2021 Must-Haves

5 Must-Haves for your 2021 Brand Strategy

There’s no denying, nor ifs, ands or buts that 2020 changed us. Our own definitions of balance and purpose in our lives, what finding and fostering human connection looked like, and what our expectations are of those in power – in government, in healthcare and in industry. So, it’s no surprise when it comes to brands that our expectations were remarkably impacted by such change and uncertainty facing the world. There’s quite a lot to learn from the past year – and that goes for marketers as well. When it comes to how we define and position our brands, there are vital components that must be addressed as we look to strengthen and evolve our brands for continued success in 2021.

Must-Have #1 – Brands must walk the walk.

According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, 70% of consumers say trusting a brand is more important than it was a year ago. Trust is now second only to price when it comes to earning a customer’s purchase and loyalty. In order for brands to build true loyalty, customers are looking for a shared purpose in order to join forces – a place where they’re called to action around a shared mission and vision.

Consumers are looking for brands and organizations to not only solve their problems, but society’s at large too. They believe brands should enrich and enhance their lives, with 62% of Americans thinking brands play a critical role in addressing challenges we all face.

Must-Have #2 – Personalization is more than demographic drop-ins.

One size no longer fits all, with personalization no longer a novelty but a customer expectation. 76% of consumers surveyed by Salesforce expressed they expect brands to understand their needs and expectations, with 84% saying that they want to be treated like a person – not a number.

Creating personalized communication for your customers requires more than just proving you know who they are through simple mail merge tricks. Customers want you to prove you know how to help them – reassure them, make life easier for them, teach them something new or even reward them.

In a Gartner Personalization Panel, brands that personalized their message in a way that “Helped Customers” showed a 16% increase in the commercial benefit index (brand intent, purchase, repurchase, increased cart size) versus a decrease of 4% in commercial benefit index for brands that simply “proved they knew their customers.”

Must-Have #3 – True brand value comes from real deal benefits.

When it comes to customers defining a brand’s value, it goes far beyond the transactional. Value is no longer simply about price and repeated transaction. No, customers want immediacy, intimacy and intensity. They’re looking for brands that can deliver in-the-moment gratification, embrace the human element and praise passion as well as persistence.

For example, Sephora’s Beauty Insider program provides value to their customers by checking all of the boxes of immediacy, intimacy and intensity.

Their benefits include:

  • Spontaneous, surprise makeover offers
  • Beauty classes
  • Redeemable points for faster shipping
  • Exclusive events access
  • Early access to new products
  • Meetings with brand founders
  • Exclusive trips

Must-Have #4 – Brand experience is paramount.

For brands to drive trust, consumers want to see brands in action. In fact, we see that trusted brands live at the intersection of individual and societal words and actions. It’s no surprise that earned media has a far greater impact on trust than paid media. Here are the top three brand experiences that lead to gained trust:

  • Personal Experience – Direct interaction with product/services
  • Earned Media – News media, news segment/documentary
  • Peer Conversation – Conversation in person or on social media

Must-Have #5 – Brands must enable connection.

Despite a world where each and every one of us generates 1.7MB of data every second and our phones provide answers to any question our fingertips can think of – people still trust people. Consumers are far more willing to put their faith and trust in other people – even if they’re strangers on the internet. The opportunity for brands is to help foster this connection is huge and not to be underestimated.

Among the digital world we’re all confined to, here are three great ways for brands to help foster community:

  • Private Facebook Groups – Facebook has encouraged these groups for a while, but as the pandemic forced consumers to a new work from home reality and virtual conferencing became a way of life, Facebook Groups checked a number of boxes for ease of connection and communication.
  • Virtual Events, Chats and Networking – Webinars, live chats, interactive livestreams and networking events are all easy options for getting viewers to share comments and reactions in real-time.
  • Influencer Marketing – In 2020, influencer marketing saw a 57% increase in influencer impact. Consumers are more than open to listening to credible voices with a connection to your brand.

Despite a year of uncertainty and change, 2020 has taught us valuable lessons to help evolve our brand strategies for the better. At Unbound, we bring over 100 years of brand strategy experience, and our team is ready, willing and able to serve as marketing sherpas to help guide your brand through these uncertain times. We provide the valuable outside perspective your brand needs to direct you to unseen opportunities, then help take advantage of them.

Let’s set up 30 minutes to discuss what 2021 could hold for you. Change is only good if you know how to seize its opportunities. Give us a call at 816.589.3333.

Sources: 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, Kantar Member & Loyalty Study, Gartner Consumer Personalization Panel, 2021 State of Influencer Marketing – Klear Research