Magic 8 Ball of Branding Trends
Should I make a change to my brand? IT IS DECIDEDLY SO
If you find yourself seeking branding advice from a magic 8-ball, then this blog is your lucky find.
So do we really know what the future of branding will be? DON’T COUNT ON IT
But we know what works, and with that, the WITH team of 8-ball experts give you our top 8 branding trends that we are expecting to see moving forward for the rest of this year.
TREND #1 - Blast from the Past. With all the technology and noise bombarding us daily, more and more brands are taking us on a trip down memory lane. Used wisely, nostalgia is a powerful tool that conjures brand loyalty through the warm, fuzzy feeling of yesteryear. Used poorly, a brand may simply come off dull and out of touch. So like Jeep’s Groundhog Day commercial or Chobani’s new “Almost Milk” campaign, I’m looking forward to how the past will inspire the branding efforts of 2020.
TREND #2 - Blue Steel Stare Down. No this is not Zoolander, but it is a classic and “it's look is a household name”...it is Classic Blue, the Pantone color of the year. I expect to see it staring at us throughout the year. A little tip, be wise when using and consider it an accent not the main show. You will be thankful when the next color fad hits next year. Which according to Lisette is…..
TREND #3 - Gen-Z Yellow. Move over millennial pink. There’s a new generation in town. Although Pantone revealed its 2020 color of the year to be Classic Blue, I think there’s a stronger contender. Gen-Z Yellow has been making its strides in fashion, and it won’t be long until it takes over the design world. The bright youthful yellow is bold, eye-catching and optimistic, much like the generation it was named after. Gen-Z yellow pairs well with other design trends I predict to see in 2020 like bold artwork, patterns, simple logos and monochromatic style. As the older Gen-Z-ers become part of the working force and gain buying power, trends are shifting to cater to them, so it’s no surprise to see design trends meant to capture and keep their short attention span.
TREND #4 - Walk the talk. In our world today, we're all seeking "authenticity" and it's important for brands to take the lead. We can all eye-roll at the term "authentic brands," but it's because, as marketers, we've been bending the rules of its' definition for far too long. Today, a brand must not only stand for something, but also show it in action. Patagonia, is a brand that has been walking the talk for a long time through their never-ceasing environmental activism, shown recently in their Worn Wear initative. Another brand doing this is Billie, a woman's shaving company standing up against the pink tax. Whatever you stand for don't just say it, display it. Which leads to Alex's point....
TREND #5 - Embrace what it means to be human (again). People relate to one another by establishing mutually understood connections and being vulnerable. The same goes for brands. Brands that express the best character traits that customers strive to possess typically have strong ambassadors as a result. When there are breaks from character, however, the collective conscience that permeates the social network feeds are reliable sources for truth that keep brands in check.
This strive for connection can certainly come back to haunt brands that fail to follow through on their public persona. Does anyone recall the PR disaster that was the physical removal of the passenger aboard a United Express flight #3411? The initial response from leadership was more divisive than united. This is why it’s never been more important to deliver on what’s possible, while also openly admitting mistakes in judgement. It is, afterall, completely human to make them!
TREND #6 - Shot on iPhone. Movies like Tangerine changed how the world thought of iPhone photography and video capabilities. Apple has reinforced this shifting paradigm with their years long shot on iPhone campaign. The reality is, everyone has access to technology that once was reserved for only the most elite creatives. This revolution came just in time for the 2020 pandemic, during which TV shows were produced by webcam and all creative work outside of the home was suspended. Who knows where this trend will lead and how creative work will be influenced by the lasting legacy of this crisis. But today authentic and scrappy creativity is critical, creatives must be adaptable and able to evolve and create no matter the circumstance. We can’t know what awaits us, but perhaps all we need is a little stupid love to get us through.
TREND #7 - Story! I’m a broken record when it comes to citing my “brand trend of the year” because it’s the same answer every year. The future of branding is the same as its past: the importance of making an emotional connection with the consumer. There are famous examples of successful brands (Nike and Apple come to mind, of course) who lead with emotion rather than tactics, but I believe any brand should follow this playbook. Even in an apparent CTA or tactic-first message (NEWER! BIGGER! FASTER! CLEANER!), it’s a marketer’s responsibility to demonstrate how their product is going to make you feel first. This is accomplished with a relatable, resonant and relevant message regardless of the medium. “But Spence, how do I ‘tell a story’ in a little display ad?” Figure it out, I say!
TREND #8 - Great Design Never Goes Out of Style. Being a brand designer for over 25 years, I’ve seen trends come and go and come around again. When you chase design trends too closely, your work becomes outdated pretty quick. This is okay if your work lives in the world of short term communication, but for logo marks and packaging the investment needs to stand the test of time.
For me, great design solves problems. It aligns to strategy, matches a brand’s personality, looks well crafted, and is pleasing on the eyes. That's right, there are a lot of boxes to check off for great design and it usually doesn't happen on the first try. Trends are great for inspiration, but don’t design just to follow a trend. Make sure the trend is right for your project and try to use it in a way that you can make it your own and make it great!