This month, Landor Associates released its 2012 trends forecast that focused on marketing trends that will affect brands in the coming year. Many of the insights from the forecast focused on four key areas — stories, extensions and expansion, mobile, and change. Topics like smartphones, tablets, apps, China, and baby boomers are covered in this forecast, which sheds light on the big marketing trends coming for brands in the new year.
Following are some of the highlights from Landor’s forecast. Keep these marketing trends on your radar screen as you prepare your 2012 brand strategy.
Storytelling has been a buzz word in social media and content marketing circles for a while now, so it’s not surprising to see reference to the importance of storytelling in Landor’s 2012 forecast. According to the report, Landor breaks storytelling into two distinct areas that will each have a significant impact on brands in the new year — brand naming and image sharing
When it comes to brand naming, Landor expects brand names to become more abstract in 2012, not only because there are already over one million names trademarked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but also because a coined brand name better enables a company to create and tell a story.
Similarly, image sharing will become a higher priority for brand marketing in 2012. Social sites like Flickr and Pinterest make it easy for brands to communicate with audiences without words. Even Facebook (with 90 million uploaded images) is a social destination where brands can tell stories through pictures that are easily discussed and shared.
Brand Extensions and Expansion
Landor cites two primary areas for brand extensions and expansion in 2012 — baby boomers and China. Each is highly attractive for brands from a wide variety of industries.
First, baby boomers present a huge audience of consumers who proved in 2011 that they’re willing to use new technology and they have money to spend. In 2012, brands have new opportunities to connect with the baby boomer audience through online and mobile media as well as with brand extensions that offer targeted features and benefits for this population.
China represents a huge market of consumers as well, however, Landor sees the biggest opportunities for luxury brands to target Chinese consumers who have already demonstrated their interest in international luxury brands, particularly when those luxury brands integrate Chinese culture into their products. For example, brands that create extensions made specifically for China are highly regarded. This is a market that offers great potential for luxury brand expansion.
Landor recognizes the importance of mobile marketing in 2012 for brand growth, but mobile is also essential for brands to retain their current positions. Increasingly mobile consumers who are hyper-connected expect brands to be available at their fingertips, and brands need to make sure to be there. Landor suggests two areas of focus in 2012 — apps and tablets.
There are so many apps available right now that it’s hard to know which ones to use. Landor doesn’t see that as a bad thing. That’s because the best apps and the apps from powerful brands will rise to the top over time and all the rest will fade in popularity. Therefore, a key part of brand development in 2012 should be a focus on the mobile audience and mobile apps.
Tablets are also a key area of interest for brands in 2012. Therefore, brands should develop a plan to migrate their audiences to tablets, focus on video content optimized for tablets, and create a tablet-friendly user experience. Tablets aren’t going away. In fact, they’ll probably be everywhere sooner than you think. Landor notes in its forecast that even cars will be equipped with some type of tablet device in the future. Your brand marketing needs to be mobile-ready, too.
We live in a world of instant gratification, and brands need to adapt to consumers’ need for real-time communication and immediate action. Allen Adamson, Managing Director of Landor’s New York office (who wrote the forward for my book, Building Brand Value the Playboy Way, and is one of my favorite branding thought leaders), summed up the importance of company adaptability to brand success in the future in just a few sentences:
“Put simply, companies that once thought in terms of “built to last” must now think in terms of “built to change.” Creative thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit are the price of entry, and any company that doesn’t recognize change as the new normal will not have a fighting chance. … The ability to make things happen in real-time will be a critical asset and competitive advantage. Companies that watch and ponder, and wait for conclusive evidence before launching into a new endeavor will be left in the dust. It’s time to get comfortable with calculated risk-taking.” — Allen Adamson, Landor Associates
I couldn’t agree more with Allen’s insights related to change. I’m always saying that companies can’t get out of their own way and it’s a recipe for failure. Do yourself and your brand a favor in 2012, and get out of your own way!