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Brand Strategy trends for 2015

by Shobha Ponnappa

Brand strategy trends for 2015 are both easy and difficult to predict. Going by what we’ve seen through 2014, a lot of last year’s trends are hardening. But still, when experts aim to predict for the coming year, they are cautious. They know we’re dealing with two notoriously fickle factors: technology and the social media.  Three well-known brand strategy specialist authors of articles in Forbes.com, Huffington Post and SmartCompany, as well as the trend forecasts of the branding agency Landor weigh in on their predictions.

From Forbes.com’s article titled “11 Marketing Trends To Watch For In 2015” by Avi Dan:

Transparency will become the most important tool of marketing.

Consumers are going to continue to exert power and influence. The idea of radical transparency is something that few brands are taking advantage of now, and most brands fight it. Next year the best brands won’t be those with the best stories, or sort of made up fictional stories, but those that will give an accurate and real time picture of what they are doing in the interest of the consumer, at any given time.

CMOs will become Chief Simplifier Officers.

Most companies create complexity, especially even as the landscape itself is turning more complex. They’ve arranged themselves in endless new vertical silos, by geography, product, or function that hamper them when it comes to working more closely and with the free flow of ideas. To optimize consumer and customer engagements, CMOs will begin to put silo busting on top of their agenda and begin to think holistically about the company’s overall value proposition, integrating messages and insights across business units, geographies, and functional groups.

We will witness the emergence of the marketing technologists.

Too many companies think in terms of digital marketing. Instead, they should be thinking in terms of marketing in a digital world. The best marketer in a digital world would be the marketing technologists, people with heavy digital DNA and technology acumen. They will be integrated seamlessly with the marketing groups and will play an important role in how marketing strategies are developed and applied.

The winners will be adept at agility marketing.

Social media produced a different, more elusive consumer with short-term thinking. Marketers are now chasing their daily meanderings in “likes”, “shares”, “tweets”, click-through rates, and ever more immediate but pointless metrics. The best marketers will have ever more consumer data, capable of faster adaption, shorter lead times, and always-on, real-time marketing. Instead of the next month or next quarter the focal point for the winners becomes the next hour.

From the branding specialists Landor, and their article titled “Landor releases 2015 brand trends:

The individual, not the masses, becomes the brand target.

Thanks to epic advances in capturing consumer data and breakthrough manufacturing techniques that make smaller production runs more economical, businesses will create specialized offers and subbrands to meet consumers’ desires for personalized products. For example, Coca-Cola Israel recently printed 2 million individually designed labels to prove its consumers are one of a kind. And, Holiday Inn is starting to shift its brand strategy toward more customized experiences that meet individual needs—from business travelers and families to young couples and adventurous singles.

3-D goes beyond movies.

The advent of 3-D printing technology enables brands to forgo uniform packaging in favor of creating custom designs to connect with consumers and stand out on store shelves. Captain Morgan 1671 special-edition blend took this approach and exceeded sales expectations with a distinctive pirate-shaped and weathered glass jug.

The name game, short and simple.

With more noise in the digital marketplace and less time than ever to capture consumers’ attention, brands will continue to streamline the path to sales and that includes a shift back to basic, clear, relevant naming solutions. More monikers will have universal, easy-to-grasp concepts (think Uber and Square) that also make good URLs. Apple, who dropped its iconic “i” naming convention, and Google have already transitioned to this elementary approach, putting greatest importance on their recognizable master brands by placing them first, followed by simple product descriptors: Apple Watch, Apple TV, Apple Pay; Google Glass, Google Wallet, Google Play.

Brands as your best friends.

Good-bye slogans and catchphrases. Today you can’t sell without a story—and it better be authentic. Whether it’s websites, tweets, or texts, brands will use straightforward dialogue infused with honesty and emotion. We’re talking plain, straightforward honesty in communications — like Zipcar who has zoomed past the rental car competition with an approachable voice that speaks like your best bud.

From the Huffington Post’s “Advertising and Tech Trends for 2015” by Jeremy Wilson:

Rise of the Sensors.

You name it. Next year someone will put a sensor in it. They have been slowly making their way into communications and services over the last two years – initially driven via Android but accelerated by Apple adding it’s iBeacons to the game. We are starting to see an infrastructure rollout that will drive broader awareness and use via mobile. These beacons act as triggers that allow for smarter interaction with an environment – for instance, if I walk into a store a beacon will know who I am and what department I’m in, sending me a notification for an in store promotion based on my past shopping history. There are multiple major sports stadiums across the US currently installing networks of beacons so we can expect some cool executions, expect to see beacons used a lot in interactive OOH and sensors attached to athletes for live sports analytics.

