Predicting the future is hard, which is why the world-famous management expert Peter Drucker suggested the best way of predicting the future is to create it. Still, if you want to create it right, it’s a good idea to start off with a solid foundation of good information to clue you in on future trends. According to Brand Keys, a branding consultancy out of New York, after surveying more than 100,000 consumers they were able to identify 14 big trends for 2014 that will drive branding and design. Here they are:
1. Consumers Will Expect More
Consumer expectations have jumped an average of 20% in the last 5 years. This ought to be a double wake-up call for marketers, since it also turns out brands have only kept up by 5%. This means there’s a major gap between what companies are delivering and what consumers are desiring… which also makes for big opportunities if you can find them.
2. Pay Attention To Your Brand, Or Else
As consumer expectations rise, the risk of your service or product being commoditized rises too. Just being widely known isn’t enough. You also have to be known for something important and meaningful to your customers. Personal Branding for managers and public figures in your organization is also very important.
3. Brand Category Is The New King
Starting in 2014, brands will have to stop trading off their category-specific elements to get cross-category generalities. This applies everywhere they target and execute media and content. In order to engage smarter consumers who have higher expectations than ever, brands will have to be much smarter about leveraging specific category values themselves.
4. Branding Goes Emotional
2014 will see the brand decision process becoming much more emotionally-driven. For most market categories, rational aspects just represent the price of entry. A really successful brand will identify the emotional values which characterize their category, and use these as a foundation to create meaningful differentiation.
5. Engagement Must Be Defined Properly
People have viewed engagement as linked to attention levels for too long. Instead, good marketers will associate brand engagement with overall brand perception — measuring how their efforts change their brand relative to the category ideal, and using metrics which correlate to a high degree with sales, profitability, and loyalty.
6. Targeting Will Become Personal
Now that consumers expect and crave customized, personal versions of experiences, services, and products, brands which respond effectively to consumer expectations will personalize their messaging and outreach. They’ll find customization-oriented consumers engaging much better with these elements.
7. Digital Will Be Done Right
Now that digital diversification has grown up and a multiplicity of channels become the norm, brands find they need to shift their internal logic from “do I want to be here?” and instead ask themselves, “what should we do here?” Success in the new environment isn’t so much about outreach as it is about emotional engagement and brand differentiation.
8. Content is Still King
Content marketing is becoming a whole new specialty. New tools are optimizing placement and helping brands see the key differences between using owned, paid, and earned media. All of these are important to understand when looking at contextual relevance and steering a brand through the digital space.
9. Mobile Optimization Is Now Mainstream
For 2014, brands simply must adopt strategies as well as content delivery mechanisms that fit with increased levels of consumer multi-screen behavior and multi-tasking.
10. Quality Visual Content is Key
As consumers become more visually literate, they’re responding ever more to brands that make image-based connections. Visual content is becoming ever more important in crafting viral marketing, and brands are finding they need to pay close attention to image-sharing platforms and initiatives.
11. Micro Videos Go Mainstream
Micro videos are rising in popularity. Rather than looking at the number of views, metrics will move towards measuring real engagement. As a result, look for more 6 and 12 second videos that accommodate limited-bandwidth digital delivery and ever-shorter attention spans.
12. More Integration
Watch for digital and brand marketing teams to move together, fusing budgets and working cross-silo. Multi-platform models necessitate integration of social media with all marketing programs.
13. Less Big Data, More Useful Data
Integration and streamlining of data aggregations across traditional and digital media will help brands separate out the data they need from the noise they don’t. Big Data will shrink and shrivel, becoming more useful in the process.
14. A Flatter Funnel
The old purchase funnel, now known as the path to purchase, will adapt to each category and become a view of multiple paths to purchase. Communicating value and content on the right platforms, done in the right way, will become the main way of driving emotional engagement and sales.