As 2022 keeps unfolding it is time to think about how brands can tap into new post-pandemic consumer trends, rethinking their branding and marketing approaches.

 

For better or worse, the pandemic prompted us to hit the reset button and reconsider our priorities, align our sense of purpose and be more purposeful in everything we do, finding out what ultimately makes us happy! 

 

Because if there’s one thing the challenges of these last two years brought to the fore is that time is too short and fragile to be wasted. And we are increasingly seeing this mentality expressed in consumer attitudes, as in the seismic changes in the collective mindset.

 

For brands and marketers, this is a great opportunity to support consumers' pursuit of purpose and to adapt the way they speak to their audience: encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone and nurturing a sense of limitless possibilities!

 

That is why in this article we are going to address how the pandemic has changed the way we build brands, covering the top branding trends on the rise in 2022 and sharing some valuable insights on how brands can stay relevant and be purposeful too!

 

It’s a "brand new us" era!

 

WHAT IS BRANDING AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

 

First things first: to better comprehend the importance of rethinking branding in the post-covid scenario, let’s quickly give a clearer idea of what branding means.

 

As we previously highlighted, branding is much more than a name and a logo. Branding is about how people perceive your business - so they will choose your brand time and again. 

 

Essentially, it is the way your product or service lives in the hearts and minds of your customer.

 

And although some people might think branding and marketing are the same, they are not.

 

Branding is about defining who you are as a company and showing and acting according to it, while marketing is the actions you take to connect with your customers and get them to buy your products or services!

 

In a nutshell: branding is what you are, and marketing is what you do.

 

They are both crucial to the success of your business and work in sync with one another! Yet, branding is what makes your marketing unique and authentic.

 

And it's important because, in this saturated world of marketing with a lot of noise, compelling branding is what can make your business stand out from the competition and create a memorable impression on your consumers. When done right, branding has the power to influence, inspire and create change.

 

NEW CONSUMERS' MENTALITY IN THE POST-PANDEMIC 

 

One of the first steps in building a solid brand is knowing your audience and anticipating their wants and needs. Don’t do the mistake of skipping this step.

 

That is why, before we get into the new trends in branding, we need to understand how consumer behavior has been changing in these last few years.

 

The fact is, your target audience has dramatically changed, even if you haven't.

 

The pandemic has affected the lifestyles and motivations of many people and led to new ways to buy goods and consume information.

 

Let us get into it! These are some good pointers for the new consumers' mentality:

 

  • The Pursuit of Purpose and Fulfilment in Life: according to the shared stats in this Forbes article “50% of consumers say the pandemic caused them to rethink their purpose and priorities. (Accenture)”. Following these times of greater insecurity and strict rules, people are demanding more from life than just making a living. The pursuit of purpose has kickstarted again, this time with fulfillment and adventure at its core! People feel confident to challenge the status quo and pursue what truly brings them joy, to life to the fullest. And want to connect with brands that reflect those values!
  • Treating Oneself and Indulging as a Top Priority: also, the Zeitgeist research from GWI shows that treating oneself and indulging is among the top three things that have become more important to consumers in the past year, behind saving money and spending time with loved ones. This might require moving to a more settled and calmer suburban or rural setting, or just investing in more me-time and taking care of their physical and mental wellbeing. So, brands should also be addressing these needs and sympathizing with them.
  • Feeling More Empowered than Before: another remarkable change that has been evolving is the emergence of the quantified self and how digital is empowering consumers in a way never seen before! Through new technologies and digital apps, we can now track everything we do, from our food to our sleep, our exercise, and even far beyond our activities! We can also track where our waste ends up, the supply chain of the food we buy, the content our child is allowed to watch online, and thousands of other examples. This means that consumers are increasingly savvier about what works or not, and more equipped with the tools to evaluate brands, with a direct impact on customer loyalty and engagement.
  • Changing Behaviors and Expectations: 75% of consumers say the pandemic will drive long-term changes in their behavior. (Forrester)”, this stat is also from Forbes article and we are already seeing it happen in regard to what consumers expect and value. Customers know brands have the technology tools to automate and personalize many aspects of customer service, and they expect it to happen. They have realized the convenience of digital channels and now expect them to work smoothly for all brands. They also seek more self-service models with the help of knowledge centers, bots, or communities. Just look at all this data: “93% of customer service teams say customers have higher expectations than ever before. (Hubspot)”, plus “58% of consumers say their customer service expectations are higher than they were a year ago. (TalkDesk)”. There is no way to ignore it! Either brands can blindly continue the same approach to customer service or find new ways to adapt and evolve to their expectations. What is going to be?

 

 

BRANDING TRENDS TO WATCH FOR IN 2022

 

So, how exactly does this change in consumers' behavior will impact the way we build brands, in this so-called new normal that still carries a lot of new challenges and uncertainties?

 

For sure, at least we should be focusing on what we do know already changed and on what we can do better to adapt for the future. 

 

Like everyone else, it is time for businesses and brands to realign their routes, rethink priorities and be more purposeful in what they do, always with their new customers in mind.

