Successful branding may feel as though it’s as elusive as a magical Pegasus, but the reality is that it’s as simple as capturing your brand in a way that speaks to your audience.
At the start of each new year, I like to take a look at the past and make note of where we’re heading, and I can’t help but to be excited about what I see happening in branding and marketing in 2018. Branding your business is becoming more intuitive and customer-focused, and there’s absolutely nothing to not love about it.
I’ve put together a few top branding trends for the coming year, along with examples of companies that are getting it right. They’re successful and super inspiring.
Let’s take a look.
Transparency and Ethics: Primary Goods
We live in a culture that’s dominated by social media, but as much as social media and the digital landscape can do for brands, there’s one element that it takes away.
The ability to keep secrets.
Your customers expect - and demand - honesty and transparency. Plus, they want that transparency to show them something that they’re going to feel good about. In 2018, we're seeing brands embracing transparency, and promoting themselves through honest and ethical practices.
Take Primary Goods, for example.
Their site states that they spent over a year looking for the perfect factory and manufacturer. They go on to tell the story of their factory, and showcase images of their employees at work. At a time when consumers are taking a stand against foreign labor that’s underage and underpaid, Primary Goods goes the extra mile to be completely transparent in their production process.
Touchpoints Create Differentiation: Nike
Touchpoints are actions on your part that 'touch' your customer in some way at different points of the consumer journey. Depending on the nature of your brand, you might have multiple touchpoints through a long sales funnel, or you might only have one or two chances to reach out and create a memorable interaction.
It isn’t so much the number of touchpoint opportunities you have, but how you make the most out of each one. When it comes to branding, that means making yourself stand out through each touchpoint opportunity.
Let’s say that you’re an eCommerce business which specializes in a subscription service for locally sourced wines. There might be other similar subscription companies in the market, but if you optimize touchpoints, there'll be no one else that offers the exact same service as you.
An excellent example of a company that uses touchpoints in branding in Nike. Yes, they’re a giant, but there’s a tremendous amount that small businesses can learn about their touchpoint approach.
Here’s what Nike can teach us.
- Customer interaction is crucial at every point in the journey
- It’s important to know your audience, but also to be able to personally appeal to every segment of that audience, no matter how different they are. This is accomplished through personal interaction and emotional appeal.
- Influencers are important. You don’t need big names, they just need to have a big influence on your market.
- Your marketing strategy matters. Trust, value, authenticity and reputation attract traffic and help secure a relationship.
- They provide an amazing customer experience that doesn’t end with the sale.
Storytelling with Video: Purple Feather
If you only do one thing this year to build your brand, it should involve the incorporation of video into your branding strategy. Here’s why.
Video's the hot medium for content right now, and with popularity of Live and 360° video on social media, it’s only going to get bigger. People love video because it’s engaging and it gives them a “real” picture of your brand, which other forms of media simply can’t accomplish.
For you, video can help build your brand by driving traffic and conversions, improving your ROI, and attracting the mobile audience - in fact, 68% of consumers would prefer to watch an explainer video to solve a problem. The bottom line is that video builds trust and authenticity, two things which are crucial for branding your business.
But video can also do something else, and that’s tell a great story.
Stories are great for branding your business - whether it’s the story of how your company came to be, or even short, fun, fictitious stories to go along with your product line. Smart brands are using more video, and more storytelling, in their branding efforts this year.
Purple Feather, a content creation agency out of Glasgow, uses video to engage in a little storytelling, and drive home their branding message by bringing to life the power of words.
Event Branding: GitHub
In 2018, branding is about more than a dynamic digital presence. The simple fact is that most brands are already doing the whole social media, online presence thing - you need to take yourself beyond the digital marketing box.
It’s time to get out into the real world. This means it’s time to host an event.
Ok, I’ll backtrack a little here and say that Live events on social media work just as well as location events. The point is, you need to get your brand recognized for being active in the world outside of the digital landscape, regardless if your audience can attend in person or not.
The types of events that will help you build your brand will, of course, depend on your business, but start thinking about community events and opportunities to provide a service to your audience. The more anticipation you can build around your events the better.
Take this example from GitHub - in late 2017, GitHub hosted 'Universe', a series of talks, training sessions and workshops for the tech community. While the event itself was enough to earn huge interest, the way they used their site to promote and associate their brand with the event was genius.
Everything from page design and color scheme, to content and the afterparty, made this an event that was entirely unique to them. Couldn’t make it? That’s fine, you could still watch some of it live, even if you couldn’t physically attend.
Colors and Graphics as Unique as Your Brand: Mouth Foods
With everything that goes into branding, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some basic design elements. We all know that first impressions are often visual - what your customer sees upon first contact is going to form their image of your brand.
So, what do you want them to see? The same old boring color schemes and layouts?
No, I didn’t think so.
There’s a trend right now towards using brighter, more cheerful colors in marketing and branding, along with “cleaner” looking page designs. You don’t need to follow along with the trends to get noticed - in fact, too many brands following along in the wrong way means everyone gets ignored.
But now is the time to experiment with some pops of color and design elements which help to tell the story of your brand.
Look at Mouth Foods, for example.
Mouth Foods is a subscription service based on small batch, indie foods and beverages. Their premise is to provide an experience that you’ve never had before and can’t get anywhere else. One look at their page and you can see that they do a great job branding themselves through color and site design.
The number one piece of advice for branding your business in 2018 is to be authentic. You have a great business, built around strong principles - you don’t need to be anything other than the greatness you already are. Branding your business is all about tapping into what you already have, and showing it a way that’s irresistible.
How are you going to build your brand in 2018?