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How to Keep Your Brand Relevant in a Constantly Evolving Digital Space

keeping brand relevant

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is final.

Why brand relevance is important for your scaling business

Brands that have evolved to stay relevant with the current climate have thrived, and those that have not, are facing the consequences of lost customer loyalty.

Being able to react and pivot the design, messaging and experience of your brand is critical to keep your business afloat and, most importantly, keep your audience engaged and invested in your offer.

In this article, we’ll explore the strategic relevance of branding, and why you should consider your own brand relevance when producing content online.

What is brand relevance?

Learning how to measure brand relevance comes down to assessing the current climate, or culture, and reacting to your audience’s response.

There are 1.8 billion websites online right now, and counting.

Inevitably, this can lead to overwhelm and digital fatigue for your customer, so it’s important to adapt to their fast-changing needs and accessibilities.

You don’t want to be shouting about your “Ultimate Holiday Package” when the country has gone into lockdown.

An example of a brand that evolved to stay relevant: Time Out.

They took note that their audience was unable to ‘go out’ throughout 2020, and reacted with a pivot.
Updating their recognizable logo to Time In and publishing content to reflect the climate their audience was facing kept them relevant while remaining true to their brand direction.

In doing so, they kept their audience engaged rather than alienating a population that could no longer gain from their ‘best places to visit’ style content.

Anticipating what your audience will want and need next comes from knowing who they are.

Forbes noted that tech leader Apple does exactly this, writing that the company “remains arguably the most relevant technology brand by thinking several years ahead and anticipating what consumers will want tomorrow, not today.”

Evolving with your customers and responding to their needs creates loyalty, leaving them feeling heard and understood.

And that’s what you want, isn’t it?

How to keep your brand relevant: Know when to pivot, and when to put on the brakes

A word of caution before we continue.

Not every business will reap the benefits of a mass direction change. Knowing when to react, and what to react to, is as important as the reaction itself. 

Staying relevant doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul of your design or messaging. 

Avoid creating a sense of disconnect by pivoting too often, or too drastically.

Take the following into consideration before making your move:

  • Does this change align with my business values?
  • Will our customers still recognize us?
  • Does this provide value for the customer right now?
  • Are we joining in on a trend that doesn’t make sense for our audience?

Take note of what your audience is telling you through your multiple touchpoints and check in with them on a regular basis. 

  • Are they crying out for support or do they need something to distract them?
  • Are they becoming bored and less engaged? Why?

Use this data to steer your direction and you’ll have a higher chance of successfully staying relevant with your market.

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Can Digital Transformations keep your brand relevant? 

Staying relevant means always appealing to your audience and what they want now. 

And this is actionable internally, too.

Many businesses are looking to digital transformations (integrating smarter technology) to streamline and better their business model.

Summed up in this brilliant quote from George Westerman, author of Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation via CIO; “Digital transformation marks a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to fundamentally change business performance.”

In short: 

  • Analyze your customer’s expectations. 
  • Put digital processes in place to make their experience with you easier. 

What does brand relevance mean for design?

The world of design is constantly changing, but subtle updates can refresh an outdated appearance.

This is where the strategic relevance of branding becomes important

We mentioned above that consumers are being bombarded more than ever with new messaging. If your brand aesthetic has stayed exactly the same for years, the chances are your audience will swipe straight past you on their feed.

Not because they no longer love your brand, but because their brain has moved on.

In an article by Forbes on logo design, writer Gabriel Shaoolian highlights that “its creation will always be informed by the design standards, norms, and trends of the time in which it was created. This means that it will become outdated at some point.”.

But if a redesign is off the card for now, here’s something to consider:

Can you add temporary design elements to your existing logo?

Seasonal graphics or cultural references can create interest by providing something new in a setting your audience is used to seeing.

Google’s logo adaptations are a great example of this. You notice when they reflect a national holiday or historical figure’s birthday, right?

3 things to think about to keep your brand relevant in 2021 and beyond

Think human first.

  • Consider the end-user. How have their needs changed? 

Make sure your Ideal Customer Persona is as specific as it can be and check in with it regularly. Not sure what this should look like? See the next point.

  • Ask your audience. 

Connect with them regularly. Run surveys, polls, ask them for feedback, and use this information to better serve them. Don’t assume their needs, the best way to find out what they are, is to ask.

  • Think about human behaviour.

People respond differently to different designs or experiences. If you want to get deep into this, consider learning some theory behind behavioral psychology. In short, people like it when things are easier for them. Can you enhance your UX or simplify the interactions they have with you?

  • Be inclusive.

Are you respecting multiple voices? Is your brand accessible? Subtitles, alt tags, legible font/color choices, etc. all allow the wider community to engage with your business.

Join the conversation

  • Be present.

Becoming an active voice within your niche positions your business as an expert. It shows that you understand where your audience is, and what they are experiencing, which, again, leads to them feeling heard and understood.

  • Leverage the power of social media.

As with the above point, get social on social. Be generous with your knowledge and be clear on who you’re talking to. Making your brand values clear will allow you to resonate with your customers on a personal level across the multiple touchpoints of your brand.

Push the boundaries and think outside of the box

  • Collaborate in new ways.

Remember when Burger King sent their customers to McDonalds to support their fundraising in Argentina? Yes, it’s an unusual partnership —and not the only one from the food giants—, but consumers saw the humility in two rivals coming together and their efforts went viral. Can you collaborate with the unexpected to get your audience’s attention?

  • Think like a start up.

Be brave and bold and inventive. Try something new! See what others within your niche  —and outside of it— are doing and see how you can add your own unique, innovative twist. Look to the past for patterns and test out ideas.

Now, it’s over to you. 

Which areas will you focus on first, to boost your brand relevance?

Remember: Don’t be tempted to jump on the latest viral trend if it doesn’t follow your brand voice and values.

Keep your brand guide in mind at all times and the needs of your audience number one. 

If you feel like your brand needs a design refresh but don’t know where to start, partner with Design Force today, so you can better serve your customers tomorrow.

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