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Digital Trends In the Context of Your Brand

Contextualize Marketing Trends Within Your Brand Framework

We recently examined four digital trends and how to make them work for your brand. In this post, we will look at how to use your existing brand framework to evaluate marketing trends and their fit for your brand.

by Alexis Church

October 31, 2016

Examine your Brand

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” - Jeff Bezos  

You have worked hard to establish your brand. But now you are looking at emerging marketing trends in the ever-changing world of digital media. How will these trends fit into your current branding strategy? Before you get started, get back to the basics.

Continue to build your reputation by leveraging new trends and emerging digital channels by returning to the guidelines you've put in place for your brand. In this post, we'll show you how to turn to your existing brand strategy to evaluate a trend's fit for your objectives.

What are your goals?

When you are evaluating a channel, you should first and foremost make sure that channel will help you achieve your goals. To do this, you should first understand your goals. What do you hope to achieve through your marketing? Are you looking to gain awareness? Or are you further down the funnel looking at creating and converting leads? Have a definite understanding of your marketing objectives before you begin to establish the channels you will use or the trends that you hope to leverage.

Once you have an understanding of your goals, look at the channel or marketing trend you are hoping to employ for your strategy. How does it support your objectives? If you struggle to define how it helps your objectives, that should be a red flag, and it’s not the platform for you. On the other hand, if there is a clear connection between your objectives and this digital format continue to contextualize this trend in your framework.

What are your brand values?

Take a look at your brand values. The main reason brands should consider their values is to ensure that the platform aligns with their values. What are you absolutely for? What are you absolutely against? Do the platform's values put it into one of those two camps?

Once you understand the foundations that you have laid for your brand values decide how you will incorporate these into your venture onto a new channel. Are you having trouble seeing your values on this new channel? This could mean that you should consider a different channel or trend.

How do you express your brand visually?

Look at the brand guidelines that you created when you began your digital marketing. What fonts do you use? What is your color palette? What types of visuals do you use? What about your logo? Will the new digital platform allow you to express your visual identity enough? The key to branding is consistency, and if you are not able to create a consistent experience across all platforms, including the new platform you are considering, then it might not be a good fit.

Consider these aspects of your brand and decide how you will incorporate them into the new digital trend you are looking to enter. Use your existing branding outlines as a springboard for diving into this new trend. Do not forget to incorporate your:

  • Brand guidelines

  • Visual Identity

  • Style guide

By integrating each of these established elements of your brand as you set out on a new channel or with a new trend, you will maintain your brand integrity.

What is your budget?

Take a look at your marketing and branding budget. Are you able to test drive a new platform for free? Is there an option to add paid ads later if you find you are successful on the platform? Ask yourself these questions and then see if there is room in your budget for possible additional incurred costs.

Look at your human capital and your marketing team. Do you have time to invest in the start-up and the learning curve of a new platform? If you don’t, does someone else on your team have the bandwidth? Evaluate who will take on this new task and if you realistically have the time. If you cannot find the time, maybe you need to reorganize priorities or hold off on this platform.

Consider your Buyer Personas

You must understand if a new marketing channel is appropriate for your target personas and tailored to their needs and use habits. Look at the buyer persona’s overarching narrative and their demographics and use those to determine what channels will be best for your advertising.

Who is your audience?

Describe your target buyer personas. What do they look like from a high level? This information can be used as the broadest filter for determining fit. Having a general narrative about your buyer personas will help you narrow down what channels to further investigate fit.

With a general idea of what your personas are you can narrow your choice of channels down from many to a handful. From there you can take a closer look at the use demographics of your personas to reach a finite understanding of what digital channels will best serve your needs.

You most likely have data on your buyer personas, but are you leveraging it as best as you can? The demographics of your buyer personas may lead you directly to what marketing trends and channels are best for your brand. Think of your target demographic research as the trail of breadcrumbs that will guide you to your lead or customer.

85% of Snapchat users are between the ages of 13-34. Do your buyer persona demographics fit in this demographic category? If so then maybe this is the place for your brand. If you are trying to reach baby boomers, you may try a different way to reach these users. Remember that it is not worth investing in something if it doesn’t help you reach your target audience. You should always investigate who uses the channel that you are looking at and where potential demographic growth in the adaptation of the channel will be.

Where do they spend their time (digitally)?

We touched upon this point in the last section. Figure out where your buyer personas are spending their time and adjust your digital strategy channel accordingly. Pew has useful data for understanding the demographics of social media users. Notably, this data is slightly outdated as a trade-off for accuracy. Use the Pew data as a basis for your understanding and supplement it with data from other sources.

Additionally, understand what content format is best for your personas. If your persona doesn’t trust video and prefers text backed by data, you can use this information to guide you towards the right digital marketing channels - which probably are not video sharing sites like youtube or vine. Conversely, if your persona won’t spend more than a minute skimming an article maybe a tweet or video is the best way to reach them.

Aerie’s Strong Brand Message on the Right Channels

Recently, American Eagle’s Aerie brand has demonstrated a keen understanding of their customer base and buyer personas. Aerie released the “Aerie Real Beauty campaign” which uses non-photoshopped models of all sizes. They saw that their buyer personas consuming were tired of seeing unrealistic body images and wanted messaging that supported a real range of bodies and women. They listened to online movements of body positivity and saw trends towards female empowerment and body positivity and harnessed the momentum. They used the idea and channeled a Twitter campaign, as well as creating youtube videos and billboards to get the word out. They went to their demographic where they were and created a campaign with impactful messaging while maintaining an authentic brand image. The results were apparent with a 20% surge in sales in 2015 - growth that looks like it will sustain in 2016.

Airbnb Misses the Target

Last year Airbnb lost a case - which was later appealed - to the city of San Francisco that caused them to have to pay hotel taxes. They responded with a caustic marketing campaign on municipal transportation stops. The advertisements, which were meant to make light of the $12 million in taxes they would have to pay the city, made San Francisco natives take to social media. The signs came in the form of short letters to libraries and public works which bitingly told them to enjoy the $12 million dollars in taxes. Airbnb missed their target with this campaign and seemingly forgot that a large part of their business plan consisted of having a supportive base of locals to provide space for vacationers.

Zeroing In On Your Approach to New Digital Channels

Overall we see that creating a brand architecture and employing it to determine the correct marketing trends and digital channels for your brand can be extremely useful. By leveraging a strong understanding of your brand as you evaluate potential new channels you will be able to move forward with a thoughtful strategy.

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