What trends will affect your business’s brand in 2014? According to Landor Associates, the biggest brand trends to watch this year include:
1. Consumer empowerment. For businesses in the health-care, fitness or food industries, in particular, Obamacare is having an effect on how consumers view themselves. Consumers will be more empowered as a result of their increased financial responsibility for their own health. In particular, people will be more interested in eating healthy. If you own a restaurant or food business, make sure your packaging and nutritional labeling is consumer-friendly.
2. Brands will “enable” public service. With governments under financial pressure, brands will sponsor more projects that support the public good. On a large scale, think Citibank’s New York City bike program; on a small scale, think of how your business could sponsor a local charity or socially responsible organization.
3. Man as “wife.” Traditional gender roles are reversed in more and more households and women aren’t the only consumers targeted for skin care products and baby accessories. If your product or service has traditionally targeted women (such as a spa or nail salon), are there ways you could reach out to more men?
4. “Second life” packaging becomes first priority. Packaging is going beyond just being environmentally friendly to being both “green” and fun. For example, one cookie company has a box that becomes a children’s toy when refolded; another company sells lightbulbs in a package that turns into a lampshade.
5. “Clean slate” brands clean up. Good news for startups: Consumers are rushing to clean-slate brands—that is, brands without heritage and history. These brands appear newer, better, faster, cleaner, more open and responsive to consumers compared to the old, slow, and untrustworthy brands of the past. Promote your business’s newness to give you an edge.
6. Luxury brands are back and bigger than ever. As more women buy their own high-end rewards, from cars to vacations to jewelry, luxury brands are turning their attention to the boomer woman in particular. Also important in the luxury world: Millennials, projected to be the most important consumer in this category by 2016.
7. Social media becomes old school. Social media is no longer a shiny, new toy but a customer service and marketing necessity. Visual content and “social listening” (paying attention to what your customers are saying on social media and using it to drive business development) are hot trends for 2014.
8. Brand is as brand does. Your brand can’t just talk the talk—you also have to walk the walk. What brands truly stand for is key, and customers are focusing more than ever on values, beliefs and corporate social responsibility. Recruiting employees who align with and represent your brand will be key to proving your company does more than give lip service to its values.
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