First, let’s start with why you should read this. Admittedly as a Brand Strategist, one of the key things my clients will remember me preaching about is the importance of a good brand strategy versus just looking at the aesthetic. That’s a foundation I am still proud to stand on, however, once you’ve solidified that strategy you have to make adjustments to both elements to stay strong among the competition. Think of your brand as a car. The strategy is the engine, it’s what is going to actually drive you to your end destination. Your look and feel is the body. The reality is, no matter how much of an affinity you have for a “classic”, all cars age into extinction If you don’t put the time in to make adjustments along the way.
These forecasts will guide you on what you need to “tweak” and “polish” in the current year. Not every forecast is relevant to every business, but this is your rest stop to take a good look at the car and figure out whether or not it needs tending to. Stay aware and stay afloat.
Author’s Note: As much as I’d love to take all the credit for the information we’ll explore, I’ve collected these insights from a range of sources, including: Shutterstock, Interbrand, Saatchi & Saatchi and other design and brand research databases.
Forecasted Trend: Roaring 20s Renaissance
If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that trends always come full circle. From the comeback of acid wash jeans to the return of Opal Fruits, the past has a funny way of showing up to haunt us. And arriving at the station right on time 100 years later as we enter the 2020’s, is a major nod to Art Deco and the original Roaring 20s. Geometric elements, rich colour palettes, motion graphics and film mimicking that glamorous old Hollywood style are set to take centre stage. If your brand is known to indulge in a foil embossing this is your year to shine as Shutterstock estimates an 4,223% increase in gold patterns.
Though adjusting your brand’s visual identity to mimic an art deco style may not be a viable option, you can explore these elements through campaigns, social media and other applications where you are free to use a more “creative license”. If none of this applies, simply enjoy the rise of new brands cropping up in this era that bring a fresh take to art deco.
Who should take notice?
For fashion and product brands, you’ve officially been given the go ahead to kick up your social content a notch, incorporating the blend of retro and modern in one elegant twist. However, B2B brands don’t have to shy away from the mix. Patterns, illustration and a bold colour palette can add personality to what some may consider a mundane topic.
Note: don’t try this at home without expert advice. If you have a brand agency or internal brand guardian, discuss your plans with them before pushing forward down a route that could be detrimental to your existing brand.
Forecasted Trend: Purpose-Living Brands
If you’ve been to any seminar, seen any LinkedIn news feed, or read any marketing trends updates in the last three years, you’ve heard the term “purpose-lead brand” one too many times. Yes, it’s true. Younger generations expect more from the brands they purchase from and engage with. However, it’s not just about getting a set of clear values and putting them on your walls. You have to walk the walk. In 2020, the reality is if your customers aren’t already calling you out for living against your values, the ASA or other regulators will. From sustainable product packaging and supply chain practices to protest art and grassroots campaigns, this is the year we’ll see a big shift in brands putting their money where their mouth is.
How is this a design trend?
It’s shifting the focus from, “What am I designing?” to “How will this be experienced?” and “What’s the impact of this experience?” From product and collateral design to brand-lead experiences, this shifts the design process from focusing on a flat image to an integral puzzle piece in bringing a purpose to life. Most importantly, if your visual identity doesn’t align with that purpose, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Hint: if you pride yourself on championing diversity and inclusivity, but your photo library has one too many shots of the same models it’s a point worth resolving ASAP.
Who should take notice?
In the world of SMEs (who may feel a little less inclined to get on the path of a clear social stance), I hear justification from both sides on whether or not it matters that an accountancy firm has an opinion on global warming. Here is some guidance: if you’re in a crowded market with nothing else to differentiate you from the competition, as long as it’s relevant to what you sell and your target audience and it’s a core value of the leadership, then having a clear social purpose is important to your bottom line. The question you need to ask yourself is, will it just be a statement I put on my website or is it something my team will rally behind and actually live out? No more talk. You’ve got to ensure you can bring it to life.
Forecasted Trend: Brand Collaboration
With the rise of globalisation, markets in every sector are becoming increasingly more competitive. Naturally, as a leadership team, you’re going to look to differentiate. However, you shouldn’t completely look to isolate your organisation. A trend that started to show its face in 2019 and is forecasted to grow exponentially in 2020 is brand collaboration. When building your marketing strategy, it’s important that you put yourself into your customers shoes. You may already be asking the questions that guide you on the most appropriate channels and messages for building brand awareness and increasing conversion. However, one question you should be asking as a team is, “How does my customer use my product or service?”
