Flared Pantsuits. 1980′S Rocker Hair. Furbies. Planking. The Harlem Shake.
What do all of these things have in common? They were all trends – things we temporarily obsess over and glom onto in hopes of being “hip”. There is serious social pressure to conform to these trends. A magazine I read yesterday tried to convince me I needed shoes with spikes all over (no, thank you), and I constantly feel the wrath from peers over not having an Instagram account.
Although we normally associate trends with personal choice, fads exist in the marketing world as well. Consider trends such as #hashtagsoneverything, artistic depictions of quotes filling up your Pinterest feed, and the fact that the design aesthetic of every major brand is turning flat. Trends are great, don’t get us wrong. They define an era, push the boundaries of what is socially acceptable, and often make for great laughs when reminiscing over old photo albums.
Trends start to create a problem when businesses decide to follow them for the sheer purpose of being cool, or because they feel like it’s the only way to remain relevant to their audience. If you find your business caught between a #hashtag and a hard place, you have to ask yourself, “Am I being authentic?” Or in the case of your business, whether or not your brand being truly reflected by a particular marketing trend. In other words: is this a tool to further your brand, or just a trend?
When a business gets lost in a sea of other brands fighting a losing battle to be “cool”, the story gets lost, homogeneity reigns supreme, and the business’ target audience loses the ability to connect. The only thing that sets you apart is your story. Make sure you are always shouting your unique story from the rooftops, not echoing someone else’s.
Business is, above all, personal. Remaining loyal to customers by being true to company values shows respect not only to your brand, but to the integrity of your clients as well.
It’s like a 1980s coming-of-age movie: trying to be someone you’re not never gets you noticed for the right reasons and always holds a life lesson for the pretender. Only when you are authentically yourself will the people who really matter (your brand’s audience) stand by your side and truly connect with your brand.
No one likes to be taken for a fool. Always represent your brand authentically, and never compromise your values for a trend that doesn’t fit your true purpose.