In our connected world, perception is increasingly important. As your business adapts to a rapidly-changing business environment, it’s important that your brand image keeps up. Is your brand ready for the next decade? To make sure that it is, take a look at some of the key trends in branding for 2020. Keep these in mind as you develop branding strategies that communicate your evolving story to stakeholders:
1. Minimalism: When it comes to design today, less is more. A minimalist, flat aesthetic has become an increasingly common aspect of design language across industries. Everyone- from the housing industry, to clothing manufacturers, to technology companies-is exploring minimalist design paradigms. Brands are increasingly decluttering to emphasize core messaging in the simplest, most accessible terms. In terms of typesetting, sans-serif fonts are enjoying a resurgence. In graphic design, bold, solid color is replacing gradient and texture patterns: logos and graphics are neat and effortless. The “flattening” of logo designs can be observed everywhere: brands as diverse as McDonald’s and Facebook have migrated from skeuomorphic designs to a flat, minimalist aesthetic.
Physical packaging has also been decluttered. As unboxing experiences becoming increasingly important to customers, brands are focusing more on utility-on what’s inside the box-than elaborating on the box itself.
Adopting a minimalist design language can be an excellent way to invigorate your brand identity. When doing so, keep this in mind as a rule of thumb: “just enough is more.” This means striking the right balance between minimalist abstraction and clear visual imagery to convey just as much-or more-than conventional designs. It can be challenging to identify iconic text and imagery that adequately conveys your message. But it is well worth the effort.
2. Consciousness: Businesses are a part of this world, and vital stakeholders in a range of global and regional issues. Brands today recognize that monetary cost isn’t the only metric consumers use to make purchase decisions. Consumers care about the ecological, social, and political implications of the products they buy. A recent Accenture survey indicated that over 70 percent of millenials prefer to engage with brands that care about inclusivity and diversity over those who do not. From Nike producing branded sports hijabs to Uber’s safety-centric rebranding campaign, brands have embraced progressive positions on key issues to connect with younger, socially conscious audiences. And, as climate change and global warming become ever more relevant, brands find that environmentally-conscious actions also strike a chord with their customer bases. Ikea, for instance, aims to leverage solar power to become a net producer of energy.
3. Digitally driven: The rise of digital has fundamentally altered the way business is done. With over 4.39 billion internet users worldwide, digital has become the single most important way to drive brand awareness. With cheap data and rising incomes bolstering smartphone adoption worldwide, brands increasingly look to mobile to reach out to young, global audiences. Mobile-centric platforms, from mobile apps, to augmented reality platforms, to voice assistants, provide businesses with new ways to generate brand awareness. “Always-on” digital platforms give brands the opportunity to always be visible to customers. Digital isn’t just a platform for brand messaging. The immense amount of user data businesses collect from apps and social media sights gives them genuine insight into how they’re perceived. By leveraging Big Data, businesses can identify exactly what they need to do to gain a positive brand perception. Digital platforms have also brought brands are closer to customers than ever. Traditional customer-brand interfaces tended to be impersonal and one way. Social media, live-chat, and other digital functionality now allow brands to respond to customers in real-time and treat them like valued, individual human beings.
As we move into the next decade, branding is increasingly characterized by a few key trends. Brands are becoming simpler, more genuine, and more connected with their (human) customer base. Brands today are more “real,” more conscious, and more responsive than ever before. The close proximity enabled by digital platforms is a two-edged sword, however. Every statement and every action a business takes is writ large on the internet. This makes it more important than ever for branding to be on-message and consistent, all the time.
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