In our last post we wrote about the three biggest trends in brand strategy. Today we want to take a look at the three communication themes, which seem to be less popular nowadays than they were a decade or two ago. By no means are we trying to say that these strategies are no longer being applied. They were simply predominant in the past and for a number of reasons (mainly societal) are not today.
As we previously mentioned, based on a BrandStruck analysis of more than 100 of the most inspiring brands in the world, authenticity, empowerment and inclusivity have become “must-have” elements of many brand strategies. However, it must be said that alongside their growing fashionableness and the communication focus moving from product to consumer (“it’s not about us, it’s about you”), brands have let go of much of their boldness and as a result, they now less frequently communicate the following themes:
In the past, this was a popular technique for essentially stating that a product, a company or a brand was the best, the biggest, the fastest, the most global, the most prestigious or produced products of the highest possible quality. Nowadays, this approach appears too primitive, with brands attempting to find a more concrete approach in their communication and translate their product features into consumer benefits. Even Microsoft’s communications are now more about empowering people and organizations (to achieve more) than about its leadership, power and ubiquity. Walmart, the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue, positions itself as a warm brand that helps people save money and thus, to live better. American Express, which used to be a textbook example of a Ruler brand, today aspires to be more of an everyday product.
This approach likely stems from the fact that businesses today feel more responsible for their words and prefer to under-promise and over-deliver, rather than the other way around.
We are living in unexampled times, where many companies change the way in which we live and work, and where entire industries are being disrupted by new players. Yet the way in which today’s rebels communicate their undoubtedly huge impact on the world seems rather underwhelming. Uber positions itself as “an everyday transportation option for millions of people”; Airbnb focuses on building a sense of belonging, while Spotify states that it makes it “easy to find the right music for every moment”. No big words, no revolution, no mention of changing the rules of the game.
Is this because these brands attempt to grow themselves at a truly global scale and do not wish to exclude anyone by employing a bold and uncompromising approach? Or is it because we as consumers are wary of big words and no longer require marketing revolutions?
Today’s young people appear to be more interested in finding purpose in their lives than having fun. Wellbeing, fitness and meditation have become the new rock ’n’ roll. Gone are the times when brands, regardless of whether they represented snacks, soft drinks, telcos or the media were mostly about fun, hedonism and living life to the fullest. Nowadays, Smirnoff is about inclusivity, Burger King about being yourself and Sprite about staying true to yourself.
The above three disappearing trends are a symptom of how the world has changed in the past 20 years. It remains to be seen whether these strategies will again become popular in the future or whether they are gone for good.
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Magda Adamska is the founder of BrandStruck.
BrandStruck is the only online database of brand strategy case studies.
This is a tool that is dedicated to brand and marketing professionals, allowing them to better understand the positioning of the world’s most admired brands, the similarities and differences between them and to learn more about certain categories.