Branding Trends

7 Key Branding Trends in 2020 to Grow Your Business

Branding trends matter because they help a business understand more broadly how customers are thinking and feeling. This in turn potentially enables you to better meet their needs so you can influence their choices and increase your profits.

The risks of a pandemic have been well documented for many years, but the exact timing or nature of the current crisis is something more difficult to predict and that’s often the nature of trends too. 

A shift is emerging but the exact scale and level of impact is still challenging to gauge because we’re still in the middle of highly dynamic changes across multiple fronts. In brand context it can be a case of evaluating if an emerging trend is niche or of a bigger mass impact which triggers widespread adoption and how that in turn impacts your business model.

For businesses the scale and impact of a trend can be a moveable feast or famine, depending on your business and brand resilience, moving from the extremes of total devastation to huge growth driving opportunities. It’s challenging to predict where disorder and risk comes from — those unexpected, rare or highly impactful events. However you can mitigate risk and vulnerability by building brand and business resilience.

Related: Brand Building, 15 Short Term Ways to Build Your Brand for the Long Term

A useful reference for this is Nassim Nicholas Taleb known for the antifragility, black swan theory. Fragile businesses are disproportionately harmed by unexpected shocks or massive trends because they’re not agile, innovative or adaptable even though they’re good at what they do. 

Robust businesses stay the same and survive big shocks or trends because they have strong cash reserves and an ability to ride out the storm. 

Antifragile businesses proactively seek stress, grow strong and build through uncertainty, they’re highly innovative with a robust culture of continuous innovation. These are the businesses that look for waves of change, anticipate and build for impactful trends. In fact, they use them to accelerate their business to the next level — all of which requires a very different mindset from leadership and throughout an organisation culturally.

branding trends

Image via Amazon © Nassim Nicholas Taleb

So evaluating the current branding trends, and potential future emerging trends, and how they impact your business can be the decider between thriving or barely surviving. 

If your business and brand doesn’t have built in resilience then maybe now is a good time to re-evaluate things with a brand audit and overall business health check. Ideally you need a culture of continuous, real innovation, driven at a leadership level so you’re managing the force of change rather than being badly shook up by the uncontrollable forces impacting you on all fronts — you’re the intentional disruptor challenging the status quo.

Related: Branding Psychology in Adversity – 7 Ways You Can Embrace Behavioural Shifts to Grow Your Business

Here we’re sharing some of the key trends emerging at present so you can use them to help you identify vulnerabilities and opportunities. The question is, are you an antifragile business intentionally built to leverage branding trends or vulnerable to big market and societal changes?

1. Branding Trends – Environmental Footprint and Sustainable Consumption Increases in Importance

The environmental platform particularly around climate change and carbon emissions continues to grow apace. This used to be something associated more with socially conscious brands, but it has come increasingly into the mainstream. It is a key part of some businesses’ approach now, not just a nice to have tactical marketing message.

This can be seen at a communication level but also at a packaging level. For example, mineral water brands Evian and Volvic have launched a fully recyclable bottle. It can also be seen at the product level, as seen in the rapid growth in non-meat burgers which is partly driven by environmental concerns.

branding trends

Image via Business Green © Evian

The drivers for environmental footprint were already in evidence for some time. High-profile figures like Sir David Attenborough have led the discussion around climate change for decades, long before it became a significant trend. 

Many consumers have also started to consider whether importing goods from thousands of miles away is the right thing to do when local businesses in their community are struggling. Nearshore matters more than ever before, particularly because of supply chain disruption caused by Covid-19 with long distance vulnerabilities. 

It’s led people throughout society to reassess the real cost of a highly globalised supply chain. So, the branding trend of minding climate change and environmental impact is not limited to customers who were traditionally driven by ecological motivations alone.

branding trends

Image via © Oxfam

A case study is charity shop Oxfam’s “Second Hand September” initiative. This brand activism campaign is interesting because it shows how an organization can take a fairly abstract concern like environmentalism, over which individual consumers may feel they have little influence, and land it in a concrete action the consumer can take. The September timing of the campaign coincides with people’s return to work after they had been on holiday and thinking about their own environmental footprint. This was a particularly smart move to maximise the campaign impact.

