A brand = product + compelling story
Brands are built on cultural DNA and therefore, must evolve with the
times and shifting consumer desires. To successfully navigate such
turbulent waters, we recommend for marketers to steward brands through a "trend process", recognizing that the brand essence resides in
quintessential equities - visual, sensorial, experiential and
personality - that create truly emotional bonds with consumers.
For over more than a decade, we have refined a "Brand Effervescent Trend
Forecasting Process" that funnels macro trends into a brand essence.
Each higher trend level feeds the one below in a 10-step brand
Applying Trends to Brands
While every project presents its own challenges, this process can help
marketers apply the right trend to a brand's living space.
1. Trend Signals
Seek visionaries; stay future focused. Big discoveries can come from the
fringe, unfamiliar territory that can even elicit a touch of fear.
2. Benchmark Cultural Signposts
Trends are rooted in culture so look to key influencers in architecture,
design, media, art, technology, social media, politics, religion, the
economy, even healthcare. Aim for signals in at least three disciplines
to indicate a trend.
Validate whether this trend has "peaked." Nothing is worse than
discovering a "new trend" is on its way out.
Information overload is the greatest challenge in the search for
emerging trends. To cut through the clutter, try these resources:
- Trendhunter, Trendwatching, Coolhunting (trend sites)
- Psfk (trend aggregator)
- Huffington Post, Daily Beast (news aggregators)
- Ad Age (advertising)
- The New York Times, USA Today (mass perspective)
- Guardian, BBC (cultural cross-over trends)
- The Dieline (packaging)
- Dexigner (design)
- Daily Candy, Goop (fashion)
- Industry blogs, magazines
- Ffffound.com (sensorial trends)
- ICFF, Milan Furniture Fair, Future Trends (trade shows)
- Twitter, Google Alerts, RSS
- Trend Professionals
3. Visual Incarnation
"Visual positioning" ensures that the proper interpretation of a trend
storyline is infused into the brand essence. This step collapses the
senses into a primal experience, evoking touch, taste, smell, and sounds
to enhance the brand experience.
Let's look back for an example. The visual vocabulary of the '80s was
masculine, boxy, structural and hard-edged. In the late '90's, a
feminine biomorphic aesthetic became in vogue and design responded with
colored iMacs, Bilbao, the redesign of the VW beetle, for instance.
This step requires a visual sweep of the trend but aids in creative
4. Name It
Define the trend. This helps you own it and explain it to others.
i.e. Connectivity, Kidult, Green, S/he, Authenticity, Time Famine.
5. Identify and name the Consumer Group(s) that Embody the Trend
Trends need an audience. It is ultimately consumer interest that
sustains or kills a trend. This also adds an emotional element that
might otherwise have eluded you. Demographic groups are generally too
broad so, dig deep and define their lifestyles and needs.
i.e. Dinks, Global Nomads, Millennial Hippies etc.
6. Look Outside Your Industry
In London, restaurateurs recently co-opted the retail pop-up shop
concept to refresh the dining experience, a breakthrough that provided
emerging chefs market exposure.
7. Define Category Trends
This is where most research resides. We recommend using a "birds eye
view" to track category trends to remain true to your brand equities.
8. Don't Chase
With everyone vying to be the first on the scene, there is a desperate
nature to trend hunting. By not chasing others, you keep your brand
front and center.
9. Go Against the Grain
Being a game changer is scary business. U by Kotex positioned the brand
as a fashion accessory and changed the feminine care conversation.
Market share ballooned from 5% to 8% in six months.
10. Apply to your Brand
Applying the trend to a brand's living space is the true challenge.
Marketers must understand their brand's essence and visual positioning
in the consumers' mind or risk arbitrarily translating trends rather
than adapting them in a compelling manner.
For example, we have worked on Venus since 1998. Back then, launching a
blue female razor at Gillette was revolutionary. It was assumed blue =
man and pink = woman. But human's relationship with color runs much
deeper than that. By melding the mythological story of Venus being born
of the waters with the spa trend - which addressed woman's need for
pampering and reconnecting with the natural world - the visual equities
of color, texture, movement were brought to life in a trend-focused way
and Venus was on track to become the #1 female shaving brand.
Trends are an exciting territory to explore. They can add an element of
humanity to the branding process. By following this roadmap you can be
confident that your brand will stay current and deliver results for years.