 

Here are the top 8 branding trends you surely do not want to miss this year:

  1. Nurture Consumers’ New Aspirations: one of the best ways for brands and marketers to stand out is to align their messaging and tone with this new “You only live once” (YOLO) motto - which some of the biggest brands, like Lexus in its “No ceiling” campaign that inspires people to “let go of the wheel” or PlayStation in its “Play has no limits” ad that presents new horizons in the virtual world, are already doing. Not only should brands take advantage of and encourage the desire to explore new horizons, but they should also nurture the modern sense of hedonism. And support an improved lifestyle, where wellness and mental health take center stage, considering how their brand activities can become a part of healthy me-time and effectively valuing their audience's time
  2. Keep a Pulse on What Customers Wantthese days, as consumers, we are used to getting what we want when we want. With the sudden changes we all recently had to face, we heard a lot about the importance of agility and innovation in companies. And businesses and brands indeed have to keep up with this wind of transformation, striving to be innovative and keep on top of the latest trends! Of course, they can only do it successfully with a data-driven branding strategy, navigating through the vast amounts of data companies and consumers create every day and taking advantage of analytics and business intelligence tools to make sense of it. The insights you glean will allow you to make better branding decisions.
  3. Holistic Cross Channels Experience: Consumers' expectations were already on the rise before Covid-19, and long gone are the days when businesses only had to exist in brick and mortar. Now, every company should give their customers a chance to experience their brand through as many channels as possible. Because we are not competing with our competitors anymore, we are competing with the last best experience our customers had. So, it’s not enough to have a presence, with a website and on social networks. Marketers must invest in driving engagement mapped to customer needs. And this doesn’t mean the future is entirely digital: “In 2022, we expect to see more hybrid marketing strategies that still allow audiences to embrace virtual events and conferences, as well as physical opportunities”, and experiential marketing campaigns will “enable audiences to step into an immersive experience that is often in a physical place or via an AR/VR platform”, a Hubspot article foresees. This way, online and offline are starting to come together to offer a holistic sense of brands, as some of the most persuasive sensations can only be experienced in the physical world.
  4. Bet on Creative Interactive Branding: Creative expression through social media is on the rise and customers want a more responsive experience from the businesses they follow. They want to influence and contribute to the content they consume. And only brands that understand that marketing is a two-way street will be able to capture their audience’s attention and succeed in the current landscape! Thus, inspiring user-generated content is what you should double down on this year, turning your audience into your influencers! Samsung’s “Unfold your world” campaign is a great example of this.
  5. Reimagine Community Building: as pandemic led individuals to come together as a community and help each other out in difficult times, brands should not underestimate the power of building and nurturing strong communities that recognize their values and vision. But we can start reimagining community’ building to expand to new formats that embrace VR and immersive worlds. Consider the endless possibilities this brings for consumers, brands, and wider societal issues! To have a space to connect with and understand consumers even more deeply by offering them experiences you could not possibly give in the real world, such as this wonderful example of giving a disabled kid a pair of superpower legs.
  6. Stand for Something “Bigger”: these past years have brought social issues to the forefront, and brands that don't recognize that their customers are influenced by societal concerns are at risk of being left behind. Consumers are more aware of the "social consciousness" of brands, which brings a new approach to branding: if before brands should stand behind great products, now they should also stand behind great values. They need to stand for something, adopt more ethical business processes and implement sustainable initiatives if they want to retain their customers' trust and loyalty.
  7. Nostalgic Appeal and Authenticity: “Remember the time when…?” has been often repeated by people missing the times before the pandemic banged in. It usually takes us back to a period of happy memories and that is why the power of nostalgia creates an opportunity for brands to help their customers travel back in time to those cherished moments. Besides, new audiences that are trying to close the recent chapter on the curated self and its unreal standards of perfection, are more likely to want companies to be authentic and go back to a more genuine, natural, and spontaneous aesthetic and tone of voice, reminiscing previous times. It's important for brands “to stay authentic and not overdo it” to convey credibility and trust, as pointed out in another Forbes article.
  8. Unpretentious Branding and Partnerships: Consumers are starting to get sick of all the ads and pieces of meaningless information being shoved into their faces every minute. To counter the constant onslaught of promotional content to which consumers are subject, brands have started to find ways to market themselves without relying on traditional brand elements and visual identity. Sometimes without even showing their brand names or logos, leveraging their unique value propositions and focusing on providing valuable resources and information that their target audience craves. In the same way, several brands are partnering with other like-minded brands to collaborate on common causes and genuinely contribute to adding value to others. 

 

TAKING BACK CONTROL WITH PURPOSEFUL BRANDING 

 

While the chaos from these years has made it increasingly difficult to predict what is in store, it is possible for brands to take back control. More than that, it can be an exciting opportunity to rewrite their future and put things back together in a way they haven’t done before!

 

In a world of increased scrutiny, what all brand stakeholders demand more than ever is authenticity, meaning, and purpose! So, bring your customers along with you and empower them to participate in your vision, help create their own experiences and become your biggest ambassadors!

 

Brands have an unparalleled opportunity to “get rid of bullshit” and stop bombarding the right clients with the wrong message. To use data as their fuel, yet use the power of storytelling to drive meaningful human connections - in a perfect blend of science and art! 

 

Customers are not separate from the company anymore. They are here for the products and experiences they love, so we should be putting them at the center of all decisions, only communicating when relevant to them. 

 

This is about creating your brand’s best customer experience, by remembering that old saying of “being more, by doing less”. With a renewed focus on betterment, more intuitive technologies, new products, and services that prioritize the customer perspective above everything!

 

Now is also a great time to try out new things, reinventing companies and brands where necessary. To rethink branding and marketing strategies as a way to stay relevant and cope with the changing consumer behavior.

 

As 2022 is promising to be a roller coaster, the only way for brands to survive in this ever-changing world is to regain control with purposeful, lasting branding!  

 

Netwired team can seat right next to you, offering branding & marketing services with an intentional and mindful approach for long-term impact. Are you ready to take the ride?