Brand Vanguard



Tips, trends and best practices for 2018 and beyond

In the age of experience, change is a given and nothing lasts forever. New tools and technology consistently emerge, challenging brands to up-their-game in creation and connection. While these tools and tactics will help brands enhance their experiences and everywhereness, brands must have done the vital work of developing an overarching brand strategy to determine which methods align with their brand’s promise and positioning. From our extensive brand work across numerous industries, we’ve developed a roundup of creative ways to cut through the clutter and enrich the brand experience.  

Storytelling is Central

We’ve all heard that content is king, and storytelling is key to communicating what a brand stands for. Many brands use the time-honored tradition of storytelling to communicate brand meaning. With so many brand stories populating every platform, consumers have less and less time to consume all of this content, which means brands have less time to tell their story. Today, imagination and inspiration must be wrapped into a small, digestible package. Top Tip: Be smart, surprising and succinct. 

Charter Bank

Youth: It’s Where It’s At

First it was Millennials. Now it’s Gen Z. Just as brands had their finger on the pulse of the millennial market, now there’s a mad dash to understand the tastes of next upstart generation. Can’t I just younger-tweak my millennial strategy for Gen Z? In short: All kinds of nope. In 2018, brands will continue expending energy and effort wrapping their arms around Gen Z. Top Tip: Be an information sponge. Stay tuned for our Gen X, Y, Z white paper this summer for help navigating across generations.

Culture Creators image

The Rise of Low Tech

Technology is always the latest shiny object. In their zeal to embrace innovation, brands often jump on the tech bandwagon using tools before knowing the long-term impact on the brand. Bots, autochats and scheduled posts allow brands to always be on, which is a good thing, but there is a big downside: you can look like a robot. No one really likes a robot. In 2018, we expect brands to explore ways to be responsive while empowering real people behind a brand. Top Tip: Tech should always enhance your authenticity. 

The Rise in High Tech

While we expect a retraction in automated tech in some areas – specifically social – we are predicting more tech in physical spaces where it matters. Customized – not mass – technology is helping brands curate experiences in physical locations across the country. Whether it’s digital signage or interactive screens, personalized tech in physical spaces is making a shopping experience more gratifying. Top Tip: Customized, personalized tech in physical locations encourages customers to linger longer.

Interactive Screens

Humor Works 

No Dad jokes here.  Whether it’s witty, surprising or sharp, humor is a storytelling device separating the brand wheat from the chaff. Some brands steer clear of humor, because it’s personal and can be polarizing. You either “get it” or you don’t. Brands that embrace humor are trailblazers and risk-takers. Big risk often comes with big reward. When brands use humor, they often remake entire categories, upending what we thought we knew and setting a new standard. Top Tip: Find a vehicle for humor that supports your brand ethos.

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