Have you ever wondered how Apple can charge two or three times the price of its competitors for the same product or why Samsung sales never slump even when there are cheaper and effective offerings from competitors in the market? Well, the easy and pragmatic answer is that both of those landmark companies never try to be the best at everything (and it is impossible for any to be, anyway) 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 (the introduction of any new model of their products says it all, at all times). A successful brand doesn’t need to market a product specifically because it has already established itself as a staple of the lifestyle its customers want to lead.
A key trait of successful brands is they know when it’s time to evolve and where the future of their audience is headed. They invest enormous resources in understanding the psychology of their customers and leverage such in product development, including design, as well as marketing amongst others. Infact, such brands seem to see into the future of their markets.
Brands that will dominate the future understand that you do not 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. They know that those days are long gone. Instead, today, digital empowerment of customers means one viral video from one customer can rewrite your whole narrative in a moment.
Customers now own brands’ narratives, and the brand’s job is to curate, evolve and engage that narrative in real time. Extended marketing planning cycles are giving way to micro strategies that evolve interaction by interaction. Customers now dictate what a brand means to them and tell that story with more authenticity and velocity than a brand ever could. Today’s winners are brands who know to release narrative control and embed Artificial Intelligence into their marketing and operations.
Today’s effective and market winning branding processes are built on 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.
Individual people and their personal brands have become a huge part of what makes a company’s brand. Think about sports teams today. European football giant, Real Madrid, have a long history and a strong brand, but Real Madrid in 1950 were a very different organization than they were in 2020… but they’re still Real Madrid, and many footballers dream of wearing their iconic white jersey. Companies will always attract and create personal brands that will help define and reinforce the company’s brand and mission
Brands now 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 to do the right thing even if it is hard for the brand, and even if nobody is looking.
Determining a brand’s target audience is one of the foundational concepts of brand building. However, today, the level of effort which brands put into more specific brand targeting has increased. 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.
We are 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 it 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.
In the area of naming and verbal branding, we are witnessing 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 are some of the driving forces behind brand name development and rebranding. All brands 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.
With millennials coming of 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.
Last line: The future of branding is less about logos and more about becoming knowable, likeable, and trustable. Years from now, branding will be about organising 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.