Key Elements to Developing a Successful Brand Strategy

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What do you predict will become crucial to a successful brand strategy in 2018 as new trends emerge and gain ground?

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Customer Advocacy

You can state over and over in marketing materials that your company is the best, but nothing resonates better with audiences than social proof. Focusing on customer satisfaction and letting their stories drive your brand is a sure-fire way of elevating your reputation and moving your audience to take action with your business. Nothing destroys a brand quicker than a few bad reviews on Google. – Suneera Madhani, Fattmerchant

2. Transparent Narratives

As artificial intelligence and augmented reality will be increasingly commonplace in business development strategies, trust in a brand is crucial. In order to build trust in your brand, in a world of AI, a transparent narrative that communicates on a personal level gives a brand a competitive edge. Additionally, keep your narrative consistent. My brand has diversified, but our narrative has not. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic

3. Developing a Clear Identity

As consumers face the increasingly difficult challenge of cutting the clutter, it will become more important than ever for brands to develop clear and distinct identities. To resonate in an incredibly noisy marketplace, brands must clearly define and establish their best area on the map and utilize focused and targeted messaging to connect with their ideal audience. – Adam Mendler, Beverly Hills Chairs

4. A Visual Content Takeover

Brands can no longer sell themselves with words alone. The average attention span is shorter than ever, so given that visual communication is proven to engage people’s attention for longer, brands need to change their strategy. People connect with visuals 60,000 times faster than text, which means they’re more likely to connect to a brand whose marketing materials are visually powerful. – Amy Balliett, Killer Infographics

5. Creativity

In 2018 it is expected that social media will start penalizing vote baiting, clickbaiting, react baiting and share baiting. This means that many brands will have to look for alternative, more creative ways to engage their audience on social media, and their storytelling skills, tone of voice and overall presence will turn into a critical success factor. – David Henzel, davidhenzel.com

6. Immersive and Personalized Customer Experiences

Customers are growing to expect their interactions with brands to be more and more tailored to them as individuals. As AI technology becomes more integrated into the customer experience and the rise of the chatbots continues, that expectation will only grow. You need to embrace these technologies or risk being left behind. – Erik Bullen, MageMail

7. Micro-Moments and the Ongoing Shift to Mobile

Consumers are increasingly attached to smartphones. Searches on mobile exceed those on computers. Google has coined a new term to describe how consumers behave on their mobile devices: micro-moments. These are instants when consumers want to know where, when, what, why and how on the fly. Brands need to anticipate and utilize micro-moments to drive conversions. Be there, be useful and be quick. –Thomas Smale, FE International

8. Short, Engaging Content on Social Media

Short, engaging content on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat will become crucial to any successful brand strategy in 2018. If companies haven’t started implementing short snippets of engaging content, they’ll be missing out on potential growth. For companies already producing short snippets of content on all three platforms, they’ll be the ones that keep visitors coming back consistently. – Kristin Marquet,Creative Development Agency, LLC

9. Affiliate Programs

As more individuals start up their own YouTube channels and blogs, you will need to give them a reason to talk about your brand. The easiest way to do this is to create a financial incentive for them to mention your product by creating an affiliate program. You don’t need to know how to code to do this, there are already many websites that you can apply to join such as ShareASale and CJ Affiliate. – Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

10. Authentic Human Touch

The reason why live video is becoming popular is because audiences want to see you in person. They don’t just want visuals anymore, they want to be able to interact with you. If you aren’t true to your message people will be able to spot that right away and social media will help ensure it gets around. – Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

11. Associating With Cutting-Edge Developments

Make big moves in emerging technologies and emerging ideas. Brands that are doing “it” first tend to steal the spotlight in media and in their customers’ hearts. Even if you don’t drink Red Bull, you associate the brand with amazing stunts, adventure and extreme sports. Align your brand with the craziest and most cutting-edge developments or events happening in your industry, and you will grow. – Ali Mahvan, Sharebert

12. Avoiding Shiny Object Syndrome

With an endless stream of new software and technologies, the urge to sample different strategies has never been stronger. The key to successful branding is, and has always been, consistency. Find a brand strategy with a proven track record that aligns with your unique skill sets and interests, make a content creation calendar and stick to that no matter what. – Joe Fairless, Ashcroft Capital

13. A Return to Human Interaction

As advanced as technology has become, automated email sequences and chatbots have become the norm and consumers are feeling more ignored than ever. Society is growing weary of the robots and automations, and in 2018 you will see more brands shift their focus back to building relationships with their consumers through real human interaction. – Scott Baxter, PlayYourCourse

14. Enhanced Security

Last year, data leaks affected almost everyone — particularly Equifax’s egregious leak of hundreds of millions of personal records. The general public is more aware of the importance of security and that many web services are unable or unwilling to put security first. Companies that prioritize customer security and privacy as a practice and a branding strategy will reap benefits in 2018. – Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

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