Want to know how Apple can charge two or three times the price of its competitors for the same hardware and why Harley Davidson’s sales never slump even though their bikes get outperformed by most of the competition?
Both of those landmark companies didn’t try to be the best at everything and they certainly haven’t gone out of their way to appeal to everyone. Instead, they focused hard on their core audience and built a community that people want to be a part of.
A successful brand doesn’t need to market a product specifically because they’ve already established themselves as a staple of the lifestyle their customers want to lead.
A key trait of successful brands is knowing when it’s time to evolve and where the future of their audience is headed. To help gain some insight into how brands will evolve in the years to come (Hint: Platforms) we asked a group of industry experts…
What’s the future of branding?
Their answers may have you re-evaluating your own brand…
Dan Hill, CEO of Hill Impact
“Branding will move from the outside in. Today’s focus on projecting will transform into a process of revelation. Brands will worry less about positioning to match audience and more about matching purpose to actions. Authenticity will finally be what great brands are rather than what great brands aspire to be.”
Erin Pederson, Founder & COO of Markett
“The top brands of the future must create great products and be authentic in understanding benefits and identity those products provide to their users. This means first creating strong awareness, with a defined point of view about your company. Once people start to know and love you, your top ambassadors and influencers will create content and market for you. If you listen to what they’re saying, they will help craft your future performance marketing messaging.”
Daryl Weber, Brand consultant & Author of Brand Seduction
“There is an awakening happening, and many people in marketing are not even aware of it. Recently, the major shifts of digital and social media dominated the changes in marketing and branding, then it was big data. But the latest shift, and the one that will likely have the most lasting impact, will be our increased understanding of how the consumer’s brain works.
Over the past few decades, neuroscientists, psychologists, and behavioral economists have made great strides in increasing our understanding of the unconscious mind, how our decision-making works, and how consumers really build loyalty to brands. Much of this new understanding goes against much of what most people – and marketers – assume about the mind. As this understanding gains more traction, and as we learn more, marketers will be much better equipped to build brands that truly resonant with the consumer mind.”
Brett Webb, Vice President, GM North America for Favorite Medium
“An organization’s brand has traditionally been defined by things like logo, colors, fonts, tagline and how employees interact with customers. Increasingly, interactions with a brand are not performed by a human employee – they happen via API, Bot (via voice, chat or text), Phone Tree or FAQ on a website.
The human interactions won’t go away completely, for most companies. These new modes of communication increase the opportunities for a brand to express their qualities to their customers and partners. Brand will be defined by the customer or users methods and features supported for interaction.
Do you allow your customers to interact programmatically, via things like an API?
Do you allow them to manage their own data that you possess?”
Ankitaa Gohain Dalmia , Founder and Digital Marketing Strategist at AnksImage
“Branding is getting more synonymous with personalization. The more companies put in an effort to connect to the public through branding, the more it will focus on customer experience and experience personalization to leave a mark on the customer, thus ensuring brand loyalty. Today, we are already shifting from features of the brand to benefits of the brand, simply because the consumer is more interested in talking to the brands, rather than have the brands at them. Engagement is more vital than reach. Engagement will drive business decisions, for all stakeholders. Branding, when done in the right manner for engagement, ensures the brand is in front of its target audience, baring its soul to the ones who care, and grabbing the attention long enough to make a sale, as well as promote brand loyalty. In 10-15 years, brands will become more human.”
Patrick McFadden, Founder of Indispensable Marketing
“The future of branding is less about logos and more about becoming knowable, likeable, and trustable. Years from now, branding will be about organizing that experience in which a consumer takes to your business rather than forcing them into the journey that fits your business model. The common challenge will be that large and small organizations have a problem standing out. Products and services will be largely undifferentiated to consumers, and trust will be at rock bottom, especially for unfamiliar brands. So, in order for your organization to be successful, you’ll need one very important thing: a differentiated buying experience you create and own.”
Seth Gilgus, Digital Marketing Specialist at Online Optimism
“The future of branding is bright! As millennials mature and their incomes increase over the next 10-15 years, their purchasing power is going to become much greater than what it is now. With millennials coming to age in an era dominated by unique brands, such as Apple, Google, Amazon, and so on, their perceptions of branding will become a common factor in their decision-making processes when they make purchases. This means businesses, especially new businesses, wanting to achieve wide popularity need to approach their branding with significant consideration as to what will make them stand out from their competition and portray them as “special”.”
