As 2014 draws to an end, now is the time to review, revamp, and update your branding strategies for the year to come. Successful branding is the key to driving business growth and profitability – and in 2015, it will be more important than ever to have a strong, thriving brand.
In the coming year, to be successful branding will need to be even more customer-centric. Honesty, transparency, personalisation, and social responsibility will hold center stage, and the technologies that drive an effective brand strategy will be mobile, responsive, and real-time. Here’s a look at the top 20 branding trends your business can expect for 2015.
Top 20 Branding Trends for 2015
1. Authenticity Drives Success
More than ever, your customers want to feel connected to your brand. Being authentic enables this type of connection, so make this a key strategy for 2015. Use valuable content and brand collateral to engage your target market and give your customers the opportunity to participate in your brand story. You can see more about what we mean by this in our recent blog about ‘Millennial Branding’ with particular reference to how Marriott International is making its customers feel authentically connected and participatory in their brand. With authenticity, you can create an audience of powerful brand ambassadors and harness the single most effective marketing force: word of mouth.
2. Mobile Matters More
While mobile markets have been growing continually, expect 2015 to be the year they explode. More of your customers will be using mobile than ever before – and you’ll need a brand strategy that responds to their needs.
Recent research from eMarketer shows that:
- 50% of shoppers who conducted local searches on smartphones visited the store within one day
- 18% of local smartphone queries led to a purchase
When it comes to marketing brands online, mobile inclusion is headed into mobile-first. Make sure you’re prepared with responsive design and increased mobile spends for your brand campaigns.
3. Metrics Turn Toward Revenue
Technology continues its rapid advancement, and in 2015 brand analytics will be more focused on revenue. This is made possible through automated marketing tools that measure brand performance in real time, allowing brand strategies to adapt quickly to suit emerging trends and changing customer tastes. Real-time brand analytics will also be critical to gain a competitive advantage for your brand.
4. Segmentation is Key
Many brands have the capability of appealing to different market segments, but not all are taking the opportunity to segment and diversify their brand campaigns. But in 2015, increasingly savvy customers will know exactly what they’re looking for – and your brand needs to deliver. This includes diverse sets of brand messaging, brand channels, and marketing approaches customised to each of your target demographics. A brand needs a well developed brand profile, using a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ which is used to create its story, values, promise, mission, personality, positioning and so forth in order to achieve cohesive brand messaging and effective segmentation successfully.
5. Brand Targets are Ultra-Personalized
Closely related to segmentation, 2015 will be the year of the customer, with individualised brand campaigns to match. Advanced customer data capture and innovative manufacturing techniques have made it possible for brands to deliver unique customisations, shifting the brand target from the masses to the individual. For example, Holiday Inn is moving its branding strategy toward customised holiday experiences that meet the personal needs of the traveller – from families to business travellers, young couples to adventurous singles.
6. Packaging Goes 3D
Brand packaging is a crucial component of your brand’s success, and the arrival of 3D printing technology has made it possible for brands to create innovative, customised packaging designs that draw in customers and stand out on retail shelves. In 2015, consider giving your brand packaging a boost using the latest technologies.
7. Streamlined Naming Conventions
The market is incredibly crowded, and customers’ attention spans are shorter than ever. To boost brand recognition and foster brand consistency, more brands will re-engage fundamentals and use clear, relevant names for products, services, and the overall brand itself. These short and simple names pair well with quick descriptors, creating easy-to-grasp concepts – think Google Wallet, Google Glass, and Google Play or Apple Watch and Apple TV.
8. Brand Stories Take Centre Stage
A compelling brand story will be an even more vital part of heart and mind capture to drive your brand sales strategy in 2015. Powerful and authentic stories that are worked into every element of your branding strategy can lift your brand, and provide the connection your customers are looking for. A great brand story evokes an emotional response, and most importantly, reinforces the brand experience for your customers. Creating irresistible brand stories is a key part of our brand profiling service when working with clients to help them create and build the personality of their brands, using our Brand Story Selling System™.
9. The TMI Line Blurs
For branding in 2015, there will be no such thing as too much information. Today’s customers crave transparency and want to know everything they can about a brand, often before they decide to make a purchase. Much of this transparency will be provided with updated brand packaging that clearly and efficiently conveys a wealth of information, including the brand story. As an example, Stone Creek Coffee’s Lab Series prints detailed coffee bean information on each package, including the elevation the beans were grown, the harvest date, and the name of the farmer who grew them.
Image via www.stonecreekcoffee.com
10. Cross-Channel Integration is Crucial
Brand consistency has always been one of the most important factors in the success of a brand. With more brand channels and customer paths than ever before, integration across channels is a must. Your brand design, messaging, and metrics should be presented uniformly at every touch point – from website and social media platforms to packaging, retail locations, and traditional media channels.
