So your brand is future-proof? Pfft. Spice things up in 2018

2018 branding trends that are sure to be a crowd pleaser… at least until 2019.

Welcome to 2018. It’s the kind of place where you can get a gluten-free ostrich burger in 12 different flavours and a woman got married to a tree. It’s (already) been emotional. To really connect with customers out there living their real lives marketers need to keep up. Here are my top picks for trends to watch in small business marketing in the next 12 months.

Life after fake news

fashion-coffee-time-lifestylePeople have had enough of being bamboozled by spin and half-truths – if that’s your bag then your company needs to move on. Expect to see people moving towards brands and ideas that speak with authenticity, not slick marketing speak. Research from 2015 said nine out of 10 people want their companies to do more than make a profit. That’s addressing social or environmental issues and generally giving a crap about something. Whatever it is that your brand does – be honest, be open, be real. The scent of fakery is rapidly going off.

Get under the influence

The next point is closely connected to the first point. Customers don’t put much stock into the boasts of brands nowadays. Instead, social media influencers continue to grow in power and marketing collateral. It used to be that a brand found an influencer and then paid them to push their product, but these savvy operators now understand their value comes from speaking in a credible voice. Don’t expect someone to go off-track with that just because you waved a thousand bucks at them. Find your own voice, then find an influencer that fits. It’ll work better for both of you.

Assume your customer trusts no-one

We’re still on the cynical train for this one (we already told you 2018 was going to be rough – buckle up buttercup). You simply can’t assume consumer confidence. There has been too many data breaches and company collapses for consumers to assume much of anything. This means your product needs to be o-n p-o-i-n-t. Always. The product must be well designed, the online customer service fast and the social media reviews well-curated and monitored. To be reliable in 2018 you need to win on many fronts – your product is your entire digital persona, not just the cute package that arrives in the mail.

The beautiful people over at HubSpot have put together their own collection of 2018-friendly branding looks for small businesses. It’s brimming with the authenticity we marketers think is going to be a huge imperative this year. Take a look through. From soap to beer to vegetables these brands have grabbed the simple aesthetic and made it their own.

You do wonder though, sometimes, whether some brands are working so hard to be under-done they’ve actually, well, overdone it? Does your auto-repair centre need to speak chic? Or just offer an authentically greasy oil-change at a price that works for you? In 2018 the creatives roam the streets. Just occasionally they go too far.

What do you think of HubSpot’s selections? Tell me in the comments!


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