What's going to build your brand in 2018? What marketing trends are the best bets and what can you expect from your competition?
You've been taught to avoid trends (unless they perfectly align with your brand's mission, vision and values)—and ordinarily, branding trends don't hold a lot of significance. They're gone as quickly as they've come. And often, if the wrong trends are followed, you can have a big mess to clean up.
The upcoming year is going to be different. Branding has taken on a life of its own, and I can see these trends being viable into the future for many different types of brands—yours included.
I even feel comfortable saying that avoiding these branding trends could result in the rapid decomposition of your own brand.
Are you ready to learn about the trends that will most greatly affect your brand's success in 2018?
2018 Branding and Marketing Trends
The emergence of every one of these trends has to do with flooded markets. Decades ago, there were only a few competing brands in every sector, and so, they could rely on price point, quality and other tangible factors to help them sell.
Today, there's too much competition to get by so simply. Instead, consumers are looking for extra, in the form of personal experiences, social causes and more. And so, the brands that wish to compete will respond to those trends (born of consumer demands).
You can expect these branding trends to grow and become highly significant in 2018:
- Conversation: Remember the days when consumers received branding and marketing messages, then made their purchasing decisions without ever interacting with brands? Those days are gone. I think it has a lot to do with people engaging less and less with each other in-person; they're now looking for human-like interactions everywhere, including the communications that lead to the spending of their money. This means that you've got to get real with your brand's interactions. Don't just sell; serve first. Don't just speak; listen, too. Don't just publish messages; receive them, as well.
- Tribes: In particular, those built on social media. Social media is growing more and more interactive every day, and its users want to be heard and to participate, rather than simply receive messages. These types of scenarios work best when everyone has significant influence and the opinions of all members matter. In essence, it should be a place where your ideal customers can go to express themselves and to be accepted—in spite of (and maybe particularly for) those things they've been excluded for in the past.
- Purpose: The people of your target audience don’t simply want to find the best product or service for their needs. They want to know why you're offering that product, what cause(s) you're supporting and how the funds they spend with you will be spent or invested. This trend is a hybrid, born of a genuine concern for the state of the world, as well as a need for new criteria in the decision-making process.
- Experiences: Due in large part to technology, today's consumer has come to expect an experience with every purchase—not just a product. That experience can be anything from a Live Facebook video where interactions happen in real time to an exciting, one-of-a-kind personal encounter with something adventurous, unique or unexpected that is tied to the brand.
- Psychology: How does your ideal customer react to a number of different stimuli? What emotion makes them want to move away from the pain your brand relieves? And what emotion makes them want to pursue the solution you're offering? There's a growing need for branding and marketing professionals to have a solid grasp of human psychology and how it works to attract people to their brand.
- Immersion: With tools like chatbots at your disposal, you can create a truly unique experience for each one of your customers. Not only can you programme this technology to ask questions and answer questions, you can create an if/then path that 'listens' and delivers. It does take the place of human interactions in many cases; however, if your ideal customer is interested in a no-fuss customised experience with speed and efficiency, this trend could be important to your brand.
- Positioning: You've already named what's unique about your brand and used that to position it with distinctiveness in the market; however, maybe you've been shying away from a different type of positioning: the kind where you 'take a position' on a current event, political figure, global issue, etc. Many brands have been reluctant to move in this direction. I don't need to tell you that politics and other heated issues can be scary places to take up residence. However, if you choose a position (express an opinion) that fully aligns with your brand's corporate values, no negative repercussions will be felt. There will be people on you current list who choose to distance themselves from your brand. However, here's the question: if they don't share your corporate values, did you want them in your tribe anyway?
- Micro-Searches: Consumers are no longer 'scheduling' long internet search sessions at home, on their laptops and desktops. Instead, they're using internet search on-demand and on-the-go with their mobile devices. They want questions answered quickly and succinctly. For the most part, they're not looking for in-depth solutions; however, they do wish to feel instantaneous reactions at the hands of the brands that can potentially serve their needs. Then, they can take the time to learn more later, if they wish. In order to compete, your brand should be catering to this search trend by delivering rapid answers with high relevancy and a spirit of service.
Following branding trends (and implementing those that will advance your strategy and grow your brand) will not only help your brand to compete head-to-head, it will keep you abreast of recent happenings (so you can speak intelligently about 'the latest' with your audience), and make you more able to respond to trend shifts with maximum agility.
Most (if not all) of these trends will affect the viability of your brand in 2018. Which one will you incorporate first? Which ones have you already integrated? And which ones frighten you? Let's talk about it in the How to Build a Brand group, where business owners and entrepreneurs are gathering to learn how to better build their brands whilst competing for prizes in the 21-day Brand Builders Challenge.