Top 3 Brand & Digital Marketing Trends for 2017/2018

2018? Why are we even going there, it’s ages away? Both you and I know that whether we like it or not, 2017 will fly by and it’s already 2018 in the blink of an eye. We are almost half way through 2017 and a good point at which to suss out what to look out for - for the rest of this year and onto the next!

In order to truly benefit from what’s to come – you need to embrace not just one of the below trends, but all of them. Incorporating the following trends to form part of your strategy will not only benefit your business but also put you ahead of your competitors who fail to adapt to the oncoming changes.

Trend #1: Authentic Visual

By 2018, an estimated 84% of communications will be visual. With the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat expanding the horizons of visual content, there are no signs of the need for visual content slowing down.

Visual content is great for a number of reasons:

  1. Unique visuals can increase brand awareness
  2. It can increase message association
  3. It increases customer engagement
  4. It strengthens the overall design of your website and feel of your brand
  5. It makes information more digestible and impactful for your customers

So you are already familiar with this growing need for visual content, but what type of visual content specifically should you look at investing in over the next year? Two things: video and brand photography.

The video medium continues to explode in popularity with roughly 79% of Internet traffic predicted to be video content by 2018. Few businesses have properly invested in high-quality videos, but the tables are starting to slowly turn with video being a key tool to perfectly showcase brand personality. I know you’re probably thinking how expensive videographers can be, and although it’s worth the investment, not everyone has that kind of money lying about. So instead, for now, work with what you’ve got in your back pocket – your smartphone. There are a wealth of easy-to-use video editing apps you can download and with a little bit of practice, you’ll be a pro!

So I wrote another blog about 2 weeks ago on how unique brand photography can benefit your business, so I won’t go into too much detail but instead, cover some key points. In this smartphone society brand photography is quickly becoming the new norm in the world of marketing. It’s a true art to be able to transform a picture into a photo that tells the unique story of your brand and connects with your ideal audience. Scrap that soulless corporate stock photography and cheesy graphics. Either invest to get the best (get a brand photographer) or learn from the best to be the best (join the free brand photography challenge).

Trend #2: Humanising brands

Why do I need to humanise my brand? No one likes to interact with robots or machines. Humans need to at least feel like they’re engaging with real human beings even more so now since the takeover of social media. People need to find a brand that they can relate to and can develop a connection with, and content marketing is a useful tool to help humanise your brand.

There are a few steps in humanising your brand. It starts with your brand identity and who you are as a company, because if you don’t know who you are, how do you expect to communicate it to your customers. You and your business don’t need to go on a gap year just to ‘find yourself’, but need to sit down and start asking yourself some thought-provoking questions about your business (if you’re having difficulty with this then get in touch as this is something I help my clients with).

Once you’ve got the above down, there are some more simple steps you can take to humanise your brand for your audience:

  • Tell your story
    It’s good to give your customers history and context on where you’ve come from and where your business aspirations hope to take you. Giving your brand a bit of background and showcasing it using unique story-telling imagery is key to humanising your brand.
     
  • Create experiences for your customer
    Take your brand personality and let it shine through your imagery and video content. Show them the different dimensions of your brand personality, whether that is your funny, entertaining or emotional side – it makes you all the more relatable; again, imagery and video are the best tools for this. Your customers also want to connect with the people behind the brand as well so step out into the limelight every now and again!

Also, take a look at last weeks blog on Brand Personality - what it is, why you need it and how you can showcase it. Brand personality is key to humanising your brand.

Trend #3: Engagement Economy

The new Engagement Economy is a world where everyone and everything is connected, fundamentally shifting the relationships between customers and businesses. Customers want a more personalised and more meaningful experience from businesses and also want brands to understand them at a personal level. Listening and engaging with your customers is also key to building brand loyalty and trust. So there are three basic steps to winning over the engagement economy:

  1. Listen
    It is important that you are sensitive to how your customers are interacting with you and your business. Your social media channels are a great way to keep your ear to the ground and have your finger on the pulse with your customer's needs.
  2. Engage
    Let them know you are listening. Personally interact with your customers through your communication channels, and take the time to respond to as many questions/comments as you can. Remember to try and not sound like a robot, and add some personality or empathy to your responses. In the digital world, engagement is gold.
  3. Learn
    It’s one thing saying that you’ll change and another actually actioning those changes. The proof is in the pudding and the way in which to really gain your customers trust and loyalty is to show them that you have really taken on board their feedback. Actioning your customer’s suggestions will make them feel heard and valued.

Someone I know who does engagement through social media really well is Sarah Cook. So if engaging with your audience is something that you're struggling with or could do with brushing up on then book a social media tutorial with her!

I know that this is a pretty long blog but I didn’t want to cut short on detail. I could have listed way more than 3 digital marketing trends but these are the key developments I see being the most beneficial to you this coming year. So here are the key takeaways:

  • Invest in authentic and unique visuals as well as embracing and utilising video content.
  • Humanise your brand by telling your story and creating experiences for your customers.
  • Listen, engage and learn from your customers to give them a more meaningful and personalised experience, and to win over the engagement economy.
I’d love to hear about any other digital marketing trends you’re predicting for 2018, so please get in touch with me or leave a comment below!

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