Brandscape: Quo vadis? - An HKLM trends observation
Unlike fashion and décor trends, brand trends are more esoteric, intangible, more difficult to identify and define and far more enduring. Brand trends are not engineered by designers and branding companies with commercial intent, but rather reflect longer-term socio-economic changes and technological advancements.
22 Jun 2006 09:39
Leading strategic brand company, HKLM has identified ten trends that are shaping the international brandscape.
1. HOME ADVANTAGE
Increasingly, international brands are being out-sold by their counterparts in the developing world. These home-grown brands create a sustainable advantage by the clever use of local resources, and by leveraging their reputations and associations to become more credible versions of their international competitors.
Brazilian cosmetics company, Natura, which is rated by Interbrand as Brazil's third most valuable brand with operations in France, Portugal and the UK. Embracing Brazilian culture, values and beliefs, Natura's key selling proposition is linked to the mighty Amazon River and, and unlike the BodyShop, Natura has been able to meet demand without deviating from its brand promise.
And so with Globacom, the first wholly-owned and managed Nigerian telecoms company which offers products uniquely tailored for the needs of the people has resulted the fastest growing GSM operation in Africa achieving a record one million subscribers and nomination as the 'Most Socially Responsible Company of the Year' in This Day Africa Awards.
To be successful, brands will need to focus on NOT being everything to everyone.
Consumers are becoming increasingly individualised, and expect brands to reinforce their own identities by satisfying their needs in a specific and creative way. Brands that focus on one offering will be able to cut through the clutter more efficiently.
The White Company, which began as a 21-page mail-order brochure, and which has grown into one of the UK's fastest-growing multi-channel retailers, specialising in supplying a wide range of beautiful, stylish and affordable home accessories and clothing, principally in white.
Also look at Lemnos, an entertainment and shopping experience in Dubai, named after the Amazonian City and created exclusively for women as an escape to the Western world.
3. SOUL BRANDING
In developed and developing countries, there is an increasing search for spiritual and personal growth and fulfilment - a trend closely linked to a heightened focus on health issues. With stress and burnout everyday realities, people are turning to experiences that relax body, revitalise mind and nurture the soul.
Tazo Tea (from an ancient Greek toast to life), which was introduced by Starbucks in response to growing demand for a healthy alternative. The anti-oxidants contained in the tea reduce ageing and cancer, while the brand also taps into the American trend of looking to the East for spiritual enlightenment. The Tazo brand is now so strong that it commands a 50% premium over all other teas in the US market.
Also look at Maia - an exclusive new luxury Southern Sun resort opening shortly in the Seychelles. The leisure concept is new - focused around reawakening the five senses - and every single aspect of the hotel design, offering, guest experience, staff recruitment, training and intuitive service, is deeply rooted in the brand values. In developing the brand HKLM drew on textures, aromas, esoteric visuals and an unfolding lotus blossom as its central image.
4. BEYOND CSI
Consumers are faced with a plethora of purchasing choices - and are starting to act more intuitively. They're asking themselves - "are these the good guys?"
Brands have to centre their philosophy on a cause, which then needs to be integrated into all the brand communication effectively demonstrating sustainability and credibility. The brand must be the cause, and the cause the brand.
Belu bottled water - an Amalgamated Beverages subsidiary brand that goes way beyond CSI. Whilst ensuring that the company remains viable, it invests all its profits in clean water projects around the world.
In the true meaning of a holistic brand philosophy, the award-winning Belu packaging is a biodegradable 'plastic' bottle, produced from an eco-friendly polymer.
Everyone wins - the customer gets a genuinely socially responsible product plus they know their money is supporting one of the most serious problems the global population is facing, and although there is no direct profit gain for shareholders, the bi-product is positive reputation association.
In the New Marketing Manifesto, John Grant said: "Authenticity is the benchmark against which all brands are now judged."
Consumers don't want to be told, they want to be shown. Brand honesty must come from within.
Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey which has built its success on its authentic heritage appeal and the accessibility of the product. 'Jack', as the product has become affectionately known, has been able to tap into its emotional heritage and original production process to broaden appeal to younger consumers and the female market.
Closer to home, Orlando EKhaya, the brand developed by HKLM for one of Soweto's most recognised, unique and historically significant areas, will eventually house retail and business centres, sport, recreation and education facilities as well as hotel and residential developments.
Preserving its authenticity, Orlando was retained as the primary name for the project because of its legacy, positive association, community spirit and currency - while 'eKhaya' - meaning 'at home' - was chosen for its connotations of warmth and comfort. The brand identity draws on the instantly recognisable cooling towers and the brand essence from the rich heritage and positive aspirations of the area.
6. LEADERSHIP THROUGH DESIGN
In many mature, highly competitive and saturated markets, the only way a brand can effectively differentiate itself is through design.
Apple - the ultimate in cutting edge simplicity - design at its best. Unlike its competitors, Apple retains design as a core focus of their business recognising the importance of distinctive design of its products and retail environments, and sales continue to prove it.
