As one year ends, another begins — and with it comes new opportunities for businesses and brands to make the next 12 months as successful as they possibly can. But unless you’re literally from the future, how do you get your marketing ducks all lined up in a row?
What you need is 20/20 vision, a window into the biggest trends and best practices companies are expected to follow for a better year ahead. Resolutions are, after all, about making that conscious decision to plan, prepare and implement positive changes that will stand you in good stead for the future.
2020, in particular, looks set to be an uncertain year for many. Nobody really knows to what extent the current climate will affect the market, and businesses will be looking to instil confidence and trust within their customers.
According to a recent study by Altimeter, increasing brand awareness and ‘brand health’ is the primary goal for businesses in 2020 — followed by lead generation (26%) and customer experience (20%). This essentially boils down to maintaining clear, consistent and, crucially, engaging communication with all new and existing customers.
Strong brand awareness for your business means people can easily recall who you are and what you do. It also encourages audiences to formulate meaningful relationships with your brand on a much deeper and far more personal level. Brand awareness is not something solely reserved for the launch of a new service or product; it’s about maximising exposure and doing everything to improve the perception, reputation and overall recognition of your brand. It’s also something that every business needs to be actively growing all year round.
If you’re not already making plans to increase brand awareness in 2020, then that’s the first thing you need to change. If you are, then that’s great. Regardless of what camp you fall into, here are a few more things to consider when making 2020 your best year so far.
In today’s face-paced, digitally-driven society, it’s easy for businesses to get lost in the marketing chatter. We’ve grown so accustomed to companies vying for our attention — across print, our devices and in our inboxes — that there’s minimal distinction between brands.
What’s more, this new, overly-automated environment is effectively stripping the customer/brand relationship of its most essential element; the human touch. In order to stand out, businesses need to reconnect with audiences on a level beyond the glittering lure of instant gratification. They need to administer brand storytelling.
Stories have the power to tap into our emotions and inspire us. For thousands of years, people have used stories to convey themes, ideas and evoke underlying feelings in the most memorable and experiential ways. Brand storytelling is essentially the same premise, a cohesive narrative that weaves together the important facts and emotions that your brand evokes. We can all think of campaigns featuring, for example, an overarching message of equality, inclusivity or empowerment (think Nike). These are all great themes to associate with a product or service — and they do so in a format that’s easy for audiences to take in.
2020 will be the year when businesses use brand storytelling to reinforce that all-too elusive human touch, telling stories about heritage, history, the roots of an organisation and its people to instil authenticity and trust. To celebrate 25 years of PlayStation, Sony did something very similar this year, telling the story of its lineage through pop-culture iconography and the players. Even the aspect ratio in the video (above) changes from 4:3, which was standard for the time, to the 16:9 we have today.
Last year we said that businesses in 2019 should do more to demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility — mentioning, at the time, that 86% of UK consumers expect companies to consider their impact on society as much as their own business interests.
Supporting deserving causes and communities not only looks desirable from an external perspective but can also unify workforces from a motivational standpoint, bringing out the best in everybody. Businesses fortunate enough to be in a position where they can give back should give something.
With the global issue of sustainability and the impact of climate change being what it is, the agenda for 2020 looks pretty certain. Already brands are making a point of adopting greener ethics, doing everything they can to prevent further damage to our natural world. And while some organisations don’t have the knowledge or resources to implement sustainable practices themselves, partnerships with companies that do is a strong way of delivering that same message.
Unilever reports that a third of consumers are now buying from brands based on their environmental impact, and more than one in five will actively choose brands that are transparent about their sustainability efforts. Companies like McDonald’s and Starbucks have been widely applauded for their commitment to abolishing plastic straws and using sustainable materials in their packaging. Meanwhile, French sportswear brand Lacoste received equally positive praise for its successful partnership with The IUNC. Earlier in the year, the brand released a line of polo shirts replacing the signature crocodile logo with animals facing extinction — donating all profits to help protect and raise awareness of some of the planet’s most endangered species.
As mentioned at the very start of this article, customer experience will be a primary focus for many companies in 2020. But what does this actually mean — how can brands constantly on top of their customer experience possibly make things even better?
The answer, it seems, lies in hyper-personalisation.
According to Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a company that knows their name and recommends relevant products. This makes a lot of sense; we’re already at a point where smart devices around the home tailor the shows we watch, or the music we listen to, according to our preferences and behaviours. And for years now, brands like Amazon and ASOS seem to know precisely what we want to buy before even we do.
Thanks to the digitisation of nearly everything, it’s not difficult for companies to personalise customer experiences. Email, social media and content marketing all play huge roles in delivering experiences that feel tailor-made, while developers are continually pushing the level of customisation users can expect when browsing a website.
Dark Mode is the latest example of website customisation that can dramatically improve an individual’s browsing experience. The feature has now become a staple on most browsing devices, switching the OS background to black to reduce eyestrain and, in some instances, extend battery life. 2020 will see more websites adopt this functionality, enabling users to adjust the visibility/aesthetic to their own liking.
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