To Trend or Not To Trend
Marketing has always been a balancing act of staying in-the-know with what’s trending and blazing trails of creativity. It has to be relevant and relatable, yet innovative and eye-catching, both present and at the same time pushing boundaries.
JUMPING ON THE TREND BANDWAGON
These are the reasons why Dove’s iconic Real Beauty campaign has made a statement about empowering women and at the same time pushed the envelope, bringing up new topics for conversation.
But, it’s also why the minute Dove had incredible consumer response, other brands began to mimic their marketing strategies. All with a powerful message, all looking to join (or re-join) the empowerment conversation. Brands like Nike, Under Armour and Lane Bryant all proudly showcased messages of female pride, confidence and limitless possibilities.
All messages I strongly support. But, as a marketer, I have to look through the lens of when to leverage trends and when a brand becomes a bandwagon brand by doing so. At what point does a trend become a movement and at what point is a brand just saying, ‘oh yes, me too!’
I bucketed trends into three categories: cultural movements, current events and adopting language.
- Cultural movements include trends that make a statement or a call to action to ‘get something done.’ Both female empowerment and LGBTQ support fall under cultural movements.
- Current events are specific conversations or moments such the upcoming Olympics or the retirement of a popular sports star (we’ll miss you, Kobe!).
- Adopting languages speaks to brand tonality and commentary when trying to relate to specific audience groups. Oftentimes this is created by influencers or the audience themselves, meaning it’s very challenging for a brand to authentically adopt, instead of mimic, the behavior. This includes using hashtags such as #adulting, #bae or #onfleek for a millennial audience.
TIME TO JOIN IN?
In an ever-changing society, where culture is constantly on display through social media, how do brands leverage trends successfully and at the right time? Here are three questions to consider, when analyzing trends to make sure your brand, your audience and the trend align:
- Is this trend relevant to the brand voice and in-line with brand beliefs?
- Does the brand have something new to say or a point of view to add to the conversation?
- Will your brand’s message mean something to your audience?
The key component is that a brand should not simply join a conversation, but have something innovative to say about it, connect the trend to the brand purpose and personality. Instead of jumping on board with what others are saying, support, comment, converse, proudly participate, BUT do so in a way that still allows your brand to be a trailblazer – who knows, when you do, it might be the beginning of a new trend.