5 Big Branding Trends In 2016
Every company has a brand, or is a brand, or both. Not every company, though, cares about the branding consistency enough.
Branding trends in 2016 are gravitating towards being more human, and social media played a huge role in making it so. The likes of Facebook struck down the idea of corporations being unobtainable – you can write to almost every entity in the world and get your question answered in a matter of hours, if not minutes. Especially when it comes to B2C.
The ability to contact any given company directly (in a public or private way) profoundly changed how things are done – mainly for the good of the customers. In a way, we all became public personas. If you’re a consumer, and you have a Facebook profile, you’re already out there. And you can use that to your advantage… or not. The same goes for the companies.
1. Humanising and giving more value than you think you should
Look, I’m like you!
Who’s running the biggest brands in the world? People. Who’s buying from these brands? People. That’s why the inbound methodology has been the most effective marketing approach for doing an online business since 2006. It has evolved from simple articles and saying “yes” to an e-mail subscription, to the personalization of photo and video content (SEO info: link to the article about the online video trends), a next-level editorial approach, and much more.
Digitized society is a society that knows a lot. We’re dealing with prosumers on a daily basis. Since they do their research thoroughly, it’s our job to give them something that they weren’t aware of. Something that truly creates value for them – even before they show any intent to buy. That’s why we spend our time on SEO, on social media, on generating content, or publishing informative videos long before we ask for one’s e-mail. We hope to attract the prospect with what we have prepared for him, instead of just blasting ads at whomever, wherever possible.
2. Personalizing (which is not the same as humanising)
In the process of turning a faceless brand into a more humanized one, don’t forget that it’s not the same as personalizing. While both of these branding trends focus on tapping into the emotions and connecting with users or consumers, they’re different.
Humanising is about having someone you can interact with, both before, during, and after the sale. On the other hand, personalization is a Coke bottle with your name on it, or a Starbucks coffee with a “John” handwritten by an employee or an iPad with your favorite quote engraved on the back.
It’s similar in the digital world. That’s why you are receiving e-mails starting with “Hey, Laura!” instead of “Dear Customer”. The more personal the message, the more you’ll be able to increase the engagement. The more original your photo and video content inside that message, the more you’ll stand out. Take a clue from recent graphic design trends. Focus on applying whimsical illustrations and bold, playful, custom fonts – as long as they’re consistent with your overall image.
It’s also important to deliver said message during the right milestone of the customer’s journey. And honestly, that might be the hardest thing to do – in a study conducted by the CMO Council and Pegasystems, only 5% of marketers have a predictive understanding of that process.
As for the delivery itself, personalization is achieved mostly through e-mail (80%), then social media (42%), landing pages (37%), the content (31%), SMS, retargeting, in-app messaging, and more.
Most of the industry leaders are also predicting that the messaging itself will become a large part of marketing and branding. Facebook is already integrating campaigns into the Messenger. Snapchat launched Discover, where companies can create their own geofilter to use for live events. WhatsApp opened up for business clients. These are all examples of amazing, non-obtrusive digital channels to use for marketing opportunities.
3. A great customer experience is a must
Did you know that the U.S. brands are losing approximately $41 billion each year due to not sufficient customer service? A client who buys something from you is, at the same time, providing you with the most important thing he can give: trust. Don’t damage it. That’s not only unfair; it will also cost you money.
It’s similar to the customer experience. Google, for example, does not tolerate websites loading longer than 5 seconds when it comes to SERP. Having a fast delivery on your WWW and app is crucial, especially in a world full of Facebook’s Instant Articles or Google’s AMP. Optimizing the size of your images (JPEGMini does a fantastic job with that, by the way), having the developers import your custom font into the CSS correctly, building the website with the responsive design principles in mind – it all matters.
4. The importance of brand consistency in a world of multichannel communication
You want to make sure that your prospects know from the first second that they’ve come to the right place. On mobile, an average time of keeping one’s attention with ads is about 5 seconds. That’s all you have to generate a lead.
Now, think of this as a brand deployment insight. After the company definition, strategy, and foundation stages comes brand expression and communications. And again – it all comes down to consistency.
It’s as simple as that – not having consistent graphics, design, and general communication ideas across your channels will have negative consequences. Your customers don’t have time to figure out if they ended up where they should’ve. Let’s say that they’ve liked your Facebook profile. Next, if they end up on Twitter, or on Instagram, or on your YouTube, make sure they’ll instantly know that it’s you.
Did you know that a majority of 18 to 24-year-olds expect a consistent experience throughout all of the channels? They want to access the same information (and in the same way!) on a mobile, on their desktop, via an app for Kindle. People await identical standards from a brand no matter what they do and where they are. Think McDonald’s basic ice cream. They’re cheap, they’re tasty, they’re indistinguishable everywhere you go, even if the restaurants themselves may vary a bit when it comes to interior design. Apply this rule into the world of multichannel communication. Outdoor media, social media, your website – the visual branding has to be consistent. First of all, it just looks good. In a world where 54% of people don’t trust brands in general, everything matters. Taking care of your credibility might as well start with your digital and visual appearance.
5. Social responsibility and brand experience
Brand experience is a huge thing nowadays. We’re shifting from a pure projection of a particular image or a lifestyle and focusing more on creating relationships. With deeper immersion, offered by 360 video content and VR techniques, with prospects voluntarily providing their data in exchange for a richer experience, it’s easier to give our customers something worth their while.
With brand experience comes social responsibility, though. It’s not an altruistic approach – when your consumers feel that they’re contributing to a greater cause, they’re more likely to form a more meaningful rapport. That’s why more and more brands are researching trends, launching various social campaigns and movements. Millenials – as one of the largest generations in history – represent more than $2,5 trillion in potential spendings. More than 70% of them will spend their money on brands supporting causes they both care about, provided they’ll find the corporate interest genuine.