Trends – From Inspiration to Tangible Strategies
We’re at the typical time of year when everyone is releasing their trend report (psst – we are too!). And while these reports can be a great source of perspective and inspiration, they can also feel complex, overwhelming, and ambiguous. For that reason, many businesses find it challenging to take inspiration from paper and turn it into tangible organizational strategies. Fortunately, incorporating expanding trends into your brand strategy doesn’t need to be.
Rather than getting lost in the sea of trends, here are three steps that you can take to prioritize what’s relevant and move to action faster than your competitors.
- Identify who your customer is – and if this trend applies to them
Trends serve a great purpose of getting a pulse of where ideas and behaviors are starting to shift, but that does not necessarily mean that it matters to your customers. Take the time to understand which trends are relevant to your customers’ lives’ in order to shape your brand’s response.
A great example of this is the trend of “Collaborative Magic” – which speaks to the movement of growing online ecosystems of communal creativity. We see this come to life for brands like Disney Parks who is leaning into the social media platform TikTok as a window for consumers to express fandom and create community. On the flip side, this trend may not hold the same meaning to a life insurance brand where the product, while important and a key benefit, targets consumers differently, and who may have little interest in these online environments or social media interactions with the brand.
- Drive organizational alignment to the strategy
Once you understand which trends influence your customers’ feelings and behaviors, the next step to driving effective change is to revisit your corporate purpose and make sure the trend is aligned with your brand and business strategy. Now more than ever, consumers look to brands to do more and walk the walk, not only when it comes to their products, services, and experiences, but also through their values, culture, and social policies. These types of shifts can only be felt if the brand strategy permeates an organization, and is not siloed to marketing, product development, or insights.
- Determine the best way to bring it to life – and do so authentically
Consistent delivery builds trust, and when a brand can successfully connect new strategies to their customers’ values AND deliver on them, brand loyalty benefits. When they don’t connect, a brand’s authenticity may be in question or appear tone-deaf. We all know the cautionary tales of brands that take a stance on a topic and fall flat. Think of Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad in 2017. Before you jump on a trend, take steps to ensure you act in a meaningful and authentic way.
A new year brings opportunity for reevaluation and realignment of your customer-centric strategies, but it’s important to remember your customers’ values didn’t drastically change as the clock struck midnight. By making customer understanding your true north and championing that understanding throughout your organization, the execution and delivery of new brand strategies will feel natural for internal stakeholders, as well as authentic to your customers.