01/ Rearranged realities
We like to challenge ourselves as brand specialists and keep our finger on the pulse of this rapidly changing world. That is why in this series of 'consumer trends' we are examining a few subjects that will shape the branding world in the coming years.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly boosted the trend that we thought was still a long coming one. Remote working, online shopping and online access to services are not new phenomena, but in 2020, they made it to the mainstream pretty much overnight. Observing new subtrends that emerge from this dynamic is essential. Alternative ways of working, meeting, learning, and buying have rearranged our realities abruptly, causing feelings of displacement and the need to search for reorganizing one’s life. Can brands bring more structure to the (post) pandemic world?
The potential of unified multi-channel branding is significant.
With this rapid shift towards online experience comes a changed expectation from customers about the brand experience overall. The gap between online and offline should now have become so narrow that one could easily and seamlessly jump from one to the other. Bridging this gap means aligning efforts internally across departments, be it marketing, packaging or point-of-sales communication, to create a uniform experience for the customer.
There is one specific part of brand communication that is currently carrying a big part of that weight: digital customer service. Especially regarding tone of voice. It's easy to only see customer service as a catalyst for issues and queries. However, its potential for delivering on promises of multi-channel branding is considerable. A brand can speak with as many voices as there are channels and interlocutors. It is therefore crucial for them to speak in unison.
Brands are in a unique position to develop new rituals for their customers.
In those rearranged realities we speak about, brands have an opportunity to be disruptive. But disruptive should not mean disrupting. Particularly online, where it doesn’t necessarily pay off to shout the loudest. Instead of popping up unsolicitedly on all possible touchpoints, the real challenge and opportunity for brands is to integrate in people’s lives. By doing so, they can help deliver structure and become organizers of life. Brands are in the unique position of designing new rituals for their customers. The great thing is: everybody’s daily life is full of rituals. Waking up, taking care of morning hygiene, drinking coffee, going for a walk, commuting, taking a break, doing hobbies, going to bed… Tapping into these moments as a brand opens the door for deep and meaningful connection with the audience.
While the frontiers between physical and digital brand experience are blurring out from a customer’s perspective, it is less obvious from an employee’s point of view. Since the definition of a workplace has now taken different meanings, building consistent, engaging and strong brand image and experience inside the organisation is absolutely vital. Working with an increased amount of remote workers, nomads and freelancers can quickly show the cracks of a weak employer branding strategy. That’s where there is room to grow. Shaping the internal brand story as profoundly as the external one will make the brand stronger and increase the amount of ambassadors who adhere to it.
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Trends like Rearranged Realities already reshape the branding landscape. But what influence will they have in the long run? Go ahead and download your crystal ball: the “Superhuman” report that contains six scenarios on the future of brands and branding.