Across almost all aspects of business, the pace of innovation and evolution is continuing to gather considerable momentum. From design and development to sales processes, the integration of technology is helping to reduce long-term commercial costs and redefine the typical customer experience.

It is the concept of branding that has changed most notably in the last five years, however, as techniques and best practice evolves to meet the demands of a constantly changing world. As a result of this, there are a number of prominent trends in the world of branding and a handful of trail-blazing firms that continue to capitalise on these.

3 Core Branding Trends and Examples

So, let’s take a look at three core branding trends for 2015 and consider the examples that are being set by leading businesses: –

The Increasing Importance of Communication Design

Communication design is an increasingly important aspect of marketing, as it is a mixed discipline that is concerned with using print, electronic mediums and alternative media channels to interact with and engage customers directly. It is also a discipline that is well-recognised by brands and industry experts alike, as forward thinking agents look to create new media channels through which they can engage customers while also developing consistent messaging across all products, advertising and customer service outlets.

These trends were reflected in last years’ Automotive Brand Contest, which was initially created to reward excellence and consistency in product and communication design. Premium motorhome brand Niesmann and Bischoff earned particular acclaim for their Arto model, which featured a luxury and aesthetically pleasing design within a minutely co-ordinated setting. Not only did the design and style of the model effectively communicate the core pillars of the brand, but it was also aligned seamlessly with associated print materials and online marketing campaigns.

Ford is another automotive company that has maintained a consistent and seamless brand identity, even as it has developed new products and looked to market itself across a wider range of integrated social channels. From a simple, one-syllable name to an instantly recognisable and iconic logo, Ford has managed to strategically align its brand, product strategy and execution even as the world around it has changed so dramatically. A progressive approach to communication design has proved central to this, as it ensures that both product and messaging reflect the same core values and appeal to a targeted consumer base.

This is something for you to keep in mind in 2015, as the rising importance of communication design makes it more important than ever that you take the time to identify your core brand values and market these consistently through your products, marketing and all media channels.

The Beginning of the End for Bricks and Mortar Retail

In truth, the decline in bricks and mortar retail began with the emergence of e-commerce at the turn of the century. While these two entities have managed to co-exist comfortably during the last decade, significant growth in global e-commerce sales suggests that this year will finally see the widespread closure of physical stores around the world. This is due to changing consumer behavior,  as the typical customer now uses five or more online channels to research and execute purchase decisions. As a result, the power of social media interaction and branded websites can be combined to help reduce costs and drive sales.

One brand to successfully recognise this is Indian company Future Group, which just happens to operate in one of the most aggressive and competitive e-commerce markets in the world. This company, which has a portfolio of over 40 independent fashion brands, has agreed to retail all associated products exclusively through Amazon’s online platform. This underlines the power of e-commerce in the modern age, and this trend is likely to encourage a growing number of brands to move their retail operation exclusively online.

This followed a trend initially set nearly a decade earlier, when electronic giants Dixons first left the UK high street after more than 70 years. Another brand to make a similar move was catalogue outlet Littlewoods, which now has a sparse physical presence that is restricted to region outlet stores. It is continuing to thrive as an online brand, however, having merged with former competitor Keys Catalogues to deliver a high-end virtual service to customers and successful exploit the strengths of both partners.

If your brand is to capitalise on this trend, it is important that you are able to deliver a high performance digital service and make a seamless transition from bricks and mortar retailing. Consumers expect a simple and interactive online shopping experience, and one that successfully integrates RFID and responsive touchscreen technology.

If your brand is not a position to immediately deliver this, consider partnering with an established e-commerce platform such as Amazon or EBay. This will enable you to tap into existing technological expertise and a huge target market, in exchange for a fixed and relatively small percentage of any revenue that is generated. You could even follow the example set by Littlewoods, and partner with a competing firm that has an existing online infrastructure.

We will see a Rise in Category-specific Emotional Values

Emotional branding is nothing new, although it has been elevated onto an entirely new level since the advent of social media. It is set to be refined further in 2015, however, with successful companies being forced to identify emotional values within their specific market and use these as the basis for any subsequent messaging and marketing propositions. Authentic narration and believable storytelling is a key aspect of this, as this forges an emotional connection with each individual audience member rather than attempting to overtly influence a wider target market through generic messaging.

Brands can also use these market-specific emotional values to meet the demands of informed and knowledgeable consumers. An example of this is provided by Samsung’s commercial for the Galaxy S4, which manages to achieve the ideal balance between striking an emotional chord with customer and remaining true to its core values.

More specifically, the advert focuses primarily on the expectations of customers, including the demand for a clean, stylish and easy to use product. Samsung uses simple visual imagery and messaging to achieve this, eliminating the need to influence the customer directly through promotional copy. The brand also combines emotive music and family-orientated imagery to leverage category-specific emotional values, enabling the customer to easily understand the benefits of Samsung’s product while being encouraged to interact through subtle emotional pulls.

Today’s consumers expect to see coordinated audio and visual messaging, as this effectively communicates core brand values while also conveying emotion and a sense of objectivity. As a brand owner, you must also look to identify emotional values that strike a chord with your targeted consumer base, and look to incorporate these into all social media interaction and customer service output.