Jason Lavis, Managing Director at Out of the Box Innovations Ltd.
“We’re seeing increasingly granular capabilities of search algorithms, the mistrust of the mainstream media, and the preference for micro tribal activities on social media.
Put these forces together, and branding will continue to be hyper targeted and niched down. Entrepreneurs realize that is best to dominate a small market, than to be in the middle of a mass market. For a product or service to be successful, sometimes only a few thousand fans/customers are needed.”
Betsy Lard, Vice President at Addison Whitney
“Brands will see an ever-increasing responsibility and importance in ensuring that their employees understand and live their brand values every day, and are trained to be the best ambassadors for their brands. In an ever-expanding digital space, the face of these brands will continue to be the employees, who will be tasked with embodying the best values and characteristics of the brand. Brands are being judged more and more like people, being punished for their missteps, and who are expected do the right thing even if it is hard for the brand, and even if nobody is looking.
Determining your brand’s target audience is one of the foundational concepts of brand building. However, in the future, the level of effort to which brands will put into more specific brand targeting will increase. Consumers want to feel as if they are unique and that the brands they interact with are catered just for them. The challenge is creating a brand that feels like it is built for one person, but actually speaks to a larger group of consumers.
In the area of naming and verbal branding, the future will bring a rise in brand names whose goal is to be ownable within their space. Simple, easy to remember and easy to recognize in a variety of platforms will be some of the driving forces behind brand name development and rebranding. All bands want to be the standout brand in the space, to the level where their name, which may have little to no connection to their actual product or service, becomes synonymous with that very thing.”
Drew Thomas , Ecommerce consultant & Founder of Really Simple Store
“Individual people and their personal brands will be a huge part of what makes a company’s brand. Think about sports teams today. The Cubs have a long history and a strong brand, but the Cubs in 1908 were a very a different organization than they were in 2016… but they’re still the Cubs. Companies will attract and create personal brands that will help define and reinforce the company’s brand and mission.”
Anica John, CEO of Kid Things
“The future of branding is personalized interactions with consumers, based on their particular tastes and preferences. To stay competitive, brands must reach out to the consumer with strong value propositions for what consumers need, when they need it. The rise of chatbots and messaging apps are setting the standard for on-demand, round the clock services that are highly responsive consumer requests. A great example of this next generation brand presence is Sumazi, a data intelligence platform that direct messages potential leads over social media with personalized content about brands of interest. Another one is Kid Things, a personalized shopping solution for parents that operates completely over text and makes curated recommendations for children’s apparel and products based on parents’ brand preferences, parenting philosophy, and budget.”
Ilan Kasan, CEO of Exceed.ai
“I believe that in addition to websites, mobile apps and email, messaging application such as facebook messenger will become a new frontier for brands to communicate with their users. Brands will establish personalized relationships with their customers by having one on one personalized conversations with their customers using AI driven chatbots. The chatbot will be able to address user questions and concerns, engage them with relevant content. It will become a new medium to drive inbound and outbound campaigns and more.”
Erica Warren, Chief Creation Cultivator for CreationSpeak
“You don’t own your brand narrative. The golden age of the television, mass marketing, the advertising rule of tell them seven times all made it possible to overwhelm an audience and own a brand narrative. Gone is that day. Today, digital empowerment of customers means one viral video from one customer can rewrite your whole narrative in a moment. What does that mean for 10-15 years in the future?”
Customers will own a brand’s narrative, and the brand’s job will be to curate, evolve and engage that narrative in real time. Extended marketing planning cycles will give way to micro strategies that evolve interaction by interaction. Fueled by Artificial Intelligence (AI), like IBM’s Watson and Salesforce’s Einstein, that intake massive amounts of data and offers adaptive insight, not just analysis; customers will dictate what a brand means to them and tell that story with more authenticity and velocity than a brand ever could. Tomorrow’s winners will be brands who start now to release narrative control and embed AI into their marketing and operations.”