Health Tech & Wearables Go Mainstream. 

Sure, everyone has had activity trackers for years – but with open platforms bringing all that data together and consumers starting to share it with their doctors – get ready for an explosion in this space. This data will be leveraged to consistently add real value in our lives. Smart watches will start to appear on wrists throughout the year, brands and apps will rush to shrink their content into what is being known as ‘glanceables’ – small snackable content formats that can be viewed on a watch or a Google Now card. My favorite quote on the Apple Watch is from Aza Raskin, Head of Innovation at Jawbone: “In a decade, only the affluent will be able to afford to be disconnected. The iWatch et al will start sexy and end as a shackle.” Look for the unplug movement to clash with the emergence of smartwatches.

Selfies Get Serious.

Next year it’s time to up your selfie game – 2015 is when the selfie really gets tech. Hyperlapse, Drone shots, and connected devices that can trigger the camera on your phone are becoming mainstream and offer whole range of new perspectives for us to present ourselves to the world. Can Google Glass stay in the game without a selfie strategy?

More Ambitious Native & Branded Content.

I have to give ‘Native’ the award for the most overused buzzword of this year. Look for many new Native ad formats to emerge as it continues its charge in 2015, but who will it go too far? Some people will start to call brands out on it as the lines between editorial content and advertising become too blurred. This year we have seen quality TV shows funded entirely by brands, my bet is that in 2015 we’ll see a brand fully fund a scripted feature film. There is already loads of product placement but I’m talking the primary production backer. Fueled by the ability to debut straight to streaming distribution and inspired by Netflix’s plans to debut their own movies directly on their platform, I can see some brands making a smart impact within film.

And finally, from the SmartCompany’s story by Jackie Crossman titled “Marketing trends that will rock 2015”:

Integrity.

David Chenu, general manager of marketing services at Horticulture Australia, believes the next year or two is not about technology change – although he says that will still occur, even faster than currently – but will be more about style, substance and the essence of what is communicated. “Consumers relish integrity and purity of communication,” Chenu says. “The integrity and honesty of brand communication will be the answer to resonate through continuing, confusing clutter.” Jono McCauley, director of creative strategy at Elevencom, is in total agreement.
“In 2015, brands that ‘sell’ less and ‘do’ more will be the ones that pull ahead of the pack,” McCauley says.
“Consumer-controlled media filters out the sellers and takes notice of the doers. Doers are always innovating and solving real consumer problems in fresh and interesting ways. If the doing is clever enough, it sells itself.”
McCauley warns marketers should never underestimate their customers. “Living this strategy involves being totally transparent and surprisingly honest.”

Consumer power.

The customer as an evolving, increasingly savvy and “highly empowered individual” is a theme reiterated by Gunjan Allen, marketing development manager at Airtrain. “Today’s consumer has access to a wealth of information from numerous channels and that makes them more connected, but also more fragmented,” Allen says. “A brand needs to connect in that consumer’s world to be taken notice of. Brands will be welcomed into their consumer’s life if they’re on the same page and share the same thoughts, needs and ideals.” Lynne Ziehlke, the market development manager at the Australian Macadamia Society, is also nuts about the customer. “It’s a case of back to the future with the customer at front and centre as the hero,” she says. “Social media has made everything so transparent that the best thing you can do is have a great product and credible narrative.”

Influencers.

Byrnes predicts a continued increase in the power of digital influencers. “Digital Influencers will become a more widely used and recognised resource for digital marketers. With influencers acting as an impetus to their audience, brands and marketers will learn to turn their efforts to specific individuals to connect with a new audience of potential buyers rather than their target market as a whole.”

Visual storytelling.

Looking ahead, Gunjan Allen believes visual storytelling will take the concept of ‘storytelling’ to a whole new level. “Technologies like Blippar will further enhance customer-brand interaction, creating videos and experiences to help achieve the cut-through that brands need,” she says.
“The clever marketers are also realising that media is now consumed on the go and the mobility of devices now allows brands to reach their consumers at the right time and at the right place – a trend that will continue to grow in 2015 and beyond".

original article via shobhaponnappa.com

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