Leveraging Trends in your Marketing


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about best utilizing trends in marketing efforts, and how they can be used to help position your brand. So let’s get down to it. Welcome to my trendy rant!

A trend is a system of influence/pattern of behaviour that moves in and out of a community like wildfire. I find it quite fascinating to watch how communities on any scale react to trends, and interestingly enough what traces those trends leave behind when they are gone. As well as how behaviour is influenced, especially in arena of social media.

As we live in the era of the brand, personal and professional, social media has given us to tools to acutely position ourselves within our own tribes, and wider communities. I will venture that we have all spent years crafting who we believe ourselves to be (our identity) as well as the person we actively present to others in our tribe/communities (our brand). The same rings true for businesses as well as individuals. All wrapped up in our identity we will find our vision, our mission, who we want to become, who we are currently are and, very importantly, our insecurities (more on this in a future post). How we present this identity to the world is my own personal definition of a brand. It is how we actively present ourselves, and more importantly how we attempt to alter another’s perception of our identity (branding).

Now…to bring the notion of a trend as a marketing tool into the story. Branding/Marketing comes down to influence. We are going out and actively attempting to sway how we are perceived in the world. A trend is probably about the most influential thing you will come across. Very few phenomenons wield as much power as a trend. Subsequently, knowing how to properly utilize trends in your branding can also wield incredible power….if done carefully.

As with all good things in this world, too much will quickly become a bad thing. (I take old adages very seriously!). Associating your brand with a trend can have very beneficial results, but be warned! If you get to close to a trend, or rather, become a trend yourself, you run the risk of becoming obsolete! All trends go the way of the buffalo, Atkins, neon clothing, etc. However, if you are resilient enough, you just might hang in there until you come into retro style, but I, personally, wouldn’t play those numbers.

The art of using trends in your marketing efforts come down to a delicate balancing act. You want to be associated with what’s new, what’s hip, what’s cool, but you also need to have a very finely tuned sense of what I like to call the “trend life cycle”. Basically, you need to identify a new trend early, know when to jump in and know when to get out before the lifecycle reaches its precipice. Once a trend reaches critical mass, the value of associating your brand with that trend is obliterated. It will very quickly start to represent negative value for your brand, and that is a big no-no.

So it comes down to this, use trends to influence your brand, but be sure to keep some distance, this will give you time to react when the value of the trend bottoms out. If you jump in too hard, you might not be able to reposition yourself in time to mitigate the fallout from actively engaging a trend with a negative value. (in laymen’s terms, something “uncool”). Instead of becoming a trend, dance lightly from trend to trend basking in the hipstery glow you will enjoy from each. (The mere fact that I said “hipstery” will paint this blog post in a new light 3 years from now). But in all seriousness, when you are building a brand, there are no shortcuts.

I would hesitate basing your business on a trend. However, there are many business models that can thrive from trend to trend. I would advise against using a trend in a logo, wordmark, or any other long-term investment collateral. Ads, taglines, sure, give’r, but just remember that there will come a time when you have to re-tool. Expect it, plan for it and you will be golden.

Know when to touch a trend, and when to stay away. Some people have an intuitive sense for these things. They may not realize what is going on behind the scenes, but it all comes down to the trend lifecycle and where you find yourself in relation to it.

Short term pain for longterm gain, or short-term gain for longterm pain….take your pick. But if there is one thing I know, you can’t have it both ways.

Success comes from investing the dividends from long terms investments, same goes for your brand.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be at Menchie’s if you need me.

Written by Andrew Bedford