Similarly, Motorola turned to state-of-the-art design to rescue it from a previous strategy that prioritised functionality and engineering, but left it floundering a distant second behind market-leader, Nokia. Building models with keyboards that feel flawless to the touch, the Motorola Razr line product range has since established the brand as the 'King of Thin', effectively taking mobile phone design to a new level.
7. FROM BLAND TO BRAND
Seth Godin, creative business guru and author of a number of marketing and brand books, including 'The Purple Cow' said: "I think the trend of brands telling complex, authentic stories is just beginning to gather steam. It's the future of branding."
A brand that is too simple in its design or communication risks getting lost. Whilst the idea or intent of the brand needs to remain single-minded, the personality can be expressed in a complex and distinctive manner.
Fossil watches - an internationally successful brand that deliberately violates the rules of branding with gleeful abandon. Its packaging strategy depicts the brand in a variety of fonts and settings against a multitude of themes and graphics providing amazing flexibility ... to great effect, and despite its unorthodox packaging, the designers have managed to convey a consistent image that says more about the product than a template design would have achieved.
Another example of breathing life into a brand was the conceptualisation of Ted Baker - a hugely successful clothing and homeware retailer that relied on the creation of a mythical personality to promote the brand. 'Ted Baker' is depicted as a quirky, cool, contemporary kind-of guy who knows what to wear and what to say. He acts as a role model for the brand's target market, with many customers aspiring to be like him.
The Ted Baker stores and website broaden the brand experience by recreating 'Ted's house' with its different rooms and lifestyle options, ultimately allowing the consumer to immerse themselves and participate in the brand essence.
8. THE THIRD PLACE
Brands are the new family. According to Social Trends, in 2020 one-person households will make up 40% of total households within Europe and the US and as singledom becomes a lifestyle of choice brands will become more traditional to fill the gap of a lonely life.
Trendwatching.com predicts that brands are beginning to facilitate social interaction as brand spaces become more important in bringing like-minded individuals together.
Starbucks - a desirable lifestyle experience. It's a 'third place' - a destination that offers a comforting sense of familiarity, which, in the words of a Starbucks manager, "...makes the customer feel so at home that they want to hang out here."
Also look at Japan's Fujiyama Land - a games' haven and home - where people who enjoy playing computer games can immerse themselves completely in what they love doing, interact with fellow gamers, and enjoy an inclusive, complete living space (showers included) that is dedicated to their passion.
9. TAKING RISKS
Market saturation and niching is forcing some brands to take risks in order to differentiate themselves.
According to Marketing Profs : "Today's consumers are tired of playing it straight. It's increasingly important to be seen as someone who is willing to defy convention and marketers who get that, are attaching their brands to things that deliberately go against the grain."
Taking risks can be provocative, stimulating word-of-mouth and word-of-mouse dialogue around that brand.
Virgin Mobile, which stepped in where others feared to tread.
When Kate Moss's cocaine habit was exposed, many of her sponsors rushed to cancel her contracts. Virgin Mobile did the opposite, signing Moss as the brand's new spokesperson, and creating a campaign that became a talking point around the world.
Cheap Monday - a controversial and increasingly popular, Swedish clothing brand - which goes against typical symbolic rules of avoiding designs that may result in negative associations and instead makes an active statement against Christianity by using satanic symbols.
10. BETA BRANDING
Another rapidly growing trend is the increased interaction between the brand and the consumer.
Brands are no longer having a one-sided conversation with consumers. Right from concept stage, the brand acts as a source for consumer interaction and allows company's to tailor messaging and perfect their products according to what the consumer wants.
While consumer-created content is becoming more involved however, it is also becoming less controllable. With marketer and consumer initiated blogging on the rise, brands need to be aware that a member of the audience can rise above the podium and speak for them.
Mini, which is tapping into its customers' intellectual capital through a community website and blog - Mini2 - which allows customers to share problems and ideas. The brand becomes more accessible and more understanding, because it really listens to the consumer.
Another example is the home-made advertisement for Apple Computers' iPod. Unlike other brands, Apple didn't react when schoolteacher, George Masters, posted his 60-second animated ad on his website, they simply stood back and observed their customers' reaction.
In a matter of days, the advert (which wasn't the usual parody or protest, but instead played homage to the brand) was seen 37 000 times and made the rounds on blogs and email. The ad was praised by marketers for its professional production values and was called one of the first 'pure' ads seen on the internet.
Comment guidelines and disclaimer
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Message Board accepts no liability of legal consequences that arise from the Message Boards (e.g. defamation, slander, or other such crimes). All posted messages are the sole property of their respective authors. The maintainer does retain the right to remove any message posts for whatever reasons. People that post messages to this forum are not to libel/slander nor in any other way depict a company, entity, individual(s), or service in a false light; should they do so, the legal consequences are theirs alone. Bizcommunity.com will disclose authors' IP addresses to authorities if compelled to do so by a court of law.