Massive digital transformations took place in 2016. And 2017 is set to be even more dynamic. Your consumers are changing, and your brand needs to evolve with them.
Is your brand ready for the changing consumer? Especially the Generation Z? A plunging profits line, an outdated design or a lack of social media stories… if these situations resonate with you, then it’s time to hit a refresh. But if you feel your brand is geared up for an eventful year of marketing and retail, then just ensure that it does the following for you:
#1. It should help you monitor customer reviews & ratings.
Until a few years back, every brand wanted to look authentic. Brands wanted to tell consumers how their orange juice has real pulp, how their mobile is unbreakable even if you fling it from a moving car, yada yada yada. But we went over the top with it and desensitized our consumers to it. If your brand is built upon a positioning that makes such a claim then you need to make some tweaks now.
Whole Foods Market says everything it offers is natural and organically produced. That’s great! But if your brand’s positioning is based on a verifiable claim then you’ll have to weave a new tale to communicate it.
Why? Because it’s all about what your customers hear.
60% of smartphone users agree that when conducting a search on their smartphones, They look for the most relevant information, regardless of the company providing it. (Source – Google/Ipsos, U.S., August 2015)
Let’s say a potential customer who’s heard her colleagues raving about Whole Foods, is passing by a Whole Foods store . She picks up her phone and googles ‘Whole Food reviews’. She can browse through a list of pages that say the whole thing is based on misleading lies. That’s it, she doesn’t even need to click on any of the pages. The search page was enough to help her make the decision. She puts the phone back in her bag and walks across to Safeway, which makes no such claim. Let’s just say Whole Food was indeed offering ‘authentic’ organic food. But who can verify it? Can it control those search results?
If you’re a small business and you can’t control what Google says about you, you need to dump your unverifiable position and find a new positioning. You gotta hit refresh.
In order to control what shows up when someone searches for your brand, you have to propagate enough content about yourself or get influencers to talk about you. Your brand’s core should steer clear from all this. Irrespectively, in 2017, you’ll have to embed testimonials, ratings, reviews (Yelp, Google, Facebook, the drill…) into your branding strategy. Because consumers no longer want to hear your own reviews about yourself.
#2. It’s got to help you be the guy next door.
What changes most rapidly around you? We’d love to say Facebook algorithms and Adobe Flash players, but seriously, think about the most reactive industry around you? Or rather, proactive. The fashion industry. They have to be on the top of their game and plan at least an year in advance. Which is why when we have to study where branding and advertising is going, we often study fashion trends and fashion brands.
What was special about 2016 was that designers shed their glamorous, over the top image. Brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton are trying to make merchandise which is statemental yet practical. Consumers these days, dislike fluff and larger than life claims. They want to associate with products and brands that are cute, charming and sweet, but don’t know it. Just like the guy next door.
The Urban Dictionary describes the guy next door as follows:
They dress casually, and although they don’t try to stand out in the crowd or be the centre of attention, they still shine. Guys next door usually have one of those laughs or smiles that is able to make you feel instantly happier. Bring him home to the parents, no problem!
This is what you want your brand to be in 2017 and thereon. Defluffing and joining the moments brigade is what brands should definitely try to do this year. And hence, your refreshed brand should help you achieve this.
#3. It needs to simplify your message for the goldfish.
The goldfish has a memory of 7 seconds. Do you know how long it takes for a visitor to decide if he is going to shop from your website or your store? 7 seconds. 7 seconds on your landing page or your website. That’s exactly why, in 2017 brands will have to adapt for the goldfish. Bolder yet simpler. The communication should be figureoutable and easy to remember.
This extends to your website. As well as your social media campaigns and most importantly, your brand identity.
Place hooks across your content (like these), as nobody is going to read the whole thing. Most stories are shared on Twitter or Facebook by just looking at the heading and skimming through a few highlighted points. For all you know, the rest of the article may as well be written in Greek! Get to the point as quickly as you can.
The same applies to what you write on social media. Try to say what you have to in 200 characters. Don’t take advantage of the fact that Facebook lets you write long essays for status updates. Because knock, knock. Nobody is paying any attention.
Your logos and your brand colors need to simplify too. Brands dropped the artsy fonts and sarif extensions a few years back. And now it’s time to lose the multi colors or complicated linearts. Your new refreshed brand should incorporate all these changes.
#4. It’s got to find you a story to tell.
Your brand has a story already. It’s got a purpose and an identity. It belongs to a certain place and supports a certain attitude. But is all that interesting? Will you be able to make an interesting Instagram Feed around it? That’s the classic test we take for all our clients.
If your brand has no story at all, then you gotta find one for it. And if it has a story but not an interesting one, then you gotta make it interesting. Because from the mobile phones to the store windows, all people are looking for is entertainment.
Canadians have developed new entertainment preferences in the recent past. They watch their favourite content on Youtube, Facebook or Netflix. They look for entertainment in their mobile phones and not their TV screens. Your story needs to be embedded into your brand so that it can be communicated across all these channels easily.
The golden rules for story-telling that your refreshed brand must help you with:
Show them something they have never seen before
Show them how it’s made
Show them the people behind the product
The North Face does this really really well. It’s made their interesting lifestyle a part of its brand and hence, any mentions about the product seem subtle and truthful.
Oh and yes, here’s a repeat from last year’s trends – Think mobile first. Desktop later. Many brands still aren’t designed to look good on mobile. What about yours?