2021 is ready to roll in as 2020 closes its doors. Conceptually speaking, branding acclimates toward its respective era. With the whirlwind of events transpiring these last few months, branding has also experienced rapid developments in terms of design, technology, and advocacy. To establish their position in the market and capture the hearts and minds of their target audience, more and more brands are using unconventional branding strategies as well as working outside their self-proclaimed boundaries.
Compared to recent history, the consumers of today are more meticulous and demanding of the companies they purchase from. Modern customers aren’t satisfied with pretty aesthetics, they also want the companies they support to uphold the same values they champion. For them, what your brand holds dear speaks louder than what your current campaign’s color scheme is.
With that said, building a brand in the 21st century is tough business. To give you inspiration for your next branding campaign, here’s a compilation of branding trends you can expect to flourish in the year of 2021:
For your brand to be noticed, it’s not enough that your logo is loud and big as a billboard. If you want to dominate in the digital age, your logo must have the ability to shape shift and adapt to all kinds of branding material. Logo versatility came in just a few years ago and is just now reaching full maturity. Enabling your logo to change in size, complexity, and color gives you more creative room to play with and even prevents your customers from growing bored of your brand.
A good first step is to create a master logo that can be broken down into simpler and smaller designs that can be used on different types of platforms. Logo adaptability isn’t a “good to have” element, it’s essential in today’s climate because of smartphone supremacy and the variety of screens that can be utilized for your brand’s visibility.
Less is more. The minimalist movement has proven to be a groundbreaking trend this decade and is evolving into a cornerstone of 21st century design. Numerous brands have embraced the art of “decluttered” visuals, which can be seen from Google and Aribnb, who recently changed their logo fonts to Sans-serif (basically the face of font minimalism). After that, more brands followed suit, even high fashion labels like Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga swapped their iconic typefaces for Sans-serif.
Using fewer colors and weaponizing white space gives brands the opportunity to branch out from their golden cages. These brands are using minimalism as a blank canvas; a steady foundation to carry all the ideas they couldn't entertain before. The only downside to minimalism is the risk of becoming uninteresting. Most renowned brands have achieved the tricky balance that comes with this trend, but there are others that missed the mark and accidentally “blandified” their brand.
It’s no mistake that humans have a weird affinity to anything involving the past. With the influence of fashion trends, brands joined the band wagon and started harnessing the infectious energy of nostalgic branding.
Injecting nostalgia into brand campaigns can evoke emotion from consumers. Its bold colors, gradients, and universal anthem can stir a person’s emotions in an instant, especially those of the younger generation. This branding technique is both effective and meaningful because it attaches old memories and good vibes to your products or services.
A good example of nostalgic branding is Spotify’s efforts to give attention to their new and old genre songs. They used an advertising campaign that revived 80s and 90s music by mingling them with 2019 music trends. Nostalgia is great for improving consumer trust and brand recall because it draws from the emotions we constantly experience.
Even as we’re sitting on our toilet seats, our thumbs are practically hardwired to aimlessly scroll through our phones. Of course, this kind of habit wouldn’t exist without the actual apps we use - Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram are the modern bedrocks on which a brand can be built today. Almost 90% of organizations leverage social media for brand awareness and for good reason!
Tapping into the power of social media platforms can help you spread the word about your brand like wildfire. To start, it’s important to consider and study the format of each network. For example, Twitter relies on brief narrative content while Instagram is mainly focused on visuals. From here, you can actively create an identity and voice that’s aligned with your brand and its strategies.
This type of branding, at the very least, can be done in one station and is low to medium maintenance. Social media is free for everyone’s use. It would be a major oversight for a brand to dismiss social media branding in 2021.
Only recently, online communities have thrived. While companies have had reservations regarding their effectiveness in branding, today’s online communities are a testament of their ability to bolster brands. These communities can take on many forms, they vary from social media comments, email newsletters, hashtags, and full on forums or chat groups.
These communities serve as an exclusive platform where your customers can interact and discuss your products and services. Creating these groups can strengthen your relationship with your clients and give them the opportunity to connect with like minded individuals they can gain knowledge from.
A MarTech study revealed that 2 out of 3 brands with online communities experienced a revenue increase because of strong community engagement. These days, it’s important to spark a sense of belonging inside a brand because it taps not just a person's instinct to consume goods, but a person’s desire to belong.
Authenticity in 2021 can win you everything as a brand. Surrounded by fickle and picture perfect branding, the majority of consumers appreciate and favor an organic brand that knows how to deal with the world’s realities. A Stackla report revealed that 86% of shoppers consider authenticity as a huge factor in their purchasing decisions and that they prefer “natural and real” companies over those that are photoshopped beyond belief.
Take McDonald’s example. In the past, they experienced a burst of controversy regarding the ingredients they used. To counter these negative rumours, they took it upon themselves to publish a behind-the-scenes video on how their food is made. This action showed transparency and silenced the misconceptions surrounding the integrity of their brand.
You don’t have to lay everything out on the table, but showing tidbits of how your company works and featuring the minds behind it are enough to remind your audience that it’s not computers running the company, but genuine, compassionate people.
One thing you don’t want is ads that disrupt people’s lives. Truthfully told, it’s not an easy task to make an ad not look like an ad. As advertising has evolved, ads have only become more intrusive, overbearing, and uninspired.
Thus the reason why “anti-ad” advertising is so refreshing and likable from the consumer’s point of view. “Anti-ad” ads catch them off guard and this paradox of a strategy compels them to know more about what your company has to offer.
A good example is the dating app Hinge, a big slogan of theirs is that their app is meant to be deleted. Meaning to say that their app is sure to help you find the love of your life and eventually, you’ll be moving the app to your trash bin. When done right, “anti-ad” advertising can bring your brand to new heights because it makes you stand out in the sea of redundant marketing.
An advantage brands have today is their unlimited access to technology. Successful brand building in this day and age requires the help of technology because old fashioned branding methods aren’t enough to pull in consumers.
As a brand strategy, immersive experiecnes give your customers a unique and unforgettable moment through events, AR, PR packages, etc. This type of branding gives you the ability to take your consumers on a journey that can deepen their connection with your brand.
The makeup brand, Glossier, was able to execute a simple but effective brand experience with thoughtful packaging that fully embodied Glossier’s image, from the pastel stickers, reusable pick pouch, to their personalized letter. Every last detail was made to delight the consumer as they unboxed their items and for a few minutes, they were inside the bubble Glossier made for them.
People talk about their favorite brands as if they’re old friends and marketing has become a new medium of brand activism. It’s clear to see that the priorities of branding have shifted towards personalization and cultivating customer connections. Traditional branding strategies are growing inadequate by the day as consumers become more concerned about how a brand acts than how it looks.
Use these forecasted branding trends to enrich your brand and make it less transactional in its long term goals. Consumers crave purpose and meaning from brands they support and good branding in 2021 means nurturing that.
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