11. Customers will Not be Sold to
The marketing noise level is reaching critical mass. Brands that continue to “pitch” their products or services in 2015 will find themselves ignored. Customers are no longer interested in the salesy, hard-sell approach, and they’re savvy enough to know when your brand message is all buy and no bargain. Look to value-added brand strategies that highlight perception, inclusion, and the customer experience to help your brand sell itself.
12. Brands as a Consolidated Experience
Once again in the vein of brand consistency, the most successful brands of 2015 will present a singular customer experience – no matter where your customers interact with your brand. Your customers’ experience should not vary from PC to mobile to social. Look for ways to streamline your brand collateral and exceed customer expectations, delivering on your brand promise through a seamless presentation on all fronts.
13. The Video Explosion
Online video will continue to expand rapidly in 2015, and video should be an integral part of any branding strategy. Video is a popular, powerful, and engaging medium that helps brands strengthen their messaging and increase profits.
Some of the most recent statistics for online video include:
- 100 million Internet users watch online video every day
- 90% of online shoppers find video helpful
- 64% of online shoppers are more likely to buy after watching a video
- 80% of Internet users recall a video ad they’ve watched online in the past 30 days – and 46% took some action after watching the video ad, from visiting the company’s website to making a purchase
- Video increases marketing email click-through rates by 200 to 300 percent
14. Brand “Smarketing”
The line between sales and marketing is becoming increasingly blurred, and 2015 will see even more integration as online selling converges with internet marketing. Both functions use many of the same techniques for promoting brands, including content creation and real-time engagement, and both have the same goal of revenue generation. Effective brands will combine marketing and sales into a fluid and cohesive set of strategies.
15. Brands Mobilise with Click-and-Collect
UK marketing research firm Mintel predicts that the popularity of click-and-collect (C&C) services will increase in 2015, and about 17% of all Internet retail sales will be collected by customers at these physical service points.
C&C services currently used across the UK include:
- Amazon lockers in London Underground railway stations
- Doddle pop-up parcel collection stores
- Asda and Tesco C&C vans
- Waitrose chilled food lockers
- Argos food lockers (coming in 2015)
In a survey by Mintel, 35% of UK shoppers have used C&C services in the past year, and 64% say they’ll shop more online because of C&C services.
16. CSR Packs a Bigger Punch
Look to corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an even bigger brand trend for 2015. Today’s customers are concerned with both human rights, consumer rights and giving back to the community, and will reward brands that engage in visible social responsibility – while punishing brands that violate those rights.
Issues that matter in particular to UK consumers, according to Mintel, are returns policies, ethical treatment of workers, environmental policies, and negative press coverage. And for millennials, many make purchasing decisions based on a company’s ethical or political stance, such as brands that support the LGBT community.
17. Green Brands
More environmentally conscious consumers mean that brands must be aware of the environmental impact they have, and take steps to mitigate damage and leave a clean footprint. Packaging plays a large role in the battle for environmental friendliness. Brands that emphasize responsibly sourced, recycled, minimized, or biodegradable packaging can expect to be welcomed in 2015. This is a key consideration in all the brand packaging design projects we’re involved in with our clients.
18. Big Data Delivers Brand Insight
As the use of big data becomes more refined and accessible, brands will use it in 2015 to generate more personalisation and segmented brand approaches. Pretargeting is an emerging market strategy that uses big data to target customers based on their behaviours and preferences by delivering relevant messaging during the buying phase, instead of after it.
This type of advanced analytics can allow brands to predict trends before they’ve actually happened. Unilever partnered with Google in 2013 to do this, using big data to predict and capitalise on a rising trend in hair care. The YouTube channel launched by Unilever in response to this trend forecast, All Things Hair UK, became the number one hair care channel in its markets.
19. Social Brand Success is Pay-to-Play
Customers may be spending more time than ever on social media, but they’re spending it being social. The effectiveness of social branding as an organic strategy has diminished but pay-to-play advertising platforms on major social networks have increased in sophistication and effectiveness. Successful social brands will invest strategically in paid social media for smart, segmented campaigns, which will trickle down to increase owned and earned media effectiveness.
20. Facebook Fades for Millennial Brand Audiences
Speaking of social, in 2015 Facebook may not be the go-to network if your brand is targeting millennials and a younger crowd. While the social network with its own major motion picture is still the dominant channel, it’s far from the only game in town. Young people in particular are drifting away from Facebook – so if your brand targets millennials, it may be in your best interests to grow your presence on up-and-coming social platforms, such as Instagram and Tumblr.
At the close of 2014, take the time to thoroughly review your brand strategy. Consider a comprehensive brand audit to gain an accurate picture of your brand performance, and incorporate the trends that will change branding in 2015 with heightened transparency, authenticity, and customer-focused experiences.
So, what do you think?
• Is your brand strategy on track for success in 2015?
• How consistent is your brand presentation across all platforms?
• What is your planned spending for mobile? Video? Social?
• Are you targeting the right channels to connect with your target audiences?
• Does your brand platform represent timeless appeal? Could it benefit from a refresh for 2015?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!