Trends will always exist in branding. Some will have more staying power than others. In 2020, brands must pay attention to trends like promoting interactive and personalized content and using chatbots. One particular movement that will continue to grow both in prominence and relevance in 2020 – the need for an authentic voice. This trend marks a paradigm shift in the way consumers think and act, so brands must adapt or get left by the wayside.
The term brandstanding has been coined to describe this movement. It refers to a brand that has deep, authentic values and isn’t afraid to take a stand on issues relevant to its supporters. The term was developed as an about-face to grandstanding, or being showy, fake or gimmicky. Brands can no longer feign interest in social causes without authenticity to back it up. They must take a stand to remain relevant in the marketplace; today’s consumers are conditioned to sniff out virtue signaling in a heartbeat.
Consumers want more than a good product or service. They need to feel connected to the brands they love, support, and patronize. This is especially true among millennials and in particular Generation Z, who will make up nearly 30% of the workforce by the year 2030, so it behooves brands to pay attention.
Some brands (highlighted below) were founded on these ideals. Many others have followed suit as necessary. Still others have just recently realized that the marketing landscape has vastly transformed. For those companies, it is particularly important to approach brandstanding in a very thoughtful, measured manner.
Businesses should ensure their values are represented from the inside out and that their employees are bought in to promoted messaging. The C-Suite may face criticism, especially if a brand’s message is a provocative one. But, if brandstanding is executed thoughtfully – in a way that truly represents a target market – it should benefit a business and its customers in the long run.
Whether a political stance, a human rights issue or an environmental cause, different brands approach these issues for different reasons. At its core, a brand must be real. More and more companies will be building this mantra into the framework of their brands in 2020. If you are a brand looking to rethink your social conscience, take a stand for your brand in a way that is authentic and thoughtful. Forget the fluff.
Three Examples of Authentic brands
A standard bearer of “brandstanding” is the outdoor apparel company, Patagonia.
Founded by a group of climbers and surfers, their mission statement is “We’re in business to save our home planet.” They are very upfront about the challenges they face and are continually working to solve these issues. A few years back, they ran the “Don’t buy this jacket” campaign, which encouraged people to purchase only what they needed and to think about the effects of consumerism on the environment. Patagonia saw their revenue grow by 30% as a direct result of this campaign.
Ben and Jerry’s
More than an ice cream company with a cheeky personality, Ben and Jerry’s embodies corporate social responsibility. They dedicate a section on their website to all the social issues they care about, among them include racial justice, climate justice and supporting GMO labeling. The company recently took a brandstand to oppose the use of Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. They also established a foundation to encourage and reward their employees for contributing to their communities and participating in social justice programs. Over the years, Ben and Jerry’s has built a genuinely loyal following and are willing to pay more for their high-quality products.
Since its inception in 2010, eyewear company Warby Parker has been socially conscious. It was founded on the principles of offering designer eyewear at a fair price and giving to those in need. For every pair of glasses purchased, a donation is made to one a nonprofit partner to provide glasses to those with impaired vision (in both developing countries and the U.S.). Warby Parker has grown at an exponential rate over the past 10 years; the online retailer now has brick and mortar stores to service the growing demand for their eyewear.
With these examples and countless others, it is clear that brandstanding has become more of a movement than a trend. As we move into 2020, look for many brands to follow suit and use their stories to inspire and encourage their customers’ vision for the future.
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