I am vaccinated and feel invincible—well, kind of. I just returned from my first trip where I had to take a flight, and while I thought it would be weird to be around a lot of people—indoors, sometimes without distancing—it wasn’t bad. It actually felt quite normal, and normal is good. I know that the rest of the world is still struggling. My family and friends back in Germany are back in quarantine, waiting impatiently for more vaccines to come in.
While the US is gearing up to open again and go back to “normal” (whatever that means), I was inspired to do a little research and look for things that will shape this post-pandemic era. I discovered six trends in branding and marketing that also spill over into business and our personal lives. Here we go:
The first trend that is pretty apparent is curiosity. In 2020, we were forced to slow down and therefore had more time on our hands. More apps and new technology arose to connect people online, and many people were open to it.
Now, hopping on a Zoom call is normal, and new apps like Clubhouse are well received. People are open to trying new things because most of the time it only takes joining a webinar without leaving your house or even getting out of your pajama pants. Many people have picked up new hobbies like knitting and kombucha brewing, pottery and bread-making, playing an instrument, and cooking. I’ve attended virtual events all over the world, in Australia, England, Germany, and even Albania.
Whatever and wherever I attended, it always started with curiosity, something that I already had an interest in and now have the time to pursue. For businesses, this could mean opening up to new markets, exploring a larger, more diverse target audience all over the world, and continuing to offer virtual events that don’t require finding parking.
However, the experience needs to be good. Really good. Because as easy as it is to try something new, it is also easy to ignore or even leave it. If you don’t like something, just click the exit button, delete the app, or unsubscribe. But hey, you tried it. You followed your inkling of curiosity. On to the next thing.
The second trend I noticed is that values matter more now than ever before. I wrote about this before if you want a deeper dive. Infused by the pandemic, social injustice, and political imbalance, you were asked to stand up for your beliefs and voice your opinion more than before and also to challenge your values and consider a different point of view.
Now we demand the same from the brands we love. How do they react to and deal with current events? We want to know what they believe in and how they can make the world a better place, a more just and equal place, a more kind and eco-conscious place. Companies that have their values in check and take a bold stand for what they believe in, can adjust to the changing environment and tend to survive and grow their fan base. They can change what they do without confusing people. People will continue to follow them because their values align.
So, for companies that have no set values or had more of an inward-facing system, it is time to determine your brand values and communicate those to the world over and over again. Be open, honest, and authentic, and have the courage to share. Even if that means you might lose a few followers.
The third trend that I really hope sticks around is simplicity and ease. In many ways, a lot of us enjoyed the deceleration that happened in 2020. We are more protective of our time and preferred life to be straightforward and undemanding.
Over this last year, we got so spoiled by easy processes. Groceries can be delivered within one hour right to your doorstep, curbside pick-up is a part of running errands now, you can stream any box office movie and have watch parties with your friends and family. If you want to see somebody, you just use one of the many video-sharing platforms.
So for companies, it is essential to make things easy, quick to understand, and accessible. Make sure your website is fast and easy to navigate. That your services and offerings are clearly communicated. That your products require no effort, little thought, and work intuitively or with very simple guidelines. That your buying process consists of just a few steps. That is what people remember, return to, and refer to others.
Don’t waste our time. That makes us furious. And we will abandon ship.
Another trend is knowledge. This is not entirely new. After all, we live in an age of intelligence and knowledge. If we don’t know something, we do know where to go to find the answer, and usually, it’s only a few clicks away.
Last year more podcasts, books, e-courses, webinars, and white papers were published than ever before. People love sharing what they know. So if you are an expert in something, make sure you share your wisdom. Don’t wait for a client to hire you for your knowledge, share it now so people see and recognize you for your realm of expertise.
On the flip side, take advantage of the vast library out there and keep on learning. Be a constant student and learn new things that make your service more valuable, or simply expand your knowledge and learn something that might not directly relate to what you offer. If you know your audience’s persona, get into their heads and see what they are interested in, and gain a deeper understanding.
The fifth trend—and maybe also not entirely new but more pronounced than ever—is iteration instead of perfectionism. In a year where there were endless roadblocks, uncertainty, ever-changing information and restrictions, and constant pivoting and adjustment, you just had to roll with the punches. Nothing was clear and predictable anymore, and we were forced to try different things, be innovative, bold, and brave.
There is not one single perfect solution for a problem but multiple possible routes to go. So why not take them? Why not try, then revisit, change, measure, get feedback, change again, and continue to do so until you see the best possible way to solve the problem. “Done is better than perfect,” as Sheryl Sandberg likes to say.
In the digital space, changing and iterating does not cost that much. Update your website, try different messaging, come up with different social media marketing campaigns, and try out different content. Figure out what your clients need today and tomorrow—not in the next six months or next year. Who knows what the world will look like then? In the process, you gain a whole lot of knowledge and data that can predict and even prevent future problems and build for longevity.
6. Human Connection
The last trend—also more pronounced now than ever—is human connection. No matter what business you are in, B2C or B2B, we are all in the business of H2H. Human to Human, Heart to Heart—people buy from people. That’s why there are so many reviews for people to read, so many personal online tutorials to watch, and so many social media influencers to follow.
More and more companies spent their marketing budget on influencers because data shows that this is where people gain trust and ultimately convert. I think we all experience that. This is why it is so important to show personality as a brand, as a company, and as individuals.
Show your values, show what you believe in, what your company and people are all about. Show your quirkiness, share your knowledge and process, and also your faults and failures. That makes a brand human. And that creates connection.
I hope these trends will linger and shape this new hopeful era of time and I also hope I can be part of designing this new future.
Do you have any questions or want to see how you can implement these trends in your business? Schedule a 30-minute call with me.