2018 State of Branding Report: Review

Daniel Baldwin
Apr 5, 2018 · 8 min read

This morning, I saw a post on LinkedIn that shared a report put out by Bynder and OnBrand that gives insight into the State of Branding in 2018. They surveyed 500+ marketing decision makers and shared five trends set to dominate the industry in 2018.

Source: Twitter

Reading this, I thought “branding is one of those things marketers know they need to do but typically put it on the backburner until someone else does it for them”. To some, it is viewed as one of those projects that don’t “move the needle”. And that’s okay, because if your primary focus is not your brand, it means that you’re doing something right with your product or service.

But unfortunately, your brand is not a constant; it should evolve with your market and your audience. You might be comforted by the fact that your product sells itself or your offering is self-explanatory, but it’s dangerous to overlook the fact that your product can and may be commoditized and susceptible to takeover by a brand that resonates more with customers. In order to stay relevant, you need to practice methods of putting your brand in front of your target audience.

After reading Bynder and OnBrand’s study, I was inspired to share my thoughts on the 2018 State of Branding, backed by their research. I welcome any feedback in the comments below, via email, or on Twitter.

1. Brands Want to Personalize but Struggle to Find the Right Tech

In today’s digital space, there are various ways to integrate your brand with technology to get your product in front of your customers. However, trends such as VR, AR, and voice recognition might not be the right fit for your product. In order to innovate, it’s important to stay current and ready to shift your strategy when the opportunity arises.

Let’s take a look at an established brand, Dominos. Last year, Dominos surpassed Pizza Hut in sales for the first time, generating $12.2 billion compared to Pizza Hut’s $12.03 billion. Here we have two global brands, essentially selling the same product.

What changed in Dominos’ strategy to contribute to their growing revenue? Dominos developed a campaign with the help of advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusk called AnyWare, which brought ordering to the devices and platforms people already use every day, such as Slack, Smart TVs, Amazon Alexa, or even your car.

Source: Dominos

Granted, it’s easy for large corporations with endless budgets to create the impossible, but what about smaller brands, or even startups?

In 2017, we met Data Does Good, a startup from Brooklyn, NY with the goal of transforming the simple, everyday task of online shopping into social good. In their case, they found the right tech to get the job done. Data Does Good developed a Chrome Extension that collects anonymous shopping data every time a user makes a purchase on Amazon. The data is sold to big tech companies, and those funds are donated to a variety of nonprofits.

Finding the right tech was the easy part. The difficult part was getting users to adapt and use it. Initially, we knew that everyday users would be hesitant to knowingly hand over their personal data. However, we helped Data Does Good find their target audience and build a brand that relates to those users. Through research, surveys, and market insights, we narrowed down their primary target to be liberal, tech-consumed females.

After determining their target demographic, we were able to build a brand and validate their product strategy based on our learnings. We first developed a persona for their target customer and used her as a representative of their brand.

Source: Good Hands

By painting a clear picture of who their brand was trying to reach, we were able to further develop their brand essence and tie personality traits to their company, imbuing emotion into every customer touchpoint.

Source: Good Hands

Following the rebrand we did with Data Does Good, the company was able to build trust and humanize their brand, leading to a successful launch and partnerships with the likes of Susan G. Komen.

Source: Good Hands

2. Voice Assistants Dominate Tech Investments

In the 2018 State of Branding Report, 40% of respondents said that they planned on investing in voice assistant technology for marketing purposes in 2018.

Source: 2018 State of Branding Report

Some companies are already using this technology to offer catered results for things like messaging, briefings, shopping and music, however, others are developing unique products with voice recognition as a part of it’s core functionality.

One of our clients, Drivemode, did exactly that. By developing a “no look” interface, Drivemode uses your voice to control all of your apps while you drive: music, GPS, messaging, and more.

Source: TechCrunch

Following our work with the company, Drivemode raised $6.5 million in a new Series A round, led by Panasonic, which, among its many talents, is also one of the largest automotive industry suppliers in the world.


3. Influencer Marketing Is Still Hot

By now, we hope you know the positive effect social media can have on a business. A growing trend in the world of social media today is influencer marketing. Brands are recruiting influencers to entice, encourage, and sell their products, and according to a poll by Tomoson, it pays off. In their study, they found businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.

In order to have a successful influencer marketing strategy, you first need to have a bulletproof content strategy. One of our clients, TINT, is on a mission to humanize marketing and give their customers the platform to do just that. Today, TINT combines social media, influencer content, and branded content and allows brands to display it across each of their marketing touchpoints, giving brands the foundation to create conversation and influence purchasing decisions.

Source: TINT

Prior to working with TINT, however, the company was selling their tool as a social media display, focusing on the product rather than the value. We helped rebrand and reposition the product, showing the ROI at every touchpoint. By developing case studies, white papers, landing pages, and more, we were able to successfully help TINT reach $5 million ARR in 2017. With a focus on building a trusted brand rather than a social widget, TINT is projected to surpass their earnings this year.

Source: TINT

We predict that in 2018, video content is going to boom, and influencers are certainly going to be behind this movement. By the year 2020, it is projected that video traffic will be 80% of the total consumer internet traffic.


4. Brand Activism Is on the Rise

As of June 25, 2017, the slang definition for “woke” has officially been added to the Oxford Dictionary. Behind this movement, you’ll find Generation Z and Millenials, both equally passionate about Cause Marketing and Social Activism.

How does this relate to brands? Well in a study by Forbes, 75 percent of millennials said it’s important that the brands they buy from give back to society. Brands are using this as an opportunity to develop a voice, polish their core values, and present themselves in a way that shares the same passion as their audience.

One of our clients, We Wear Us, is doing just that. With the vision of bringing affordable, authentic South Asian wear to women all around the world, CEO Diya Varma is launching a platform that serves to give aspiring, growing, and established creators a voice to share their stories, and a marketplace to grow their brands.

Some of the exciting work that we have done with We Wear Us includes the production of a video showcasing her product and story narrative as well as a complete brand identity project, aligning her vision with her brand’s appearance.

Source: Good Hands

5. Marketing Teams Are Hiring More Tech Talent

In the 2018 State of Branding Report, the majority of respondents (25%) said that improving customer experience was a priority for their marketing organization in 2018.

Source: 2018 State of Branding Report

55% of respondents said that they were investing in creative talent (videographers, designers, copywriters, etc.) this year, and 53% said they were investing in technical talent (developers, UX designers, etc.) as well.

Source: 2018 State of Branding Report

It’s apparent that change is on the horizon and uncertainties could be the only thing holding marketers back at this point. It’s also best to remember that these are trends for 2018 and not timeless.

The stories of our clients and examples of our work are from 2017 and earlier. We thrive off of monitoring trends, researching markets, and creating work that is timeless and meaningful and take pride in influencing positive business decisions. Our unique approach combines strategy, creative, and technical skills at every stage of our work process, and we truly believe that this helps turn brands into industry leaders.

At Good Hands, we help brands prepare for the future of marketing. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help your brand, email us at hello@goodhands.co. Or, follow us on Twitter or Instagram to stay connected with our work and more content like this.


Special thanks to Bynder and OnBrand for conducting this survey and inspiring this post. 🤙

Good Hands

We build brands and design things.

Daniel Baldwin

Written by

Co-Founder & Creative Director at www.goodhands.co

Good Hands

We build brands and design things.