We know that sometimes it’s a struggle to build a brand strategy that really engages your ideal customers effectively, particularly in adversity, so we’ve developed three different ways of working with us to help you build your brand, depending on your preferences, so if you’d like us to:

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MGI Learning“Lorraine Carter has been the catalyst and an inspiration for MGI Learning to clearly define our brand.

Working with Lorraine has been both enlightening and enjoyable. Her blueprint for defining a brand is extremely comprehensive and challenged us to think very deeply about what we offer to our customers and really understand what underpins our success.

Lorraine is extremely knowledgeable, very focused and supportive and leads you through the process and ensured we got maximum benefits from the investment we made.”

Shona Cooper
Shona CooperCEO

2. Branding Trends – The Need for Authenticity Grows in 2020

Authenticity has been a trend in branding for a number of years. This has manifested itself in different ways, from unfiltered tone of voice and a “no filter” trend in communications generally, to being very transparent about ingredients. 

For example, brewer Brewdog shares the recipes for all of its beers so that homebrewers can try to make them at home if they want. This is a subtle way to communicate that a brand has the positive attributes associated with a homemade product, a shorthand for simple authenticity.

branding trends

Image via © Brewdog

There is what a leading advertising magazine calls a “trust crisis” [1]. This has been growing and affects a lot of brands. Finding ways to showcase their authenticity and even their imperfections can be a way to grow trust [2]. That is good news for SMEs, who tend to feel less homogenized in that regard than mammoth organisations.

A case study which has attracted a lot of free publicity is Burger King’s advert showing what a burger without preservatives looks like as it grows mould. For a big standardized brand like Burger King to use authenticity can feel contrived, so this is an interesting approach showing the power of the authenticity trend. 

branding trends

Image via Creative Review © Burger King

Related: Brand Voice, Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

3. Branding Trends – Kindness Comes to the Fore in 2020

There has been something of an anti-social media backlash in recent years, with declining use of some key social media platforms amongst younger consumers. This trend is set to continue in 2020 and is morphing into a broader trend of finding positive ways to connect with people. 

The Coronavirus has brought this even more to the fore, with home isolation and elderly vulnerability leading to people rethinking what community means.  Supermarket chain Iceland reserving an hour for pensioners-only shopping is a practical manifestation of this [3]. The kindness trend is a corollary to the environmental trend – people want to feel they have some personal impact, and making their behaviour kinder is a way to do this. 

A simple version is Yorkshire Tea’s publicised “Be Kind to Others” tactical social media posting. But at a more strategic level this can involve thinking about kindness more broadly and how it fits with your brand promise. For example, Nivea reframed softness as being kind to yourself, which fits well with their personal care product lines. 

Related: How Branding Strategy is Different to Marketing

Kindness sometimes has soft, altruistic connotations. Indeed it can be used in building brands for social organisations and charities not just businesses. Take for example the Mental Health Foundation with its random act of kindness generator on its website. The simple execution of enabling visitors to generate one small act of kindness to help others in turn promotes positive mental health in the community.

branding trends

Image via © Mental Health Foundation

A commercial case study of this emerging trend is Be Kind snack bars. Snackbars commonly share a standard marketing challenge – how to frame a portion control concept in a way which doesn’t risk sounding negative about the consumer. 

The Be Kind branding has turned this into a very positive story about being kind to oneself, which ladders up to broader notions of kindness. This is a smart way for a brand to benefit from wider trends which can connect to its benefits. It means that its own brand communication has less work to do because it piggybacks on bigger thinking or feelings that the target consumer already has engaged in.

Related: Use Psychology in Your Brand Strategy to Create Irresistible Brand Experiences and Increase Sales

Are you a business leader, manager or entrepreneur who wants to re-evaluate or build your brand strategy so you can effectively leverage 2020 branding trends and increase your sales? Are you curious about how to build or scale a highly successful standout brand? Join one of our branding workshops because they empower you to build your brand, enhance customer experience, expand your market impact and create higher perceived value so you can command a premium. 

In fact, the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is all about fast-tracking you, your brand and your business through the brand building, agile branding strategy process using professional big-brand know-how with proven systems that get results so you can grow your business faster and more effectively. 

