The last two years have ushered in a whirlwind of change in small and large businesses alike. A massive shift toward a completely remote work-world and economy has transformed the business and employment landscapes in 2021. Yet some design habits die hard, and there were interesting patterns in the way brands tried to meet changing customer needs.
2022 will mean a continuation of the virtual landscape that was further developed in 2021, and will call brands to the task of providing security and calmness amid a chaotic news and government policy cycle. The trending brands that we think will be successful into 2022 are the ones that convey brand values, character, and level of professionalism through effective and relevant content and design.
Here are some of the trends we noticed that we think are likely to continue:
Trend #1: Connecting Brand with Face and Personality
Businesses did a great job of examining their own brand interactions in 2021 to provide greater transparency of their leadership team and to optimize the user experience. Many brands realized the value of investing in social media platforms as part of their media marketing efforts, because of the value in building relationships with potential customers. Social media marketing and organic content created by leadership and marketing teams made it possible for people to build trust with the brands they were interacting with, often by including faces connected to the brand.
Social media platforms became a great way to allow the personal connections between potential customers and the people that help create the brands they love. Entrepreneurs recognized the value of facial recognition in building brand awareness and establishing trust with the market when consumers needed it most.
Establishing trust and community with brands is more important to the modern consumer than ever before. Online shoppers and content consumers want to know that they choose credible, reliable, trustworthy, and responsible brands. While social platforms gave business owners a great way to do that, many brands also used images of brand representatives' (aka influencers) faces in their packaging and digital marketing materials.
Brands recognized the communicative value of facial recognition in association with a brand or product. Putting your face and name with your brand means you're willing to vouch and potentially be held accountable for the credibility and integrity of your brand, a future trend we expect to continue in business' trust-building journey through the virtual economy.
Trend #2: Simplification and Element Reduction
In 2021, it appears that brands looking to modernize their logos answered the question: what can be taken away from this logo while still maintaining recognizability?
In 2022, that trend will continue, especially among older businesses who want to set themselves up for the younger generations and eco-friendliness, and new businesses looking to meet the modern standard. So why is this happening?
One of the key influencing factors is the crowded marketplace! With so many logos and company names proliferating in the past decade, being able to trademark as simple a shape as possible is like capturing an atom of the marketing world.
Of course, It will always be the priority of smart brands to make brand adjustments for 5-10 years from now, not just for today. So as time goes by and more companies enter the industry as competitors, the “go simple” brand angle will be covered and difficult to compete with. New competitors will have to meet on an even playing field or attempt to go maximal - an angle that has severely lost popularity since the 90’s.
Trend #3: Muted Colors and Soothing Brands
Businesses appealed to something fundamentally human in the consumer pool in 2021 by responding to their emotional needs through color and design. Websites like Headspace personified their brand values and goals through creative choices for their webpage and other platforms.
Clean lines, simple text, and soothing colors give the user a very relaxing online experience with the brand. They take it a step further by offering accessible, relevant content for the online browser through their extensive blog of related topics. They are selling the meditative experience, and they use color schemes and design elements to promote a similar type of experience with their brand.
Trend #4: Brands with Purpose
Now more than ever, consumers want to see the social and environmental responsibility of the brands they choose to interact with, at a minimum. They want to see diversification and inclusion within the entrepreneurial pool, and they want to see brands that care about causes of all kinds. In short, they want brand values that match their own, and they want to see you act on those values.
This trend has actually been ongoing since long before 2021 and continues to gain legs as activism does throughout the United States and the world. For example, the amount of corporate money donated rose 8% from 2016 to 2017.
Building a brand with a purpose or rebranding as a values-driven member of your community helps business leaders connect with the consumers they serve. It also helps contribute to the consumer need for active participation in reshaping today's social, economic, and natural landscapes. This is especially important for businesses that want to appeal to Generation Z customers, who have gained a reputation as a generation that will demand change, justice, and equity.
Give your brand a recognizable purpose by investing time, money, or resources into a cause you care about, which also relates to your business somehow. For example, Sakara is a meal program company that donates to the hungry.
Conversational marketing and social platforms are also helpful for connecting your target audience with brand values and initiatives that speak to them. For Gen Z, short-form video content, specifically on social media platforms, has been most engaging. Video content also allows the potential customer to build brand awareness through the facial recognition mentioned above.
Trend #5: Virtual Communities & Events
2021's consumer base looked to business leaders to help steer the direction of our world when things were less certain. Consumers continue to look toward businesses as community builders, partly because they were some of the most prominent decision-makers during the early days of the pandemic and not all by choice.
Virtual communities and events are one step up from building a connection with the consumer toward helping them build connections with one another. Content creators can facilitate virtual community building by uniting information seekers under the same umbrella of virtual solutions. Creating authentic, relevant content on all of your digital platforms can help engage your audience, solve a problem for them, create a positive brand experience, and connect them with others who have similar interests or challenges.
Consumer behavior indicated in 2021 that virtual group events were practical tools for building brand awareness, increasing revenue and product interest, and meeting the consumer's emotional needs. While disconnected from their daily work environments, friend groups, and interactive routine, platforms like Fortnite were using events and online communities as marketing hubs. Through collaboration with other brands and media, Fortnite created live concerts within the game and even premiered movie trailers there.
Community and group identity helps people build trust, and associating those with a brand can build brand credibility. How will your business become a creative community builder in 2022?
What are some other ways businesses can convey brand purpose?
Convey brand purpose by offering transparency in your goals, services, products used, and behavior within the community. If your brand values an eco-conscious mindset, support those values by educating the community about the importance of limiting chemical use and using only FDA-approved products for your business. Use packaging materials that are recyclable and easy to do so, look for biodegradable physical marketing materials, and encourage paper-free transactions by making your website accessible. Ultimately, your brand values should reflect in each of the decisions you make as a business leader.
What types of creative elements and design choices deter traffic from a webpage?
Websites that are too busy, too "loud," or don't meet the need that drew the traffic to them are a deterrent to buying. Think about what makes you most likely to click "buy" during an online transaction. Web design should be simple, well-organized, accessible, and promote a stress-free experience for the user.
What are other ways a brand can build community?
Brands can help to build community through smart insights about key trends in their online consumer base. Recognizing commonalities among your customers and potential customers can help you facilitate connections.
For example, you might offer a premium web experience for homeowners willing to invest in expert advice via seminars, live social media events, or other community-building events. This is especially true if you notice common home renovation queries that bring traffic to your hardwood flooring page. They might want to understand what other new homeowners are thinking and experiencing before making their next significant investment.
You can also build communities through events that support causes that match your brand values. For example, fundraising for the SPCA through a live event might help build a community around a pet sitting and dog walking service.