Gail Bower's Blog

Gail BowerThis blog will help you and your organization flourish.

Find provocative ideas, strategies, and best practices to increase your organization's visilibity, revenue, and impact.

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How to Better Leverage Trends for Branding and Marketing Liftoff

Tapping into trends can cause your brand and marketing to achieve liftoff more rapidly.Being aware of and tapping into trends and the cultural zeitgeist can be a great way to keep your marketing messages and brand contemporary to new and existing audiences.

Business leaders, entrepreneurs, marketers, and enterprising nonprofit CEOS are notoriously curious. When you have this trait, you’re eager, playful, and exploratory. 

On the flip side, however, you also may have shiny object syndrome, quickly growing bored with what feels like the same messages and stories you repeat often. 

To keep them fresh and interesting, for you and your audiences, align them with a trend, something new happening in our culture that’s organized into a pattern of behavior.

For example, one of my clients, formerly known as the Greater Reading Convention & Visitors Bureau, recently rebranded as Pennsylvania’s Americana Region. When I first met the organization years ago, their marketing had a “something for everyone” approach to it. 

The problem with something-for-everyone is that you blend in, and customers don’t really know why you stand out. In my client’s case, visitors may have been hard pressed to know why they should explore Berks County, PA, over any number of surrounding regions? The assets of Berks County were buried and homogenized.

Two attributes that really stand out about the region are its outdoor and historic assets. It has great hiking and mountain biking offerings. It also has interesting historical sites — Daniel Boone’s homestead, unique examples of Pennsylvania Dutch art, and an extensive collection of historical museums. The Bureau’s voice when marketing these assets always rang true with an authenticity that could not be replicated.

Before rebranding the organization engaged a tourism research study to more fully understand the value of their region’s assets and the relevant drivers of adult tourists. The researchers found that their assets could be leveraged to reach an audience of more than 60 million potential visitors.

  • Baby Boomers represent America’s prime cultural and heritage travelers.
  • Generation X are travelers most aligned with rural America and Americana.
  • Millennials seek outdoor recreation, active vacations, uniqueness, and culinary experiences.

See? The greater Reading area has something for everyone!

But instead of positioning using this generic value proposition, the new brand that emerged from the study and my early observations about their authentic value wraps the destination’s offerings in good old-fashioned values and imagery that feels good and is distinct.

When they added in the tourism assets in surrounding region, they could see they had something really special to offer, and the new brand accentuates that value. 

Here’s another reason why “Pennsylvania’s Americana Region” is a perfect choice. It taps into an important trend at the moment.

As someone trained as a futurist, I pay attention to how our culture is shifting and what these changes mean for my clients’ businesses. One trend cluster I’ve identified is what I call the “Pattern of Opposites.”

We have opposite movements happening, one step forward, one step backwards. Or perhaps a movement into the future and a little resistance, sometimes with a new spin, at the same time. 

How does this show up? Here’s a sampling:

  • More opportunities for women, people of color, LGBT individuals, but more confusion and lashing out by dominant culture.
  • We’re going global and local at the same time.
  • Culture’s pace is accelerating (technology) and slowing down (Slow Food) at the same time.
  • We have interconnected highways and autonomous cars along with expanding bike lanes and trails.
  • We have world cuisine and a farm-to-table movement.

At the same time we have amazing scientific, biotech, and technological advancements, we have a segment of society that longs for the good old days.

My client’s new brand takes advantage of this pattern, offering a visit with the past with all the modern comforts. It packages these wonderful assets with appealing messaging and imagery for their ideal visitors.

How can your organization leverage this trend, the Pattern of Opposites?  What other trends do you recognize that could be advantageous to your organization?



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