The programme enables you to make your brand highly visible, different, credible, trustworthy, memorable and much loved amongst your ideal customers so you can become more profitable and leave your competitors way behind. Be The One — your ideal customers’ favourite brand of preferred choice commanding a premium.

If you want a tailor-made solution specifically for your brand then we also provide inhouse bespoke Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Intensives working with you and your team so you can grow your business faster and more profitably. Contact us to discover more [email protected] or +353 1 8322724

Branding Building Masterclass

“We participated in the Persona 7-Figure Business Building & Brand Strategy Mastermind 12 week online course. The 12 week program suited us as the weekly accountability spurred us on to get work done between sessions.

We found the flow of the course appropriate for the development of the brand through the various areas of the business.
Already, we have developed our Customers Persona’s and our Brand Persona adding value to the business.
The course has helped us make more astute decisions in the business such as restructuring our product offerings so we grow more profitable lines and remove those with lower margins.
Lorraine is very helpful and accessible as a tutor with follow up after each working session and the half day masterclass. Most of all the clarity achieved has been most invaluable.

In the first two weeks of March 2020, before Covid-19 required us to close, we were 300% up in our online sales compared to the whole of March 2019 and after reopening April 2020 we were back to 108% by the end of May 2020 — results achieved from applying our brand strategy.

Sinead Heffernan
Managing Director
Sinead HeffernanManaging Director, Thunders Bakery

4. Branding Trends in 2020 include using Social Media More Strategically

One of the key branding trends in 2020 is the way organisations use social media. Social media is a huge part of many branding endeavours and has been for many years. However, for most organisations, optimising how to use it remains work in progress. They want to make it more strategic and less tactical.  

This is seen in a shift from brief conversations or snapshot images to longer form content. For example, broadcaster ITV has launched The Rundown, a Newsround style news video for teenagers. 

The long-awaited launch of short video site Quibly with its famous backers and deep pockets could also help drive more engagement with short form content which runs to minutes not seconds. Even Snapchat has increased maximum brand video length from ten seconds to three minutes. These longer form platforms allow more strategic brand messaging.

Related: Using Video To Broadcast Your Brand Message So You Attract Your Ideal Customers 

Another example is Internet giant Google’s B2B campaign targeting businesses about their advertising spend. It plays to the trend of businesses getting a lot more strategic about their social media activity.

5. Branding Trends are ‘Local’ in 2020

Provenance has been growing in importance in branding strategy over some years. That has been due to both pull factors such as carbon footprint and perceived authenticity as well as push factors such as increasing trade barriers and supply chain disruption. 2020 has seen significant, rapid increases in trade barriers and supply chain disruption which mean this trend may accelerate even more than we foresaw at the start of the year.

This is reflected in the emergence of a marketing trend known as hyperlocal marketing. For some years there has been talk about big data and how it might actually be used. Hyperlocal marketing uses data to help organisations target their marketing to very specific geographic sets of consumers.

Related: 4 Ways You Can Be More Customer-Centric to Grow Your Business

This is not just a technology trend, however, but also one that can be seen directly in the customer experience. For example, The Brink Local Alehouse in Manchester taps into this. There, everything served is from within a 25-mile radius of the pub. That is part of a shift to hyperlocal production and marketing by many craft beer brands [4].

If you’d like to discover more about building and maintaining a thriving, high performing, highly profitable standout brand, then get in touch because we’d love to help you make your brand into a profit powerhouse.

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Lorraine Carter is a branding expert and international speaker delivering talks that inspire and motivate along with masterclasses and workshops that inform and support transformational outcomes fast, and consultancy expertise that solves problems — using agile branding strategy underpinned by professional big-brand know-how — so you can outshine, outperform and leave your competitors way behind. 

She enables you to Be The One — your ideal customers’ favourite brand — commanding a premium with 7-figure growth.

