James Pass, managing director and creative principle, JPd, says firms should get ready to adapt
The year has been dynamic, unforgettable and a remarkable break from past norms, with Brexit, the US elections, distrust of mainstream media, Pokémon mania and the rise of augmented reality sparking a lot of debate on social platforms.
We can all foresee 2017 standing strong on the side of real authenticity, unfiltered imperfection, individuality and humanity, as well as the growth of non-manufactured resources. How will this affect trends in branding through the year.
Your brand story: redefining authenticity
We’ve all heard about the importance of creating an authentic story and brand positioning for your brand to connect with its audience. However, it seems brands have over-reacted to that particular trend: “There are now, by our rough estimate, 184,597,433,860 references to ‘authenticity’ used to brand products and services,” according to [strategic branding firm] BrandCulture.
In 2017, adding words such as ‘authentic’, ‘authenticity’, ‘artisanal’, ‘handmade’, etc., will no longer have the needed impact and meaning and, moreover, may appear fake to the consumer. These words have been used by so many brands to date that Generation Y and Z will no longer believe what the ad says about the brand, its heritage and its authenticity. It is now time for brands to redefine what authentic really means in their story. It may no longer be just about heritage, but rather, staying true to oneself. New customers will look for brands that are more honorable, open and
transparent; those that respect the consumer, partnerships, and communities.
Packaging vs. Product
With a great demand for the truth, branding may shift its focus towards product design itself, rather than packaging alone. We can see it rather vividly in the F&B sector. Elements such as transparent bottles, simple and minimalist design, natural and easily readable ingredients, and being open about the manufacturing and the overall process involved in production, will prevail. Expensive, short-lived packaging can still appear attractive to a consumer’s eye, yet this may affect the company’s reputation in a not-so-favorable way in the long run. The use of natural and recyclable materials, while staying away from plastics, will affect a brand’s direction on ethical decisions for producing durable and green products with minimum packaging design. More than half of young consumer groups are paying attention to durable labels and are willing to pay more for it.
Active vs passive CSR
It’s becoming more evident than ever before that consumer behavior of the future is on the path of being green and more conscious: new generations (Y and Z) seem to give more importance to green consumption patterns. More than 75 percent of Gen Z recognizes the fact that our world needs protection against destructive actions and the impact they have had to date; approximately 60 percent aim to start taking action in order to improve the world. This is where your brand can step in to fill that niche and become a part of the consumers’ lives.
This generation will be focusing on brands that have a clear vision on corporate social responsibility (CSR), which will highly improve a brand’s reputation as well. However, what will really matter is not just making a big claim about CSR, but organizing real, concrete actions instead.
Internal Branding: Is your company ready for a new workforce?
We’ve been so focused on millennials that it seems we’ve totally missed out on the new kids in town. Born after 1996, Generation Z is about to enter the global workforce and possesses a much more individualistic and realistic approach to life.
Businesses will need to re-look at their organizational structure to become more flexible to fit the individualized needs of this new generation. The independence of this group is remarkably high: roughly 42 percent of Gen Z individuals are planning to start their own business and more than half are taking up internships and preparing for professional life during high school.
Brands with an open environment that welcomes questions and provides career advice and feedback will attract the best young talent in the market. This new workforce wave will be looking for mentors, rather than just managers, who value their creativity and insights and are open to learning from employees.
2017 is promising to be a great and inspiring ride for many branding and graphic design agencies. Companies should welcome changes and get ready to adapt their brand accordingly to survive in the modern market’s dynamic landscape.