5 Emerging Brand Trends For 2020

excerpted from an article by Geoffrey Colon at Branding Strategy Insider

1. The Majority Of Online Reviews Are Not Real

With a deep mistrust of reviews, prospective customers retreated back to a smaller circle of influence that contains their closest friends, family and allies. As a result, brands should be be careful not to overemphasize their digital footprint, but rather put the effort into earning the five stars. We’ll see authentic five star brands win this decade.

2. Brands Thrive In The Physical World

The past decade has been filled with terrible advice. Brand marketing is not important, advertising is dead, retail is dead. The latter of these three statements is truly one that is so far off in its thinking that it catches many by surprise how brands like Away luggage, Travelocity and Netflix are all in the physical space now even though they are digital brands! We know that brands can’t scale if they aren’t in the living ecosystems of humans.  Only physical and analog can accomplish this which is why it isn’t dead but simply remixed for the world where everything is two degrees away from being a status update on social media.

3. Brand Marketing Matters More Than Ever

The past decade many brands over-indexed on performance. I mean, if everything you were trying to measure and show ROI on matters, then of course long tail activities like brand marketing were thrown into the dust bin. But in 2019 brand marketing struck back. First, several big brands admitted that performance marketing ruined their brands, second, good insights were released noting overemphasizing on strictly performance is junk science. The best of brand marketing still infuses performance marketing into the mix. You can’t get new customers if those new customers don’t know you and they won’t know you if all that you’re doing is hyper targeted, personalized messaging. Brands matter when people can speak to others about them and the social validation occurs when many people have seen the brand. This only happens when brands actually commit to brand marketing.

4. Brands Will Open Storefronts Without Amazon

How is this possible? Well, these digital advertising behemoths are simply middle players looking to take your money for helping to connect people to you. But nobody says you have to play by those rules. Brands aren’t built by digital, they are exposed on digital by people who have heard about the brand in a variety of ways and have taken action to discover the said brand using platforms like search or social.

The physical experience IS now the marketing. And thus, can help brands who have paid a lot of money the past decade in digital to put that budget toward customer experience, service and success where it most counts in a world where intimate word of mouth will matter more than the fake diatribes found in trend #1. And remember a few years ago when people and said brands needed to behave like publishers? Publishers have the most control when they can go direct to their audience. The same can be said with brands. Brands need to be their own storefronts because when you own the store, you can be more personal.

5. People Will Pay More For Brands With A Human Side

The mighty algorithm. We won’t see them ever die but they could mean less in a digital world where many understand how they work and that nothing of interest can be found from them. If you’re like me you may complain that going to Blockbuster back in the day was a terrible experience because even after three hours you still had no clue what to watch. The algorithm was the humans working in the store. Terrible? Not when you think we’ve replaced those humans on many platforms like Netflix, Hulu or Disney+ In music Spotify, Apple and Amazon have done similar. Search, for example, tells us what we want to know, but can’t help if we don’t already know what we want.

Far from disappearing, human curation and sensibilities have a new value in the age of algorithms. Yes, the more we have the more we need automation. But we also increasingly want informed and idiosyncratic selections. The world still needs human curators and concierges to guide us. This is why brands matter. They are these curators and concierges.

In a world where automation has overtaken what we see, hear, sense and smell, it’s important to get back to finding things on the edge using human Sherpas. We relish the messy reality of another’s taste and a trusted personal connection.

We don’t just want correlations – we want a why, a narrative, which machines can’t provide. Unlike so many sectors experiencing technological disruption, from self-driving cars to automated accountancy, the cultural sphere will always value human choice, the unique perspective. And this is why human choice brands have the most value to add in the upcoming year.