Brand Identity“Lorraine Carter is my branding mentor, she’s the person that showed me how to improve my personal and business brands — they were a mess when she initially looked at what we had — and she blew my mind! I’ve paid high fees to other ‘supposed’ brand consultants who only had 30% of her in-depth expertise and they couldn’t deliver on what we needed.
She gives you the key foundations and lays things out in an easy to use system which gives you all the essentials needed to make your brand stand out, to make your brand highly visible. If you use her branding strategy system you’ll soon have everyone talking about your product or service to become No.1 in your market.
Lorraine takes no name companies and transforms them into household brand names. Most importantly, she’s great fun, absolutely passionate about branding and she’ll entertain you whilst demystifying branding and making the unknown clearer — because designing a logo is only a tiny part of your entire branding process.
I would highly recommend the Mastermind programme to every entrepreneur who wants to be more successful and have a clear message driven by their brand.
Thank you so much Lorraine for all your help. We wouldn’t be so well known in the USA, UK or Romania if it wasn’t for your direction and input to develop and build our brand.”
Ozana Giusca
Ozana Giusca

6. Branding Trends – Making People Smile Even in Adversity

Branding involves creating a hook which enables better conversations between brands and users. Making people smile can be one way to help this, whether it is through a wry joke or a pleasant unexpected bonus. 

For example, T-Mobile’s response to the coronavirus outbreak included free calls to numbers in hard hit countries – a small but thoughtful gesture which no doubt made a lot of price-conscious customers worried about friends or family overseas smile when they heard about it.

Humour swings in and out of fashion in branding based on the wider public mood. In recent years people have felt more pressure and the tone of public debate has often been downbeat. So striking the right note with humour can offer a way out of this as long as it is done in a way which doesn’t feel out of place.

Related: Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales 

branding trends

Image via YouTube © Jeep

A case study was actor Bill Murray’s 2020 Superbowl advert for Jeep. In it, he reprised his role from “Groundhog Day”. Bringing a smile to people’s faces like this led to a big uptake in marketing awareness for Jeep [5]

7. Branding Trends – Shopstreaming is Rewriting The Playbook for Retail and eCommerce

With the restrictions of lockdown in a pandemic world, followed by the reluctance to re-engage in a physical activity that might be perceived as risky for some customers, online retailing has been massively accelerated. Millions of people have made purchases online for the first time in 2020. Until recently, Amazon’s ubiquitous and pretty homogenous functional experience with its relentless focus on customer choice has defined customers’ online shopping expectations around the world. 

However, in the absence of ‘physical shopping’, experiential online retail is a growing branding trend that’s seen a huge surge in China. It opens up new opportunities for retailers of all sizes, small and large. In a nutshell shopstreaming offers a mix of entertainment, community and a different kind of ecommerce experience — so feeding a new kind of customer expectations. It can be readily adopted by the smaller, local retailer to offer a very personable customer experience with a strong emphasis on brand personality

So the question is, could you create a live, online, interactive shopping experience where your ideal customers come to shop, hang out together and foster your own brand loyal community, who not only buy from you regularly, but become your brand advocates championing your brand for you online?

Final Thoughts

Branding trends matter because they help us understand more broadly how customers are thinking and feeling, which enables us to influence their decision making more effectively. 

Some branding trends in 2020 reflect a shift towards the desire for a kinder, more authentic feeling world. Even the smallest brand is well-placed to communicate this. The upside of localness is another key trend, as is helping to bring a smile to people’s faces even during challenging times. 

Tactics and strategy are not the same thing but often confused. Strong brands bounce back faster and take market share over weak ones so building a robust brand strategy that enables you to leverage branding trends, coupled with a culture of innovation, are the underpinning factors for long term success. This is proven multiple times from previous recessions so now is not the time to sit back with a ‘wait and see’ attitude. 

Now is about doubling down and moving forward effectively, addressing vulnerabilities, putting strong brand strategy in place and executing on it with relentless focus and consistency. The question is, are your brand strategy and marketing plans reflecting or leveraging these 2020 branding trends? Are you an antifragile business? The brand thriving in uncertainty to Be The One.

Questions to Consider

  1. What could you start right now to ensure you have an antifragile business and resilient brand intentionally built to thrive in uncertainty and leverage branding trends?
  2. What about your brand would make customers feel it was authentic?
  3. What is the connection between kindness and your brand personality?
  4. How could you make your brand’s social media use less tactical and more strategic?
  5. What local stories could your brand own?
  6. What could your brand do to bring even a small smile to people’s faces this week and the coming month?
  7. Could you use a brand audit health check to identify how and where you could make a culture of innovation and that critical digital transformation leadership mindset your secret weapon?

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