2017: Branding challenges, opportunities and change

Branding – it’s a tough task to get right for the average SME. Transitioning your thinking from visuals alone, to understanding that branding is everything (from tone of voice through to ethos and values) demands time and careful consideration. And just when you thought you’d made it through the quagmire of branding, along comes consumer change and new branding trends. This change is inevitable – and it should be embraced (if only for the fact that it can’t be avoided). What’s more, along with change comes opportunity. So here we look to the future – the next 12 months of it – exploring the challenges and opportunities for your SME brand – whether you see them as challenge or opportunity, depends very much on your mindset.

Brands will focus (even more) on building relationships, not making a sale there and then

Snapchat’s ‘Spectacles’ campaig

Snapchat’s ‘Spectacles’ campaign

Prime examples of brands that have sought to build relationships include Unilever’s Bright Futures campaign; Dove’s ‘Sketches’ ad (part of their Real Beauty campaign) and Airbnb’s ‘Wall and Chain: A story of breaking down walls’ video.

Figuring out ROI of relationship focused campaigns can be tricky – there’s usually no call-to-action, no link to follow, and no specific end-game.
Snapchat’s ‘Spectacles’ campaign is an exceptional example of a relationship building brand story done right – an emotive, uplifting YouTube vid, that leads to the Spectacles website. The campaign revolves around Snapchat Spectacles that are worn and that ‘snap’ memories exactly from the wearer’s perspective. The Spectacles website continues the focus on the user, and ends with a subtle step-by-step to encourage the audience to track down the vending machine for the glasses.

Employees will (or at least should) become social

Consider this: employees typically have 10x more connections than a brand (Social Chorus) and whilst 33% of consumers trust a brand, 90% of consumers will trust a recommendation from those they know (Nielsen). Despite this, businesses have previously seen only challenge in ensuring work access to social networks isn’t abused; thus, they’ve been slow to catch on when it comes to the potential power of the employee and their social brand advocacy. And yet the stats are undeniable – employees are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to shouting about their brand online.

Websites and a shift to image authenticity

Stock imagery is dead. Hurrah! (the type of stock imagery that’s out and out fakery, that is – we’re talking thoughtful people staring at their computer screens, that stock customer services rep whose likely never sad, and that board room meeting of super sharp suits). This death knell is not before time, either. Customers want to know who you are – they want to see your team. It’s time to be real – genuine photos of you, your team and your products is called for to undergo this 2017 authenticity transition.

Social media and a chance to tell your story – visually, beautifully.

Social media and a continuing shift toward storytelling presents an exceptional chance to visually allow your branding story to unfold before your audience’s eyes. Pioneering a technology that perfectly lends itself to which is Facebook, with Canvas – a tool that allows for an easy combination of videos, images and calls-to-action. What’s more, with 75% of buying decisions based on emotion (iTechBlogging) – you can and should make it a page scroller, a heart string tugger or a tale of trial and tribulation – filled with messages and images that connect with your audience.

Time waits for no entrepreneur – the world of branding moves at a double-quick pace compared to the rest of the world. Embrace change and strategize for challenge, and the commercial world could just be yours for the taking. Here’s to 2017, cheers!

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