Trend Reports Are Like The Siren’s Call. Use Your Brand to Safely Navigate the Reefs

The season for trend reports is approaching the horizon. Soon, PDFs, infographics and PowerPoints will flood your inbox, social feeds and news media, preaching the ‘next big thing’. And it’s tempting. It’s shiny new revelations which will burn through the blogosphere like wildfire.

To some degree, trends are helpful. But if they mesmerise you and your brand, they become dangerous. Keep clear of the allure. Stay true to your brand.

Know Thyself, Thy Brand and Thy Trend Report

Trends are movements in the category, culture, or among consumers. Micro or macro, you’ll often find them on social media, advertising, fashion, food–everything culture-related, really.

Some trends present opportunities, while others could potentially harm your brand and cost you money. As a CMO or Brand Manager, it is your job to know how to navigate the market. You are the captain of the ship. You represent the voice of the organisation and the brand in the market.

Remember, trends come and go. Those who write trend reports are often sensation-seeking and want to stir up a mood, so they sometimes prefer to highlight budding new trends rather than dominant ones. You must be aware of this and act accordingly.

Keep Calm And Carry On

Ask yourself these five questions before reacting to a trend for your consumer brand:

Do the research: Has this trend been thoroughly researched using various sources, methods, and tools? How does it compare to other trends or best practices in consumer branding?

Think long-term: Does this trend align with your brand’s values, purpose, and target audience? Have you tested how it could impact your brand reputation, loyalty, and potential outcomes?

Be honest: Are you biased towards this trend for personal reasons? Is there pressure from stakeholders to adopt this trend without a comprehensive assessment of relevance?

Push back: Have we asked hard questions, found counterarguments, or sought alternatives? Have we considered ways to adapt or innovate based on this trend, adding, modifying, or removing elements?

Get a fresh perspective: Have we sought feedback and input from various experts, colleagues, and customers? Have they provided varying views, opinions, or suggestions about the trend, pointing out potential pitfalls or areas of improvement?

Trends Should Inspire, Not Dictate

No matter the trend, you should never copy-paste. Don’t follow a trend merely to be top of consumers’ minds or because you’re not quite sure what you stand for. It’s not sustainable long-term and can quickly weaken your brand. The points you do gain will hit you like a karma boomerang, and you’ll be worse off than before.

Take the time to consider how your brand could benefit from this trend and give it your spin. That way, you ensure that the trend is serving your brand, not the other way around.