What it means to be a healthy, future-forward brand in 2021

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Brands have been working harder

2020 has sparked an acceleration into the future. Business practices and realities that were just coming into fashion are quickly becoming table stakes in the eyes of consumers. 

 

Brands have been working harder than ever to meet growing expectations, but for many, this shuffle to keep up has meant leaping forward in some areas, while falling behind in others—knocking the brand out of alignment. That’s part of what we mean when we say a brand appears “unhealthy.” 

 

A “healthy” brand advances as one unit, holistically. Always keeping an eye on the big picture, even when focused on individual parts. In 2021, brand health is more critical than ever. 

Here are some trends we’ve been extra focused on, partnered with our humble (expert) opinions on how brands should be thinking, focusing, and responding in order to both maintain brand health and advance in meaningful ways as we continue our rapid shift into a more thoughtful, customer-centric future.

Customers are: More digitally inclined and physically aware.

We’re online more (if you can believe it), so we expect more from our online experiences. We’re also more focused on our own physical spaces and the limited world we’ve been able to experience outside. 

Brands should: Think omni-channel (and invest now in the future). 

Brands should absolutely be spending to excel in digital, but thinking about it in a holistic way. As in how your digital experiences fit into the larger brand ecosystem, and also the outside (and inside) world where customers interact with your products or services, as well as culture at large, and this moment in time.

The balance, or health, of your perfectly shaped brand perception is being more scrutinized today than ever.

So, for example, if you invest in a new social strategy, but it doesn’t align with your product packaging and .com experience is stuck in 2009—that’s a friction customers are increasingly confused by and turned off to. They expect a seamless brand experience that flows from one channel to another, and from one moment in their lives to another, beyond the sale or signup.