What are the brand trends around us?

Just as NY’s Fashion Week wrapped up, I was inspired to pen a blog about the macro-level brand trends I’m seeing – in no particular order. Nothing scientific here, folks. Just some observations from being a brand student – and being the dork that loves a good ad. What are your thoughts to add?

Be careful: like fashion trends, if these don’t ring authentic to you or what you actually deliver, don’t just try to slap a coat of brand paint on top of yourself to stay trendy. We all went to high school and that never works, no matter how many times you’ve seen She’s All That.  Customers will catch on pretty quickly. But see if there are any hooks you can grab onto that you may not have thought to tout about your products or services.


  1. Sensible vs. spontaneous: Thoughtful and prudent seems to be the new black, unless you are Camp Vegas. Coming out of the bubble with a raging hangover into the recession, more companies are focused on taking things slow, playing it safe, and doing things with good ole’ fashioned customer service and personal interactions. Popular with financial services companies and banks (and you can understand why, as they do penance for the crash) this also spills over into food brands that get back to basic, natural ingredients and clothing that is built to last.
  2. Responsible vs. green: Maybe this is semantics, but I’m seeing more focus on responsible business practices over truly green products and brands. Hyundai touting that they give back to cancer, Bill Gates convincing multi-billionaire friends to leave money to charity, customers focused more on company ethics than company recycling. Again, possibly due to the recession and what we went through with corporate greed, but it’s not enough (or easy, according to Kermit) to be green: You need to be honest, straightforward, good to the community and treat your employees right, too.
  3. Experienced vs trendy: Another recession hangover. I’m seeing more companies tout how long they’ve been around, how many customers they serve, etc than if they are “hot” right now. It’s like the Internet bust all over again, with companies trying to distance themselves from dot-coms. There seems to be a big “throwback” theme trying to harken back to a simpler time…..like 1995.
  4. Value vs. luxury: It’s not about high-end extravagance – and that seems to be a bit of a dirty phrase as big corporations cut their expensive boondoggles last year (thus decimating the hotel industry and forcing layoffs there, but that’s another story…) It’s all about how long something will last, how durable it is, how well it will fit your life. Sort of related to #3 in a slightly different flavor. Audi is doing a great job with convincing us that they are a car who has both compared to Mercedes and BMW.
  5. Shoe-shopping fashionistas vs. strong, serious women: Maybe this is a personal observation but Chick-Lit and the Sex and the City Gals seem to have fallen by the wayside. Have you seen the crop of new TV shows starring gun-toting, take-no-crap policewomen, detectives, US marshalls and spies? I just wish they’d bring Alias back.These women have a purpose fighting crime and locking up the bad guys – not just trolling for a Manolo sale. Again, such pragmatism over consumerism seems to be a recurring theme. And while the new female action heroes may still look great, they could crush you with a well-turned twist of their stilettos. Carrie Bradshaw could never do that.

What do you think? What trends are you seeing in branding or advertising? Let me know in the comments.

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