When you pop the tab on your favorite soda and take a sip, it tastes the same as it always has. Cool, crisp, and refreshingly sweet. When you look at the packaging of that soda however, at the way that it targets you via ads on your Waze app and tries to engage with you via Instagram, it’s definitely not the same soda you’ve grown to love.

In 2017—when digital truly was King—products of yesteryear and today alike have had to rethink and reimagine what it means to be a brand. It’s become less about maintaining an image as it has been about maintaining an experience for fans across all walks of life. Resting on your laurels when it comes to recognizability only does so much when, at every swipe of a mobile screen, a new competitor arises with highly targeted messaging.

A shift in control

The word influence in years gone by was in the hands of companies and any agency they chose to work with in securing TV spots and audience eyeballs. They were in control of their messaging. They were in control of their perception.

Flash forward to a year where brands have become reliant on the influence of seemingly everyday people in order to gain audience eyeballs on social media. It looks like there’s no such thing as Kansas anymore, Toto.

In 2017 and beyond, consumers have taken full control of the branding experience. Consumers own the conversation with platforms that elevate voices to universal levels. In addition, it’s not only what they say, it’s where they say it. Brands and those driving them are at the mercy of a playing field that’s constantly changing and being changed by those most influential to their survival.

Brand redesigns of 2017

Branding in 2017 led to a revisiting of imagery from companies in almost every industry. Logos in particular received a variety of treatments with many focused on minimalism. In addition, playing off a sense of nostalgia proved popular for brands attempting to activate emotional responses from even the most “millennial” of consumers.

In an attempt to clean and simplify, Tinder underwent a shift in logo design back in August, removing the wordmark. Leaving behind a simple icon, this seems to echo efforts made by other brands to establish recognition through standalone imagery.

YouTube also made somewhat similar strides in this area. By incorporating a play button and making it the focal point of the new logo, they were able to bring further recognizability to the icon itself. And this icon further drives home everything that YouTube is: a place to press ‘play’.

In what some have suggested was an attempt to broaden its appeal to more masculine audiences, Pinterest embraced a sturdier font in the developing of their new logo. Medium also underwent some refinement with their logo in an attempt to go back to basics.

The aforementioned appeal to nostalgia continues to remain popular among brands as well in the treatment of redesigned logos. Converse was one example of that in 2017. The star chevron imagery that has remained a part of their visual identity since the ‘70s, now takes even more of a focal point in their branding of today.

Beauty is only skin deep

One major takeaway from the continue transformation of branding in today’s digital world, is that consumers are looking to connect with brands beyond the surface level. The simplification of logos hints towards branding that is being designed for the platforms most likely to be seen on and the audiences surfing those channels. In embracing this digital landscape from the top down, brands are committing to the building of even more involved content experiences in the years to come.

Some of the best content marketing efforts of the year can be found from brands, who have come to identify themselves with more than just the masses. With so many different platforms and audiences to appeal to, the one thing proving most effective at reaching those most likely to act: highly targeted messaging. Narrowing in on specific audiences with a mission and belief system they can connect to has proved useful for a number of different brands.

Patagonia is one example of a brand that has put a mission rooted in social responsibility at the forefront of their marketing efforts. With a blog sharing out environmental pieces, podcast partnerships centered around the outdoors and an incredibly active Instagram following, sales have taken second place to stories. Connecting with niche audiences in meaningful ways across a variety of platforms has resulted in proven affinity and recognition of the brand as something more than just a company selling goods for the outdoors.

Blue Apron has shown to operate in a similar content vein. Having gained recognition in the meal kit space, the company has utilized content to further fuel their customer base. Featuring stories on their blog that introduce conversations around independent suppliers, food waste and more, has generated a community willing to engage with the brand beyond the product.

There’s been no shortage of companies transforming blog material into digital ads and content in 2017 either. Whole Foods Market has fully embraced YouTube in their content marketing efforts, with a number of weekly series dedicated to recipes, cooking tricks and tips, trends in food, and more. Building out a content library has not only given them opportunities to transform it across other platforms. It has also ensured that when consumers seek out those recipe needs, Whole Foods is consistently surfaced in their results.

The transformation of brands in 2017 from a visual and content-based perspective is certainly reflective of the consumer trends being adopted. And as competition continues to grow with audiences glued to their devices, 2018 will certainly see continued shifts towards initiatives that better help brands drive connection.

Interested in expanding your brand vision for the New Year and beyond? At a loss for where to begin? Get inspired with Mabbly—contact us today.

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