In 15 years of brand consultancy, I have had enough time to hoard a large bag of frustrations and another one of satisfactions. When I look inside each, some daydreaming about the future of branding is inevitable. Here are some insights, by 2050 I think…
Branding will be instant
Brand associations will form and unravel much faster. People’s opinions, much like the things around them, will change more often and brands will not only be polymorphous, but also very fickle. Brand management will be more agile, with shorter-span planning. Smart companies will give first-line executives greater freedom to decide and these first-liners will be half-consumers, half-brand managers. They will measure performance indicators and adjust client relationships in real time.
Branding will be integrated
In the consumers’ minds, products will no longer be separated from the companies that manufacture or offer them. The companies’ behaviour will be so closely scrutinized that clients will instantly vote with their wallets after any misstep, real or perceived. The boundary between products and services will also blur significantly.
Branding will be subtle
Brands will push buttons in our minds we won’t even know we have, adding completely new persuasion means to the good ol’ repeated exposures and endorsements. Branding will be a true reality distortion field not only in B2C relationships, but also in B2B ones. Therefore, the places and moments when we are completely outside the influence of brands will be more strictly regulated.
Branding will be more consumer-led
Crowdsourcing will become more precise and easier to use, and therefore more popular. Besides, brands will monitor trendsetters much more closely and will influence them more subtly. Billboards will know you for a trendsetter if you pass them by and will not bribe you to put in a good word for them on your blog. Instead, they will forget about everyone else and focus just on you, giving you all the information you need to do it… by your own will.
Branding will no longer be called branding
On a historic scale, the trade’s terminology is constantly evolving and fashionable labels grow tired at some point. We will call this discipline by a different name, giving up the pretty barbaric branding. Not only is the word rather unpleasant to hear, but it is also a term linked to animal mistreatment, performed for the sole, selfish purpose of marking property. Branding terminology and concepts will diverge into two subspecies: a practical one, pragmatic to the edge of morality and focused on economic results, and an academic one, idealist and focused to bring the world back into balance.
Branding will no longer be obsessed with technology
That won’t be because technology will disappear, but because it will become so mainstream and integrated into everything (think soap or wrapping paper) that it will be the default choice for any communication or relationship. When any surface is able to serve as a touchscreen and when sound, smell and tactile sensations are instantly and widely received and transmitted, branding will ”forget” about technology. Like one visionary used to say, it will be internalized enough and advanced enough for us not to be able to distinguish it from magic. And virtual reality will strongly compete with the physical one, at a time where direct face-to-face contacts will become a luxury.
Branding will mean ever more intellectual property
Patents, copyrights, trademarks and certainly new types of intellectual property will protect the brands’ uniqueness. Marketers will claim rights on ever more brand associations. And the protection of this property will be automated, so that whoever attempts to infringe on them is duly warned in advance. That doesn’t mean counterfeiters and pirates will disappear – they too will evolve to deal with an ever stronger guardianship of intellectual property.
Branding will do more and talk less
Brand behaviour will count more than brand communication. Brand gestures will eclipse brand discourses. The people and places brands frequent when no one sees them will prevail against staged photography. Attention invested in an object or a relationship will be paramount to people.