Last year was a dynamic, unforgettable and a remarkable break from past norms.

From Brexit, US elections, distrust of Mainstream Media, Pokemon mania and the rise of augmented reality sparking a lot of debate on Social Platforms. We can all foresee 2017 standing strong on the side of real authenticity, unfiltered imperfection, individuality and humanity, as well as the growth of non-manufactured resources, so how will this affect trends in branding in the New Year. Your brand story: redefining authenticity We’ve all heard about the importance of creating an authentic story and brand positioning in order for your brand to connect with its audience. However, it seems brands have over-reacted to that particular trend: “There are now, by our rough estimate, 184,597,433,860 references to ‘authenticity’ used to brand products and services”, according to Eric Pinckert at BrandCulture.

In 2017, adding words such as “authentic, authenticity, artisanal and handmade” and so on will no longer have the needful impact and meaning, as well as may appear fake to the consumer.  These words have been used by so many brands to date that Generation Y and Z will no longer believe what is told in the ad about the brand, its heritage, and its authenticity.

In the New Year, it is time for brands to redefine what authentic really means in their story. It may no longer be just about heritage, but rather staying true to oneself. New customers will look for brands that are more honourable, open and transparent, respects the consumer, partnerships, and communities.

Brand’s positioning authenticity is now more focused on the future: leadership and being innovative, standing strong for positive changes in society, ethics, and integrity.

Packaging vs. Product With a great demand for the truth, branding may shift its focus towards product design itself, rather than packaging alone. We can see it especially vivid in the food sector. Elements such as transparent bottles, simple minimum design, natural and easily readable ingredients, being open on manufacturing and overall process involved in production will prevail. An expensive short-lived packaging can still appear attractive to a consumer’s eye, yet may affect a company’s reputation in a not so favourable way in the long run.

Use of natural and recyclable materials, while staying away from plastics, will affect a brand’s direction on ethical decisions for producing durable and green products with minimum packaging design. More than half of young consumer groups are paying attention to durable labels and are willing to pay more for it. New digital native Generation Z, being more cautious on our impact on the planet, can now easily check a company’s processes and whether it’s making empty promises.

Active vs. passive CSR It’s becoming more evident than ever that consumer behaviour of the future is on the path of being green and more conscious: new generation (Generation Y and Z) seem to give more importance to green consumption patterns. More than 75% of GenZ recognize the fact that our world needs protection against the destructive actions and impact we’ve done to date; around 60% are looking to start acting in order to improve the world. This is where your brand can step in to fill that niche and become a part of your consumer’s lives.

This generation will be focusing on brands that have a clear vision of corporate social responsibility, which will highly improve a brand’s reputation as well. However, what will really matter, is not just making a big claim about CSR activity, but organizing real concrete actions instead. GenZ is more proactive than ever, and value actions over words: almost 1 out 4 of GenZ are already actively volunteering and supporting various good causes today.

The more your brand has integrated corporate social responsibility in its company culture and communicated it clear and well, the more new generation of consumers will be inclined to choose and engage with that brand.

Internal Branding: Is your company ready for a new wave of the workforce? We’ve been so focused on Millennial’s that it seems that we have totally missed out on the new kids coming to town. Born after 1996, Generation Z is about to enter the global workforce and possess a much more individualistic and realistic approach to life. With “everyone wins attitude” of Generation Y, GenZ will collide with its realistic approach that you need to become the best at something to become a winner.

Business’ will need to re-look at their organisational structure to become more flexible to fit the individualized needs of this new generation. The independence of this group is remarkably high: around 42% of GenZ are planning to start their own business and more than half are getting their internships and preparing for professional life during high school. Brands with an open environment that welcomes questions, provide career advice and feedback at all times will attract the best young talent in the market. This new workforce wave will be looking for mentors, rather than just managers, who value their creativity and insights, as well as open to learning from the employee as well.  More than 90% of GenZ are looking for a job where they can be themselves, which may push employers to look at offering a more flexible working hours structure and loosen up the dress code policy.

2017 is promising to be a great and inspiriting ride for many branding and graphic design agencies, and we are looking forward to new innovations it brings us. Companies should be welcoming changes and being ready to adapt their brand accordingly to survive the dynamic landscape of the modern market.

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