The need for a powerful brand has never been clearer: companies with top brands significantly outperform their peers, and now, more than ever, purchasing decisions revolve around what a brand means and stands for.
Sadly, however, building a brand is never straightforward — there isn’t any ten-step process you can follow to the letter and expect to build an internationally recognizable brand at the end of it. Brand building requires research, investment, and innovative approaches. The largest companies have spent decades trying to build their brand.
One thing that sets brand building apart is its dynamism: brand building strategies change quickly, and what was viable just a few years ago might send the wrong message about your brand today. To be successful, you don’t just need a paystub template to keep track of your complex daily brand building operations and expenses, but you also need to monitor broader trends in branding strategies and position your company to take advantage of them.
#1 More Focus on Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility, both real and imagined, have taken an increasingly important role in public conversation. Just two decades ago, even major scandals featuring a major business’ unethical, environmentally harmful or exploitative behaviors would barely get reported on, and when they landed in a newspaper, it would blow over very quickly.
Nowadays, however, thanks in part to increasing awareness and social media connectivity, a corporation’s practices, supply chains, and even internal dynamics are all heavily scrutinized. The failure to vet supply chains properly can snowball into a scandal that can hurt your brand for years.
A safe prediction to make is that corporate social responsibility will be increasingly important to build a positive brand around your business. And this doesn’t just mean reactive steps to manage various crises and scandals, but it means proactive steps to make your business appear more socially responsible: these steps include donations to specific popular charities, community programs, and more. Successful brand building strategies in the future need to incorporate corporate social responsibility — the degree will vary, however: for some small businesses, just stating your product is sourced from ethical supply chains will give you a considerable boost. For larger businesses, you might need to invest in a community program to make your brand more appealing.
#2 Growth Hacking: Further Reliance on Tech to Build a Brand
Online ad revenue surpassed 100 billion USD in the United States alone for the first time in 2018, and it hasn’t stopped its exponential growth since then. This data point alone should show the increasing importance of online spaces. Many businesses have succeeded in creating a national (and sometimes international) brand for themselves through the use of social media and online tools alone.
Growth hacking, a subfield of marketing, refers to predominantly online tools and techniques you can use to rapidly grow your company. There are many success stories from Gmail to Dropbox where the companies used innovative and creative online marketing ideas to quickly grow and build their brand.
As both digital marketing is set to stay prominent and data-driven algorithms seem to become increasingly prevalent, growth hacking, as an intersection and combination of the two, is going to be more relevant for successful brands in upcoming years. Companies need to learn how to properly build data-driven brand building strategies and use online tools creatively to successfully build their brands.
#3 More Granular Branding Strategies
Crowdculture refers to the phenomenon of tight, relatively insular online communities building around specific media, ideologies, events, etc. It refers to the authentic content and ‘culture’ created by online users in social spaces. This is a phenomenon that isn’t only widely observed today, but trends show that it is likely to become more prominent in the future.
Even people with relatively little engagement with social media understand the different ways you present yourself on sites like Twitter and Facebook with each social media having different norms and etiquette. This extends to brand-building strategies as well. Companies use entirely different brand-building strategies on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., and this won’t change anytime soon.
So, one of the predictions for the future of branding strategy we can be sure of is the increasingly granular and individualized strategies used for different online spaces. If companies want to build successful brands online in the future, they will likely have to have custom strategies that they exclusively use on certain platforms. Today, a strategy that works on Facebook might get a company a lot of pushback on Twitter, and trends show this is only going to become more prominent in the future.
#4 Giving Your Corporation a Human Face: The New Need for Authenticity
The relationship between companies and their customers/consumers is fundamentally changing: nowadays, clients favor companies that provide an individualized experience tailored to their needs. Much like corporate social responsibility, doing business has become about more than just putting out the best value offers.
In the world of large, faceless multinational corporations, individuals put a premium on “authentic” companies that can reliably put a human face on their operations. This has become one of the biggest selling points for small and medium-sized (S&M) businesses, and you’ll hear about a company going viral every month simply because the owner is relatable, its operations are local, its employees feel at home, or a combination of all three.
It is fair to predict that going into the future, one of the main brand strategies will be trying to portray the business as ‘human’ and authentic. This trend is established already in specific industries, but it will probably enjoy economy-wise adoption from businesses in all sectors of the economy from retail stores all the way to banks.
Above, we went through some of the most prominent trends that will likely continue to take center stage in successful brand building strategies in the coming years. Although it is important to keep in mind that not all predictions come to pass, you’ll likely be unable to successfully build a prominent brand in the future without relying on one or more of the above trends. In the world of brand building strategies, however, things quickly change, and you should keep an eye out for changes in trends.