A little caveat to start with you shouldn’t blindly follow trends just because they are trendy. Your brand should be unique and authentic to its mission, purpose, values and vision if any of the following trends don’t fit in with your brand then DO NOT implement these.
This post is a roundup of the emerging trends that are only to get stronger in 2020 and whilst most of this collection of strategic trends are becoming more popular due to their ability to connect the brand its audience in new and authentic ways, you don’t have to follow them all blindly and should consider each before adopting them.
With that disclaimer/caveat out of the way these trends are emerging for a reason and due to a shift in consumer habits, the effect social media has had on how we see ourselves (tribally) and a shift in the way we view brands.
In our article on what are brand values and why are they important for your brand, we outlined that more than ever consumers, fans and commercial partners want to do business with brands they feel have shared values to their own.
So with that in mind here are the 5 trends you should think about implementing into your brand in 2020.
- Branded Experiences
- AI + Immersive technologies
- Brand Marketing
As humans even the most reserved of us love it when someone you’ve barely met gets our name right, knows our favourite sports team or takes an interest in our hobbies and interests.
This is no different from our interaction with brands and this shift whilst happening over the past few years is only going to become more frequent and part of the everyday branded experience.
For years Amazon has shown us things we might like, we’ve had ads appear in our Facebook feeds based off of our interests and even have, direct mail from the shops we frequent giving us money off the products we buy most.
As technology gets better and more commoditized we will see more personalisation across branded content, platforms, apps and even in store.
This trend ties in with some of the others later on including, customer experiences, AI / immersive technologies and storytelling all of which have a focus on the customer being the hero of the story, not the brand.
Brands like Thread which give you personalised clothing recommendations based on your preferences or fitness apps that give you individually customised training plans based on your weight, BMI and workout goal or craft beer subscription plans that learn what you like as you try and rate.
These are all shifts towards a customised branded consumer experience. In a world where everything is moving towards this level of service you want to take steps towards this way of thinking, it doesn’t have to be technology-driven or to the extent of the examples given but a push towards making each individual customer think that every interaction was tailored to them will go a long way in 2020. See some examples below.
Photo by Vi – getvi.com
Vi uses bio sensing headphone to track your workout and give you real time personal trainer style coaching as you run. It also learns from your data and give your goals and tips to improve your times and fitness, it also integrates with all the big health apps, such as Google Fit, Apple Health and Spotify.
Just as there has been a resurgence in direct mail campaigns due to the deluge of email marketing we all receive daily, so has there been a start to a resurgence of physical bricks and mortar shops, pop-up events, expose and festival/street vending with even some purely digital brands such as Netflix now with physical spaces. This re-emergence is partly due to the amount of purely digital brands out there, as well as a wave of craft breweries, artisan shops and healthy deli’s and shops that have come hand in hand with the hipster revolution. And it’s partly due to a craving for authenticity and wanting to really connect with the brand’s we buy from and interact with.
Something we will see more of in 2020 is branded experiences, taking these pop-up events, trade shows, expo’s and branded physical spaces and building out an experiential angle to the brand. More tactile, engaging spaces that challenge our senses and use a mix of technology, theatrics and human authenticity to build up highly memorable brand interactions.
One take on this might be to have a scent or collection of scents that you use in your physical location or event – Smell is the strongest of all the senses, especially when creating memories (why the smell of freshly cut grass can take us back instantaneously to a place in our past).
With more competition than ever before and memorability key to brand awareness and growth, you could see more sensory techniques being used when presenting your brand to help create layered memories across senses to keep your brand top of mind. See some examples below.
Xbox: Survival Billboard
For the launch of the game ‘Rise of tomb raider’ Xbox challenged members of the public to an endurance test to survive some of the world’s most extreme weather conditions for 24 hours.
To showcase their new flights from cold New York, Palm springs Jet Blue hid a number of summer items inside a giant six-foot by six-foot block of ice and told New Yorkers to use whatever they had to chisel the ice away to claim their prize.