This question has two immediate benefits for your team. The most obvious is gathering insight on the adjustments that need to be made from a user experience perspective, i.e. is what we are providing fit for purpose? However, something else you should be considering is what other brands are your customers using whilst they are using or could be using what you sell. A great example of this is Waze and Spotify. If Spotify is an integral part of your morning commute, what else could you possibly need behind the wheel? Navigation. This partnership is a match made in heaven. When you’re on one app, it’s asking if you want to use the other. It’s a brilliant opportunity, but it’s such an easy to miss opportunity. This is your year to figure out what brands sit in your “market” that could be the connection point to reaching more customers.
Who should take notice?
Everyone. If nothing more, sit as a team and brainstorm. Even if the partnership doesn’t come off of the ground, you’ll unlock insights that could radically benefit your marketing plan.
Forecasted Trend: Extended Reality
Technology is part and parcel of our realm as marketeers. Whilst not all of us understand the intricacies of what makes up the technology, we should however understand what’s powering it and how it can influence and benefit our marketing strategies. Although AI (artificial intelligence) is not quite universally adopted by all businesses, it’s starting to show its face with brands in a much more tangible and exciting way.
The trend you need to pay attention to is extended reality.
In a nutshell, this is using technology to create immersive brand experiences from the palm of their hand. Whether that be creating an app to show what a paint swatch would look like on the customer’s walls through their iPhone camera like Dulux or bringing a game out of the phone and into reality like Pokemon Go, these are real examples of how technology can take a brand from the constructs of a mobile or laptop and into the customer’s world.
Whilst a new application may not be in the budget for 2020, at the very least you should be incorporating motion graphics as part of your content plan. In other words, if one brand can create an immersive AI experience, you can start creating graphics that have some life to them. Consumer’s expectations and attention spans are changing. Animation isn’t just a great-to-have, it’s a must-have if you want to stay afloat with the amount of noise that exists in today’s world. The key here is not just utilising animation as a “showcase” piece but using it as a tool that interacts with and engages your customers. Of course, you’ll want your “credentials deck”, but if you incorporate how-to videos, FAQ videos, and video case studies, you’ll find your customers are much more likely to listen to what you have to say.
Who should take notice?
Again, everyone. There are tools that can fit any budget. First, understand how you audience utilises and engages with technology. If you are selling a product to 18-25 year olds, you may need to consider a greater investment in branded AI experiences. However, if you’re a B2B brand mostly gaining leads from LinkedIn, explore how GIFs and animated explainer videos can boost your online presence.
Forecasted Trend: Wildlife
This is a fairly vague trend title for a very vast topic. In line with the previous trend, one of the greatest challenges a brand can have is getting their message heard. Not only is it difficult to cut through the noise that exists on the usual marketing channels, it’s even more difficult to get in front of the right people when they are actively “cutting off” social media and the like to shuffle their focus to offline experiences and holistic wellness. Whilst you may have seen a rise in new entrants to the health market, it isn’t just food and retail that need to pay attention. Visually, all brands that engage with consumers (of any variety) need to consider the emotional response their aesthetic can trigger and understand if that is a barrier or a benefit to conversion.
This leads us to the rising trend of showcasing the “great outdoors” and the power this imagery has over emotions. This balances both the craving for overall wellness and experience. Whether it’s creating more brand experiences that connect users to nature or creating a look and feel that harnesses powerful wildlife-lead imagery, this is a signal to everyone in the marketing and design landscape that your visual identity is so much more than just a set of things that create a consistent style. Every element creates a response which needs to align with the overall experience we hope to create for our customers.
Who should take notice?
The clearest call to action is for all B2C brands in the product or wellness service space. In an environment that becomes increasingly plugged in, how can what you offer help customers plug off—be that through what you are selling or through the visual style you use to sell it? However, this is another trend for everyone to pay attention to. Your visual identity is a powerful tool. If you haven’t looked at it in a few years, is it fit for the landscape you are operating in?
Of course, we don’t expect you to remember all of these trends. However, the key message is, take some time to properly evaluate your brand this February so you can ensure you’re fighting fit for 2020.
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