The Future of Branding

Bek Agius — 13th September 2019

In 2019 we've been exposed to, what seems like, every sales and marketing tactic under the sun. The upside is that we're slowly learning some valuable lessons. The most notable is a move away from solely investing in traditional advertising methods and towards a stronger brand that connects with the values and desires of the customer. 

Over the years, customers have begun to shy away from corporate advertising and traditional marketing techniques in favour of a more personal touch. As information has become more and more available, the consumer has inevitably become more educated and more aware of a sales-driven approach with research suggesting that advertising is the least trusted source by consumers when making a purchase decision. 

As customers have become more confident and the internet has become more prevalent, so too willingness to share personal information in a trade-off for convenience has become the norm. Organisations have rushed in to collect this data to learn more about their target audiences and as a result, that very same audience has grown to expect a more tailored experience. To remain relevant, brands must connect with the values that their target audience share. 

Putting the Customer at the Centre

Saturation through push strategies and traditional marketing techniques means that the consumer has become immersed in advertising material in every part of their online and offline world. Research conducted by Microsoft suggests that the average person is exposed to around 600 advertising messages every day. The resistance consumers have developed means that marketers must work harder to be heard through the noise in order to make an impact. 

The persistent theme is that the more marketers push messaging about how fantastic the brand and product are, the more the consumer shuts down. The solution is to spend time and energy on a customer-centric approach to marketing: to think more about the needs, wants and values that really matter to the ideal customer. 

The motivation behind this activity is also very important. The goal should be to build and nurture a meaningful relationship between brand and customer. Only in this way can the customer develop a bond that is difficult to break and see the brand as a reflection of their personality.

Let Your Customers Be Your Advocates

Salesy self-promotion with short-term sales goals is a very transparent strategy that is difficult for the modern consumer to trust - Why would I trust that your product is the best when you represent the product? Most customers are well enough informed to be skeptical of push messaging as the organisation itself can never be impartial. 

On the other side of the spectrum, 92% of customers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. If customers relate and trust real people like them, why not turn the tables and put the spotlight on existing customers who already love the brand?

The employment of user generated content like reviews, testimonials, social imagery and video allows the brand and its customers to speak for themselves in an authentic tone. It's also a much more affordable and empowering way to connect with an audience. 

The Elon Musk Effect

Brand personified in a celebrity CEO or serial entrepreneur is an emerging trend most commonly associated with Elon Musk of PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla. A sure sign that consumers gravitate more naturally to a person than a faceless organisation, those like Adam d’Angelo (Facebook, Quora), Marissa Mayer (Google, Yahoo!) and Sheryl Sandberg (Google, Facebook) have identified that promoting their own endeavours as highly successful entrepreneurs gives people lots to talk about and even more to aspire to. More importantly, all of this story-telling publicity creates interest around the brands they've built. 

Give Your Brand a Face

While the average organisation can't expect to have an Elon Musk, showing the faces behind the organisation can help humanise the brand and increase customer trust. Whether the executives, the employees, the board or a combination of these,  breaking down the barriers and reminding the customer that real people are what make the brand great feels personal and creates a real connection. 

Ultimately, in brand management if the motivation of marketing activity is driven by values of people and the execution is honest and customer-centric, customers will see the integrity in the content. To perpetually drive relationships with key segments, the values and goals of the brand should align to those key groups and this should be the driving tone throughout marketing communications.  

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