Friday, March 25, 2016

The Big Shift

A brand is so much more than a logo and tagline. It's the underlying foundation of everything relative to your business – what it is, it's products/services, what values it stands for, who it employs… and the feeling, meaning and thoughts customers get when using the brand's products/services.

Over the past few years, brand development has been experiencing a fundamental shift toward a more personal, connective state in business – and becoming more "humanized." Today's customers expect to be able to interact with brands directly by demanding new products/services and by becoming a more active part of the conversation. Brands and branding techniques are changing to reflect this, as it's now common to see a brand directly communicating with customers over social media. As a result, branding will no longer focus on simply projecting a particular image or lifestyle, but will start to offer more immersive customer experiences, creating a shift from "THE BRAND" to "THE BRAND EXPERIENCE."

To provide the best in immersive customer experiences, brands in 2016 will start to:

1. Tell the brand story to create an emotional connection.
People love stories, especially the ones where they can identify with. This connection forges an emotional bond between the brand and the customer, aligning them with the emotional core of the brand. A mix of visual and content storytelling inspires emotions and increases trust, which leads to more brand value. Every brand has a story, so make sure that story speaks to the customer. Most can relate to a common issue or problem that requires a definitive solution... so share how the brand has overcome these obstacles with a solution... and how the brand can provide the best solution to its customers' issues as well.

2. Present a more customized experience.
From personalized products (personalized coca-cola bottles), customized content (how-to videos, e-books, etc.) to direct connection on social media platforms, the focus is clearly on each individual customer. Customized content marketing will be even more on the rise as brands will spend more time devoted to more relevant and inspiring content creation to meet the customer need. The only way to make customers interact with content is through personalization, and offering this content means sharing relevant, knowledge-based posts and videos that offer solutions. Brands that have been making an effort to personalize their content strategy have been able to increase sales, inspire users to stay longer on their websites & promote customer satisfaction.

3. Be clear on your brand personality... and be human.
Customers are more likely to identify with more humanized brands. The challenge is to figure out which human characteristics your brand possesses. You also want your customers to identify with specific emotions when experiencing your brand. In order to become more humanized, brands should first focus on developing their brand personality and essence. A brand's personality is the application of human characteristics to the brand. It describes how the brand thinks, acts, and reacts. A brand's essence is the intangible emotion you want your customers to feel when they experience your brand – the heart & soul of the brand.

All brands want to create an ongoing relationship with their customers, and this approach will allow them to meet their customers' needs more effectively while keeping them even more closely connected to their customer base.

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