HubSpot says, "Branding is the process of researching, developing, and applying a distinctive feature or set of features to your organization. That way, consumers can associate your brand with your products or services."
Branding is one of the most exciting parts of building your brand, but it can also be one of your top challenges. Creating a distinct, positive perception in your customer's mind using a logo, mission statement, colors, marketing communications, graphics and images isn't simple.
And yet, successful branding is essential to your brand's success. With a bit of focus and the right inspiration, you can create a memorable, distinctive brand. Here are five of the most current branding trends for 2022 to get you started.
1 - Be Part of The Greater Good
In 2018, Greta Thunberg started a strike at her school. Her passionate, tear-filled plea has made her one of the most influential environmental activists today. But it's not the first time someone has called on companies and governments to make our planet one of their top priorities. And it likely won't be the last.
Profit and purpose are merging. More than 80% of millennials report making a positive global difference is more crucial than professional recognition. They believe the primary purpose of business should be about creating social value rather than chasing profit.
Investors are also taking a company's social and environmental impact into consideration. Some shareholders demand tracking and reporting of both positive and negative facets, compelling some of the largest corporations on Earth into action.
So, what does this mean for your brand? It means you should incorporate your company's social and environmental philosophy into your marketing. Just be sure your actions match your words.
For example, outdoor recreation company Fjallraven proactively finds ways to use less water and utilize recycled materials to manufacture their products. Patagonia persuades its customers to think before purchasing new items from their store and offers them an option to trade in their old gear for new.
2 - Offer a Brand Experience
Experiential marketing gives your audience a personalized, meaningful interaction with your brand in a live or online environment. It helps people get to know your brand better – and ultimately influences their decision-making process.
More and more brands are introducing initiatives that deliver sensory experiences consumers want to share via social media channels. The more limited and exclusive, the better – think of a pop-up shop or flash retailing.
Like experiential marketing, brand experience seeks to activate your audience's senses and emotions while connecting with their values, creating long-term memory and behavioral patterns. Rather than being one part of a strategy, brand experience is the overarching strategy that involves the seamless integration of all the touchpoints your consumers have with your brand. This strategic approach is designed to shape the way your audience experiences your brand – from customer service to digital channels, products, services and more.
For example, the well-known beauty brand L'Occitane En Provence created a concept store in Manhattan where customers can interact with the brand in exciting and innovative ways. This innovative store has quaint bicycles, allowing customers to pose on a large screen depicting a beautiful provincial French village scene.
L'Occitane encourages customers to take pictures of the scene and share them on their social media accounts, complete with appropriate hashtags, of course. That way, online customers can be part of the experience. When customers share the images on social media, it increases the buzz and promotes the store.
3 - Incorporate Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is a transformational tool that can create compelling, engaging experiences for your customers. If you're skeptical about virtual reality, the following statistics might convince you:
- ABI Research says VR technology in retail and marketing sectors should generate $1.8 billion by 2022.
- Head-mounted displays (HMDs) for virtual and augmented reality are moving past first-generation devices into moderate adoption. Experts expect shipments for HMD sales to ramp up from 27.5 million in 2018 to 52 million by mid-2020.
With VR, your brand can simulate an immersive environment your customers wouldn't otherwise experience. The interactive 3D world provides a compelling real-time experience similar to real life.
Virtual reality also gives your clients the ability to visualize how they'd use your products more accurately. The result? More confidence in their purchasing decision means more purchases and fewer returns.
For example, the TOMS business model is grounded in making a positive impact in the world. Though the company now simply donates a large share of its profits to special causes, the company used to promote a “sell a pair, donate a pair” strategy. That is, TOMS would donate a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of TOMS purchased.
To illustrate this, TOMS had created the campaign "a walk in their shoes." Shoppers used a VR chair to experience the journey as one customer from California traveled to Colombia to meet a child who had benefited directly from a shoe purchase. While TOMS’ underlying brand strategy has since been replaced, this campaign remains one of the most talked-about applications of VR technology to date.
4 - Be Inclusive
Beauty giant Sephora recently published research that evaluated racial bias in retail. As a result, they issued a thorough action plan to address those results in their quest to deliver experiences that make diverse consumers feel like they belong.
In other words, Sephora knows inclusivity is crucial to the company's success. And it's the right thing to do. The thing about inclusivity is – it needs to be authentic. To build a genuine brand, you need to create a diverse culture, get to know your customers and deliver inclusive experiences.
For example, Microsoft recently learned that children with specific physical disabilities or missing limbs had difficulty playing video games with traditional controllers. The company began working on an alternative controller that included touchpads instead of buttons and bright colors for the visually impaired. Microsoft also opened a communication channel where disabled people who still couldn't use the controller could write to them requesting customizations.
5 - Minimalism
There are countless ways to create a visual identity for your brand. One growing trend is minimalism.
Minimalism is a "less is more” design aesthetic. You strip a design down to the bare essentials using a clean, modern and minimal aesthetic. Minimal designs put a brand and its message before form, allowing for better recognition and more accessible communication with their customers.
For example, Google and Airbnb recently gave their logos a facelift: both chose minimalist sans-serif typefaces. Well-known fashion labels like Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga have also transformed their typefaces.
When you choose simpler fonts and colors for your logo, it's easier to pair with all sorts of supporting graphics. Nike and Levi's are prime examples; both easily recognizable no matter what the background.
Exceptional branding is essential to your brand's success because it’s how your customers perceive and relate to your brand. Successful branding or rebranding takes creativity and thoughtful consideration and planning. If the process feels a bit daunting, don’t hesitate to get help from one of Taylor’s branding experts.