10 Branding Trends for 2011

Business ideas from Ascentive

Your brand is your clear differentiator and your competitive advantage. It’s also the first impression you make with potential customers and the source of attachment that you create with your current customers. Without a doubt, your brand is the most important tool in your business toolbox, and it’s crucial that you use it to maximum benefit. Here are ten of the most popular business trends in 2011; see if you can apply them to your brand.

1)Reason-to-buy
People are tightening their wallets; your brand and product has to delivering real value. You’re in trouble if your brand has no authentic meaning, whether it is high or low-end.

2)Value
Brands have increasingly become a surrogate for “value.” What make goods and services valuable will increasingly be what’s wrapped up in the brand and what consumers believe that brand means.

3)Laser Sharp Research
Marketers will have to comprehend what really drives their category, know what consumers really expect, and where to focus both process and brand efforts.

4)Social Responsibility
Brands must stand for something beyond a product or a service. Not only that, but corporate social responsibility efforts will need to be believable, sustained, and engaging. Some of the strongest will come from those brands that connect the public and the personal in today’s economically challenged world.

5)Differentiation
Differentiation remains critical to brand success as the proliferation of products and services available to consumers continues. While true innovation does exist when it comes to the offerings available, increasingly differentiation will come from what the brand offers emotionally to consumers, especially as the ability of brands to mimic and get “me too” products to market increases.

6)Social Media
Social Networking outside of the brand space will increase as consumers become more comfortable with their power to get the true story on products from total strangers. Brands will need to drive positive feedback out in the virtual world like never before, necessitating a deep understand of their categories. Influence by friends will also increase. If consumers trust the community, they will extend trust to the brand. .

7)Smartphone-friendly
It’s increasingly handheld technology that facilitates transactions. Brands that make it hard to buy on the small screen will suffer. Watch for promotions and coupons to continue to explode, especially if the brand can customize that experience.

8)Increased Competition
Look for increased competition – and not just from traditional brands. The Internet changed the game from consumers feeling they had to know a brand to even consider it. Strong word-of-mouth and positive viral sharing is replacing ubiquitous awareness. Knowing what drives a category, what consumers really expect, and what creates loyalty, can give you a meaningful advantage when entering new and uncharted categories populated by strangers to your brand.

9)Deal-o-the-day sites
Nowadays brands have to work in conjunction with services like Groupon and Foursquare, using the Internet to bind the brand to the real world with real value. Every offer from these sites for your product or service must be consistent with your brand every step of the way.

10)Endorsements
Expect to see more celebrities endorsing products and services in unusual ways. Charlie Sheen was only the beginning.

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