Making predictions is an inherently messy business. At best, you can make a powerful career out of it, yet far more often, you’re writing in permanent ink on things that are best-guess thoughts. Sharing your predictions is a dangerous game, but it’s one I am excited to play.
There is a seismic shift happening in the branding world that is almost a decade in the making, and in 2015 this shift will become too large to ignore. Technology has changed marketing, yet often this line of thought is confined to discussions of media. What’s just as clear is the larger impact technology continues to have on branding.
No longer are rubber-stamped logos and tag lines king: Companies can connect with their customers across an unlimited number of potential touch points (are you Snapchat friends with GE?), and the marketing world grows more fascinating every day because of it.
This evolution will continue in 2015, and will manifest itself in three ways:
1. Brands will stop thinking differently about “business” vs. “consumer.”
As the number of ways brands can connect with their audiences continues to grow, we’re seeing a convergence of B2B and B2C—and, frankly, it’s about time. Organizations are realizing that standing for one powerful brand message, then tailoring it for specific targets with different drivers in a way that reaches every human, rationally and emotionally, is how successful brands are built.
Want a great example? Look at Verizon’s “Powerful Answers”: The company is in a dogfight with AT&T for B2B customers, B2C customers, and cellphone and retail partners, yet its story is not broken apart in this complex landscape. Instead, Verizon is about one thing: An aspirational, emotional tone that shows its audiences how it solves complex and technical challenges.
2. Big Data will still be big news—but marketers will realize it’s not at the expense of intuition. Marketers have rightfully spent the past few years enamored with Big Data’s potential, and its ability to provide detailed insights on customers and prospects that marketers used to only dream of. But while quantitative data can help validate marketing ideas, it’s still just one piece of a much larger puzzle—one that includes inspiration, creativity, and intuition.
Great ideas usually start with a flash of inspiration: An entrepreneur, for example, noticing that every driver with an empty passenger seat is a potential ride sharer. A retailer uses qualitative knowledge of his customer base to realize that upgraded shipping can work. And yes, while Netflix’s algorithmic process gets all of the attention for “House of Cards,” it’s the combination of this data with director David Fincher’s inspired vision that led to a smash hit.
3. Brands will focus more on interactions, regardless of technique and medium.
Companies are gradually understanding that marketing doesn’t only live at the 30,000-foot level. Building a brand today means creating a full ecosystem of touch points for all constituencies – internal and external – from the C-suite all the way down to the six-foot level. This is where some of the most meaningful interactions happen – and in this landscape, every moment matters, and no touch point should be considered too small to make a difference.
My loyalty to Delta Airlines wasn’t born out of its massive advertising campaigns, or an affinity for the “Keep Climbing” slogan — instead, it grew from a small customer service moment that brought the company’s brand story to life for me, and made a difference in my day. As brands continue to see the power and impact of these micro-moments, they’ll use every interaction and channel available, with precision, to drive engagement with audiences in 2015.