The new buzzword among CEOs, entrepreneurs and ecologists is the idea of resilience: building the values, systems and behaviors within businesses and brands to cope with uncertainty and constant, disruptive change.
From data breaches and hacked emails to information abundance and lightspeed digital evolution, uncertainty abounds.
CMOs are at the center of these dynamics, balancing the complexities of brand reputation, consumer trust, instantaneous social media critiques, hyper-customization and, of course, business sales and growth.
So, as we look to 2015, how can CMOs leverage these dynamics for competitive advantage and create enduring brands that deliver more value for consumers, employees, shareholders and society?
We believe the answer lies in delivering on the unique combination of brand relevance and resilience.
As a new generation of Aspirational consumers seeks brands that stand for something bigger than product benefits, and how products are sourced and made becomes an essential part of the brand story, CMOs will be challenged to think more creatively, purposefully and holistically to thrive.
Here are five trends that will move to center stage in 2015. CMOs that anticipate them will win. Those who don’t may be left behind.
In 2015, the apparent tension between personal identity and community engagement will fade as branders and marketers find new ways reflect the more dimensional truth: We join communities not to conform, but to reveal ourselves. Brands such as Airbnb and Android illustrate that the most enduring brands will inspire microtribes born from broadly shared beliefs and aspirations, yet expressed in unique ways that reveal our truest selves.
As Doug Atkin, the author and global head of community at Airbnb, says, the paradox is that we feel most like ourselves when we’re part of a group. “The common belief is that people join cults to conform,” Atkin writes. “Actually, the very opposite is true. They join to become more individual.”
It’s no secret that consumers now expect products to work smarter, last longer and create more value over time. Brands that endure will design holistically for the entire life cycle of their products, providing opportunities for brand differentiation, storytelling and engagement at every step.
With a slate of take-back programs and upcycled products, brands such as H&M, Eileen Fisher, Origins and Aveda are all using products’ end-of-life to create new shopping occasions and forge deeper relationships with their customers over time.
Pop star and Ekocycle founder will.i.am is creating a sustainable fashion movement using upcycled materials because “good things never have to end.”
In 2015, consumers will expect an intelligent, digitally connected ecosystem of brand experiences designed around their unique needs and desires. As radical personalization shapes the Internet of Things, brands will discover a variety of extended touchpoints in cars, homes, workplaces and communities with new opportunities for engagement and delight.
Recent success stories such as Nest, Disney MagicBands and Spotify’s new partnership with Uber are placing brands at the center of a seamless life and irrevocably putting consumers in control.
Indeed, the Thread Group is uniting Samsung, Silicon Labs, Freescale and others to design a future that is simple, seamless and secure across every device in our homes.
The ubiquity of social sharing along with increasing concerns about privacy has inspired a backlash, where consumers are seeking to protect their personal data, enjoy more authentic conversation, and explore new ways to share their most important experiences — often anonymously.
In 2015, we’ll experience the rise of whispering, where we curate connections with our most trusted friends and share truly honest conversations via closed social networks. From invite-only networks Ello and MeWe to sharing platforms such as Secret and Whispero, consumers are taking control, revealing more and deciding when and how to let others in.
By whispering, brands can create opportunities for consumers to connect with people they trust and share what really matters. It’s all about meaningful connections, as the founders of Secret explain: “The goal is not to build only an app, but a platform that will bring more authenticity, self-awareness and empathy to the world.”
The Girl Effect
The trend toward more empowering messages and experiences for women and girls will grow in 2015, moving beyond beauty, apparel and personal care to redefine product benefits and brand purpose in categories from travel to finance to media and sports.
From Always’ “Like a Girl” campaign to UnderAmour’s “I will what I want” brand ambassadors program, brands are celebrating our strength, confidence and authenticity as well as our empathy and compassion to shape new cultural norms, beliefs and behaviors.
Consumers are seeking brands that are more human and give us a platform to embody our best selves, as, Heidi Sandreuter, VP of women's marketing at UnderArmour, says: “We want to celebrate women living their lives on their own terms."
In the end, CMOs will win in 2015 by creating brands that prize authenticity, build deeper relationships, empower seamless experiences, connect us to trusted networks and treat us all — men and women — like humans.
By doing so, we can lead in this age of uncertainty and change and build brands of relevance and resilience that are designed to endure for generations.