Whether we’re talking fashion, hairstyles – or yes, even marketing – the temptation to be trendy is strong. Sometimes even the best of us fall victim to even the worst of trends (track suits, anyone?).
In the marketing world, knowing when to pay attention to the latest trends can be the difference between a successful brand and one that is confusing and lacking a strong identity. If an agency is talking to you about trends, sit up and pay attention. Their stance on this particular point could be the telltale sign of marketers you want to work with, and those you don’t.
Let me explain.
Anyone who claims to be a marketing expert will keep tabs on the latest marketing trends – but that doesn’t mean they will (or should) steer you in that direction. Some trends will fit your company’s image and overall goals perfectly. Others will only serve to dilute your message, muddle your identity and require way more upkeep than you had bargained for (like that perm I got in my 20s).
Have you ever seen one of those style makeover shows? The experts usually agree on this timeless style principle – you can incorporate trendy pieces into your wardrobe, but keep your overall signature look strong with classic pieces that never grow outdated. And when we are speaking about trends, this translates surprisingly well into the world of marketing.
To continue this example, I’m going to look specifically at the difference between trends in logos and websites – because this is something our clients often ask a lot about.
An easy way to think about this is that your logo is your signature look. It’s that classic piece of your company wardrobe that immediately tells consumers what you are all about. Your website then represents the trendy pieces of your wardrobe – where the flash and color and fun can happen. It’s where you showcase the fact that your company is on top of the latest technology and ready to serve your customer base.
Many of our clients first come to us having been told they need to update their logo to improve their brand and stay current with the latest trends. And while there are times that an updated logo is actually needed, in most cases that won’t solve your brand troubles. A strong logo gives people a sense of what you do and who you do it for. Obviously, a single image can’t say it all. But in subtle and even subconscious ways, it can say a lot. Brand identity is about perception – how your customers perceive you. A strong presentation leads to a strong perception.
Websites, on the other hand, can follow emerging trends without the risk of confusing your brand. Although your company website may need to be developed – and have content created – in line with your company’s brand, this is the part of your company identity where being trendy pays off most.
Every year brings new web design elements and new user preferences. There are trends that online consumers get used to and expect to find. This could be anything from mobile-responsiveness, to better storytelling about your brand across multiple forms of media, to new intuitive navigation trends that guide users through a smooth online experience and are backed by research. Implementing such trends that are evolving with consumer behaviors is smart. Implementing new trendy design techniques that do not fit with your overall brand and messaging is not.
Bottom line… all visual branding and messaging should be in line with your company. Logo and web design are both a big part of that. A good agency, mindful of modern trends, will focus more on your unique company, brand, message and target audience. They won’t push trends just because they are the hip thing to do at the moment. They understand that trends are nothing more than additional tools in the marketing toolbox – and will always work to pick the right ones for the job. There is a reason that shiny, foiled M.C. Hammer pants went out of style.