Why being on-trend isn’t always best practice for your brand

In a complex and overcrowded market, you are bombarded by trend watchers, blogs and social media posts all telling you how you should be jumping on the latest ‘trend’. The real challenge however, is for emerging businesses to locate their true brand identity.

The problem with always following social media trends is that it will only lead you one place: behind the leaders which is not best practise for your brand in the long run. In order to relinquish your role as a ‘follower’ and instead capture your audience through your unique brand identity, you need to absorb the words of brand-building expert Denise Lee Yohn:

“If you want to build a great brand, stop following trends.”

Building your own brand is worth the effort

 It’s easier said than done – after all, if every business owner knew how to brand themselves as a leader, the market would look very different. But it’s worth the blood, sweat and tears it takes to forge your own path and cast off the shackles of the ‘trend-follower’.

Common mistake #1:Trend following is easy. It’s fast, it’s simple and for many people it’s effective – at least for the ones who get in before it’s no longer on-trend. But as Yohn writes in Forbes, it “usually causes a brand to stray from its own identity”.

Common mistake #2:Forgetting innovation. No matter what the industry, businesses need to continuously innovate in order to stay ahead of the pack. When you simply follow trends and jump on every new bandwagon that appears, sure you might gain a bit of attention and earn some short-term revenue – but you’ll lose the ambition to go further, do more and try new things, which are essential to crafting your true brand identity.

Forgo short-term on-trend wins for long-term market presence

These mistakes are easy to make, but you can overcome them by recognising the need to stay the course. The real problem arises when you get into a cycle of following trends.

Over the course of several weeks, months and even years of attaching yourself to trends, you’ll start to lose the sense of your own brand identity. And if you’re not careful, that can lead to your business no longer having a unique selling point, and therefore losing its competitive element in the market.

As a write-up in TwoGather succinctly puts it: “Trends are mere tools, but not the key to success.” Rely too much on the short-term benefits of trend following – instead of crafting a strategy for long-term success built on your own unique offering – and the repercussions could be dire, potentially resulting in the demise of your business.

You can still leverage current trends – in moderation

 But it’s not all doom and gloom. You can still follow trends – and even use them to your advantage – without stripping your brand of its identity. The trick is to adopt them in moderation, and to be conscious not to stray too far from what makes you you.

There’s a reason people follow brands. Some are current customers, others have friends who are major fans of the brand. But in a study conducted by getSatisfaction, two reasons stand out above all others:

  • People follow brands because of special offers or deals:5% on Twitter; 36.9% on Facebook.
  • People follow brands because of interesting or entertaining content:7% on Twitter; 18.2% on Facebook.

These two factors make up a massive share of the reason behind people following brands, and central to both are current social media trends. So, there’s definitely a time and a place to leverage them. The key is finding that perfect moment, and not doing it so often that you lose your identity in the process.

The power of the egg

 No doubt everyone is familiar with the mass hysteria around Instagram’s @world_record_egg. Smashing the record for most-liked online post on any social media platform in history, the meme blew up in a matter of days.

In the world of social media, savvy businesses understand that trends fizzle as quickly as they explode, which is how IKEA Saudi Arabia managed to leverage the Instagram egg trend to market its two-pack egg holder set. Not overly salesy – just a fun play on the remarkable rise of the egg with a nod to the ‘fun’ factor.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by IKEA Saudi – ايكيا السعودية 🇸🇦 (@ikeasaudiarabia) on

Note how the page hasn’t touched the Instagram egg subject since? They got in and out without driving the fun into the ground.

Top tips for developing your brand identity

Ready for some hard-and-fast tips to embracing your true brand identity?

    • Start at the beginning: From the outset, you should have a clear vision for your business and what sets it apart. Build your brand around that vision rather than trying to pick and choose your ‘identity’ from fleeting trends.
    • Find your voice: Your customers want to engage with a human, so integrate personality into your offering – whether that’s your product or service, or how you communicate with people online.
    • Listen:Feedback is the best indicator of whether or not you’re on the right track. Use it to guide you along your growth path.
    • The best brands are consistent: Leaders understand not everything they do will be perfect, nor will it resonate with everyone at all times. But what’s most compelling about the top brands is how they are consistent no matter what. They commit to the brand they’ve worked so hard to build – but they also understand it’s okay to rebrand. In all things business related, you should gain an understanding of the market before setting yourself on a specific path. Yes, it’s okay to jump on trends, it’s okay to forge your own path and, it’s okay to change directions if what you’re doing isn’t working. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to domination – you need to discover your identity for yourself.

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