Branding has transformed over the last decade. It’s no longer enough to put a brand or product out into the world, slap on some colourful advertising and let it do its thing. Increasingly, brands have to become much more than a transaction or tool – they have to connect with their customers on a human level, becoming an integral part of their life and identity. In short, brands have to become a highly personalised service – an entity with real meaning and authenticity.
Modern consumers have become increasingly savvy in the way they react to advertising. They are looking for an authentic connection in an often inauthentic world. We explore some of the ways brands are changing their approach to address this shifting audience, below.
Personalisation is a key step in becoming a brand with meaning. The rise of subscription-based services like Netflix and Spotify has revolutionised the consumer playing field, swapping traditional standalone products with hyper-customised service offerings. If an audience feels you know who they are and what they like, you have the foundation of meaningful connection. Although not every brand can shift to a subscription-based model, they can work harder to understand their customer’s needs and craft a curated experience. Google is an example of a brand that has integrated its services into every layer of its customer’s lives.
The collection and application of data is at the heart of these changing customer relationships, and those who are not using data to focus their branding approach run the risk of being left behind. Marketers must look beyond data as a tool to fuel personalised advertising. They must understand the customer experience and service – leveraging data responsibly to personalise each step of the brand journey.
It seems that brands who are ‘keeping it real’ are ahead of the pack when it comes to the future of branding. Seth Godin, Squidoo founder and marketing thought leader, says, “marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell”. This mindset is rapidly taking hold as consumers shift towards brands that resonate with their deeper values. We are seeing brands like Dove, shift away from a glossy, airbrushed image of beauty to something more authentic by using ‘real women’ as models throughout their advertising.
Whatever your business, branding is at the centre of your strategic approach. Perhaps it’s time to ask yourself, what are you doing to become a brand with meaning?
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