By Fran Johnson
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What will branding look like in 10 years time?

A question I’ve been mulling over for a while reignited itself last weekend, during a conversation with my friend Leila. After speaking about robots (she works in the field of design futures) and earthquakes we moved onto branding.

Leila observed that the latest round of rebrands seem to have come round quicker than usual; companies who haven’t had a logo change for 30 years are now having a revamp. Is this a sign of whats to come? I have a few predictions.

Individualised communication

Consumers understand branding to a greater degree than 10 years ago – they align themselves to certain companies and dismiss others. More than ever we could describe people by where they shop – Boden and Joules have a slightly different customer group than White Stuff and Fatface.

With this in mind I think brands will aim to speak directly to different parts of their target audience in unique ways. I could be part of a slightly different brand experience than you. With the rise of big data, companies have more of an understanding of who we are and what we choose to buy than we like to admit, and it’s not a big leap to suggest our experience will become even more personalised.

We have started to see this trend in social media and other forms of advertising already.

During the Brexit campaign the ‘out’ camp produced leaflets aimed at Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu speakers to argue that voting leave could increase the likelihood of more migration from the commonwealth countries.

South Asian immigrants have ancestors who fought in the world wars, they sacrificed a lot, they speak the language, they have the skills, they are well educated … but they find it hard to come in compared to other individuals from Europe who may not speak the language, understand the culture or have the skills.

Mr Bhatti, interviewed by the Financial times


What will branding look like in 10 years time? The same company, different messages.

Compare that to Farage’s ‘Breaking Point’ of Syrian refugees. Two different audiences, two different messages but the same ‘side’ of the campaign.

The increase of personalisation is easy to imagine, but with it I see the decrease of brands plastering their logo everywhere. Our high streets may lose massive facades, with customers encouraged to tune in to the details – the colour palettes, how experiences are designed, the tone of voice and the illustration style being the main indicators of brand. Which takes me to the next prediction.

Flexible branding

Jo has written a few blog posts on the subject. But the gist is this: no longer is the logo the main or only identifier of brand. Big brands will need to be flexible. Technology is changing at a rapid pace, both hardware and software. How do you demonstrate brand when your customers glean all the information they need from google places, and don’t bother clicking on your website? How do you ensure your sales team answering calls exude the same vibe as the contact page on your site?

In a couple of years time logos won’t be as important as they are now.  A rise in the importance of a mark (think Nike and Airbnb) together with strategic decisions about tone of voice may end up being the cornerstone of branding.

No big brand launches

Flexible branding as a process ensures your brand grows with you, through audience changes and business decisions. Apart from revamping terribly designed brands, I believe big brand launches will be a thing of the past. Branding is moving towards being part of the strategic business decisions of smaller brands as well as the giants.

As branding is about communicating – communicating your message to your audience, I see an iterative approach developing. Small tweaks and changes, deliberate roll outs and strategic decisions around the different audience types are more likely to win over big brand launches! As much as we will miss the critiques on industry blogs, and the excitement surrounding rebrands, I think brands will serve us better. They will listen, develop and connect with us. On one side the whole thing feels too similar to Big Brother, driving our consumer culture. But I will embrace the clear communication, the authenticity that could surface, and the positive outcomes that could arise when brands listen to their audience, and big brand launches are a thing of the past.

One thing I will say though – I imagine these predictions, if true, may come around sooner than we think!



Photograph from the Guardian

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