and mission? Is the brand motivated by the right things? Can the brand support customers in their search for authenticity?
It’s not easy to just throw a brand together without losing authenticity. That’s why a lot of these other tips feed into building this crucial element that we all look for when we explore places to shop for goods and services. Keep this one in mind while we work our way through the rest.
Work to Build an Online Community
In 2020, we all found ourselves spending less face-to-face time with our friends and family. Many of us turned to online communities as a way to fulfill our needs for socializing, interacting, and belonging. Brands play a role in these online communities if they’re really resonating with their audiences. For instance, a simple interest in the same outdoor life brand or clothing company can bring people together.
Likewise, a company that uses its brand to posture its products alongside issues and interests finds a much easier path to building its online community. We’re all consumers, and we like choosing to buy and support things we can get behind. It’s no wonder we love it when brands help connect us to people that feel the same way.
Audit Your Logo and Adjust Accordingly
We put a lot of a brand’s style and recognition into one simple visual: a logo. Whether it be a simple avatar on social media or all over a package, logos matter immensely. Approaching brand trends from the established business perspective, we need audits to improve the brand and get better results.
When we think of good logos, we can list countless attributes and things we love to see. At the end of the day, it really comes down to logo versatility. A logo should work for numerous spaces and utilities. That means it needs to be simple, eye-catching, and functional across multiple places.
The word trend sometimes has a bad connotation. For example, sustainability in branding is often shrugged off as a “trend” that is here for the moment because it’s on our minds. Let’s be clear: sustainability is here to stay. Instead of debating if sustainable values fit into a brand, a better way to approach this crucial topic is to find ways your brand can become more sustainable.
Unlike some trends, sustainable production, packaging, and practices should be something we plan to use for the long haul. Time and time again, customers express their love for brands that think sustainably. It’s good for building authenticity, it resonates with customers, and best of all, it’s a trend that truly makes a difference in the world around us.
2020 didn’t just see the rise of a global pandemic; we also took conversations of race and inclusion into the public sphere for all to participate. If our brands are a reflection of us and the people we hope to connect with, then inclusivity needs to be a part of the picture.
How can inclusivity be incorporated into our branding? Well for starters, we need to think of inclusivity as an invitation for all to get on board with what we want to accomplish. That means looking at marginalized groups and those traditionally left behind in brand campaigns and not just including them, but celebrating and lifting them. ThirdLove and its approach to bra sizing is a great example of how inclusivity is a recipe for success.
Balancing Social Media Branding and Traditional Ads
When we write a social media post as personal users, we likely don’t set out to write it like an advertisement. Spoiler alert: neither should businesses! That’s why branding goes a long way in developing an identity in traditional ads and social posts.
Branding helps us to identify how we want to reach our audience, what topics and subjects interest us most, and how we want to address these with solutions. Making a word cloud about what we envision our brand to be can help write more effective social posts and ads.
Visual and Video Branded Content
When we develop things like pictures and videos for businesses, it’s crucial to keep them on-brand. That doesn’t just mean fitting our little logo to the corner. It’s a mindset that goes into how we shoot the photo or video, how we approach post-production, and where we can find room to stand out uniquely.
From music choices in videos to filtering photos to fit a picture-perfect Instagram feed, all of these technical choices should lead back to a branded experience for the user. It’s all the more reason to have authentic values and aesthetics as a brand so the content production process can go more smoothly.
Keep It Human and Customer-Focused
At the end of the day, we can’t forget that brands need to stay customer-focused and highlight our humanity. We might be talking to users from the perspective of a business, but it needs to feel like every connection you make with an audience is a personal one.
With branding becoming such an integral part of a company’s longevity and impact, it’s no wonder why trends in branding are changing all the time. Keep an eye on these trends and more that emerge in 2021 and beyond to continue taking a creative approach to growth, success, and better businesses.
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