AI + Immersive Technologies
Some of these technologies go hand in hand with branded experiences and if you put personalisation and branded experiences together and add in storytelling you get to technologies like augmented reality.
With brands like IKEA allowing you to view a piece of furniture in your living room with their app so you can find the best place to put it before you buy it, choose the perfect colour and find other products you might like based on your preferences to accompany it.
AI has seen the rise in chatbots and these are becoming the standard for brands to use to aid with the automation of general enquiries adding a semi-personalised experience by asking the customer questions and providing links to articles, products, or video presentations without a member of staff being present.
This is notably done through Facebook business pages but is also used by big brands in physical locations on information points and this will only increase with the adoption of this type of technology.
Key things to note with AI and chatbots in particular that most have got wrong so far when it comes to branding is the use of them and how they are implemented.
They too represent your brand and need to speak in your tone of voice, being as close as they can to a member of your team, which requires a branded approach when putting your bot or AI together.
To celebrate the club’s 125th birthday Manchester City have added an interactive element to their stadium tour, giving visitors the chance to ‘sit next to’ and interact with city manager ‘Pep Guardiola’ during a press conference and includes a 360 cinema experience. You can see details of the launch here.
This is something that continues to be at the forefront of branding, marketing and messaging and isn’t going away any time soon.
It is the narrative that ties all of these other trends together and has become a bit of a ‘buzzword’ in the marketing and branding sphere over he past few years.
With the success of business books such as Donald Millers building a Storybrand. A fantastic read and exploration of the main points of the Hero’s journey and how this can be used as a way to structure your brand messaging, the rise of narrative based marketing has really taken hold.
Aside from the fact that storytelling has been part of human culture for 1000’s of years and some psychologists believing we see and think always in a narrative way, storytelling or narrative marketing is popular because of the evolution of the consumer.
Consumers shifting buying habits have meant that brand builders and marketers have had to change how they promote their product or service to stay relevant, resonate and build meaning that people can connect with.
A great way to do this is through storytelling, be it understanding your audiences plight and inviting them into a narrative where you are the guide, or using a narrative to explain the brand’s origin, mission, purpose and values.
Narrative based marketing is nothing new and has been used successfully by some of the world’s biggest brands, but what we are seeing now is this form of marketing matching the current and emerging promotional channels.
With the shift towards video and the evolution of short, snappy content be it on podcasts, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, Instagram TV or Tick-Tock, the art of storytelling is being harnessed to engage consumers, raise brand awareness and delight audiences in a timely and structured way.
This is a great example of a brand using storytelling to get across the magic of the Disneyland brand.
Our brains are wired for stories and this video from Apple hooks you in right away with just enough narrative to make you keep watching to find out how this team of underdogs get everything ready in time for the big presentation.
Everything on this list is brand marketing so why is it considered a trend in itself?
Because along with the shift towards storytelling and authenticity, more and more businesses are realising they need to differentiate, build a brand that stands for something and has longevity and builds a fandom or devoted audience.
You can’t build a fandom anymore just with clever marketing campaigns or celebrity endorsements, although these can still be an effective part of your mix.
In today’s social media-driven world and with more choice in every category than ever before your audience can go online, check reviews, find the cheapest option and ask friends and family for recommendations in record time.
Copycat brands can pop up quickly and undercut your pricing, delivering as good a quality product or at least seemingly so. One of the main things you can’t be easily copied on is your brand, the unique combination of origin, DNA, purpose, vision, mission, values, positioning, product, design, visual identity, tone of voice and personality.
It is this reason that brand marketing is on this list as we’ve seen over the past year a rise in awareness about the importance of a strong brand platform and authentic differentiation.
This is something that isn’t going to go away anytime soon and with more and more businesses understanding the necessity of branding and its role in growth, loyalty, reach, awareness and longevity we will see a lot more about what brands stand for, what they believe, how they are here for you and why they exist.