Why being ‘trendy’ is bad for brands

Brands are failing to connect with consumers because they are jumping on cultural bandwagons instead of being authentic claims a recent study from Devries Global. Brands are also failing to communicate in ways that resonate with consumers.

Key findings

The top three ways consumers want brands to speak to them:

  1. They must reflect consumer values and ethics
  2. They must tailor content to the consumer
  3. They must show a commitment to improving society

The top three biggest mistakes brands make when using influencers are:

  1. Working with influencers who don’t have a credible connection to the brand (32.1%)
  2. Influencers who aren’t transparent about the commercial relationship with the brand (27.2%)
  3. Not having a strong enough campaign story” (23.8%)

Crisis of brand identity

Gemma Chaldecott, deputy MD UK at Devries Global, explains a term the agency has come up with to describe the disconnect between a brand’s real identity and how it communicates: “We’ve been talking about ‘Brandbiguity’ for a while. It’s a term we’ve coined to describe the current crisis of brand identity and relevance in today’s 24/7 news cycle.

“In a bid to stay ‘in the feed’, brands are putting out more and more content, and jumping on popular culture ‘trends’ and moments that bear no relevance to their brand values. You can be sure that multiple brands will congratulate or pay tribute to the Spice Girls reunion or forthcoming Avengers movie, for example, despite having absolutely no association with either. Sure, it can be good to join the conversation, but the worrying thing is that you wake up some days and scroll your Insta feed to see the same image and message repeated over and over again. Welcome to Brandbiguity - where everything looks the same! To stand amongst is safer than standing out.”

Lead culture

Chaldecott highlights how brands can be more relevant to consumers and society as a whole: “Brands chase culture instead of leading it. When we say ‘culture’, we don’t mean popular culture, but rather the collective expression of values demonstrated through beliefs and behaviours. When a brand decodes these values and understands its shared principles with consumers, it can create a cultural narrative to stand apart and above the ‘sea of same’ in its category. Indeed, our research found that the top two ingredients for a brand “to feel relevant and cater to me” are that it “reflects my values and ethics” and “tailors its content to me”.

So what is the solution? Chaldecott concludes:“The takeaway is clear: by using values-based communication, brands can start to eradicate Brandbiguity. And by being at the vanguard of this, they can create a long-term strategy of engagement and advocacy for their brand – a community that people actively want to join. Because in our digital world, consumers don’t just need a reason to believe, they crave a reason to belong.”

Methodology

The research was carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Devries Global with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK consumers. To find out more download the Devries Global report “A Crisis of Brandbiguity: Why Chasing Culture Doesn’t Work” at http://www.devriesglobal.co.uk/why-we-exist/