Branding & comms trends for 2017
We’re never happier than when discussing the role brand plays in communications. A coherent brand is what defines communications and shouldn’t really be done without, but what do we mean by brand?
A brand should position an organisation (or product or service) in the market place to meet the needs (or need) of its audiences, providing the foundation to promote a consistent perception regardless of how or where it’s experienced. And by audiences we don’t just mean customers, oh no! We mean everyone involved in and with the organisation – employees, shareholders, partners, the media, etc.
A good brand defines the proposition of an organisation, how it helps achieve its strategic objectives and meets the needs of its audiences. Put simply it is “how it does business”.
The truth is that most organisations are probably already doing most of the things they need to have a great brand; they just aren’t very good at joining the dots and communicating it, so we thought we’d take you on a quick tour of the top branding trends we expect to see in 2017, to see if we can help to bring it all together…
Brand in a Post-truth World
The Oxford English Dictionary named “post-truth” as the Word of the Year 2016, defining it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
While all brands (should) have a story to tell, in a post-truth world it is more important than ever not to over-dress the facts, and even more important to ensure your story is underpinned by brand values and behaviours that are embodied throughout the business and in its products and services. This way, you’re telling nothing but the truth while creating trust and loyalty, not only with your employees, but also with your consumers.
As more focus is put on how brands create value, while remaining authentic and staying true to brand values and behaviours, lets not forget the important role that CSR plays in brand strategy. CSR or as we call it, Responsible Business, is grounded in the concept of a sustainable business – that being the actions and governance the organisation takes, and has in place, that mitigate the actual and potential risks to it achieving its long and short term strategic objectives.
The only way to achieve an effective Responsible Business model is to embed it in all aspects of the way an organisation works and its culture, “how it does business”, making it an inherent part of your brand.
Employees as Brand Ambassadors
We’ve already mentioned that your audiences aren’t just those external to the organisation, employees are as important, if not more so, and we think 2017 will see more and more brands investing in them.
Recognition and reward should be at the heart of any employee value proposition, and any employee value proposition should sit at the heart of your brand. They are the same thing. If your employees have bought-in to the long term success of your company, and understand their role in achieving that success, they’ll be the best brand ambassadors you can find.
Brand Building via Emotional Connections
The rise in social media usage and number of new channels appearing year on year has taught us that two-way communication, personalisation and authenticity all need to sit at the heart of stakeholder communications in 2017. Traditional “broadcast” communications will do less and less for your brand, rather the focus should be on building emotional connections.
Being ‘Social’ means being part of a community, so listening and then tailoring communications to suit your audiences requirements, then monitoring and adjusting (to show you’re still listening and that you care) is key. Within this, remaining authentic while tailoring content is a must in order to create real connections. This is where your brand framework should really come into play.
Brand Storytelling via Video
We’ve been talking about the importance of video for years, but in 2017, as smart phones get smarter and social media functionality such as Facebook Live grows in popularity, brand content is going to become more and more video-based. Think about how you can use this trend to create social content and build emotional connections guys…
Developing a Gen Z Voice
Womens Wear Daily tagged Generation Z as “the next big retail disruptor” in 2015, but as 2017 sees the oldest of this demographic cohort graduating from college, brands need to be thinking about some of the other trends mentioned here when figuring out how best to communicate with them. SoLoMo (Social, Local Mobile) continues to be the order of the day.
Mobile-First for Hyper-personalisation
Local marketing, re-targeting, and micro-moments are being leveraged by brands via hundreds of mobile apps. According to Google, “Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device—increasingly a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.” What are your consumers’ micro-moments and how can you meet them in these?
British brands and Brexit
We think Brexit may hold an opportunity for British brands as we gain back some of our independent ‘coolness’, but whatever happens post Brexit, brands that hold strong associations with their British heritage are going to have to play it out carefully, being cautious not to get caught up with connotations of being mired in the past or xenophobic.
Brand Reputation and Cyber Security go hand in hand
A brand’s reputation can be the biggest casualty in a cyber attack, evidenced by high-profile resignations of company executives and plummeting share prices in the aftermath of a data security breach.
The harm done to brand reputation can be long lasting and hard to control.
Breached companies could liable for significant compensation to customers and suppliers, face closer scrutiny and higher fines from regulators, and will likely struggle with a sudden drop in sales or loss of business.
Cyber security is not just for the IT geeks, but should be considered across the business, and especially by those who are responsible for an organisations reputation.