Trends are an interesting phenomenon in that they aren’t usually understood to be trends, or a temporary fad, until long after it’s popularity has dissipated. Every form of art and every industry has its trends. Now, if we look at the history of branding, we can see obvious styles, colors, and name paradigms that contributed to the trends of the time, not to mention ways of doing business and interacting with customers.
Although it’s hard to identify trends as they are occurring, I think we’re much more aware of them now. With the voice of the public available for all of us to hear, we notice pretty quickly when something becomes popular.
The problem is, when do you know when something is a passing trend, and when it’s something bigger that you should consider? I think it comes down to asking yourself a few questions. These questions can really be used to determine almost any business or branding decision, but they’re especially helpful for dealing with black and white comparisons such as using social media vs. not using social media.
1. Is it believable for your brand?
What so many business owners fail to understand is that everything they do is relative to their brand. It’s not a matter of if something “works” or “doesn’t work”; what works for one brand might not work for another. Just because your competitor shows footage of their employees attending rave parties on a cruise ship for their recruiting video doesn’t mean that’s what will display yourcompany culture, or will attract the people you want as employees.
Do you see the difference? Nothing in the world of business or branding is a “one size fits all” solution. Rather, we’re all made differently, as people and as brands, so one size might be too large for one brand, and just right for another.
2. Is it helpful for your customer?
Now, there are things to consider when making decisions on behalf of your brand. Although your brand is a fantastic guide, a compass that points to the core of your business, it can become a little stale after a while. Like I’ve said before—the market is constantly changing, and a good brand will change with it as necessary.
The most important variable in business? Communication. The way we communicate is always transforming into something new and (hopefully) better. Communication is also the most rapidly morphing variable to consider, because we’ll easily become comfortable with a given form of communication in a short period of time.
This means that we have to remind ourselves who we are dealing with. Our customers are the reason we exist in the first place, so we have to consider the way they communicate most naturally, and how they are comfortable speaking with an entity from which they purchase goods.
3. Is it the future of our culture?
Sometimes a trend ends up being much more than a trend. I’ll bet a lot of businesses in the year 2000 thought social media was a fluke, and fad amongst young people that would eventually disappear. Now social media is a vital part of business. Get it? Things that might seem utterly trivial now will be irreplaceable aspects of business tomorrow.
So, although our first instinct might be to scoff at something we deem incongruent with our brand, we should take a step back and determine how helpful it could be for us and for our customer in the future.