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How to Future-Proof your Brand with Trends

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Lauren McCabe

You may sense it intuitively – a shift in the market destined to impact your brand and business. What comes next is the hard part.  

How do you validate your idea? How do you convince stakeholders to invest in your vision? And finally, how do you enroll your teams to execute on it? 

The answer: carefully vetted trends. 

When I say trends, I don’t mean fads. Those short-lived crazes that rarely endure. 

Trends are changes in human needs that drive innovation. Once they reach a tipping point, they always endure, transforming how consumers think, act, and function forever more. 

Picture the macro trend “Convenience” pioneered by brands like Amazon and Zappos. Convenience is now the status quo for what consumers expect for all online shopping experiences, and it has permeated other industries – like healthcare. 

So, how can trends help you sell your future brand vision? 

As a Brand Strategist at MDRG, I help clients integrate trends into their brand planning and strategy process so they can act on them when they’re just emerging.

This looks different for every organization and can involve developing annual trend reports for cross-functional teams or exploring a trend firsthand through primary research. 

Here are a few ways that you can begin integrating trends into your process for a future-proof brand strategy. 

1. Explore and validate trends in market research   

One of the best opportunities to explore and validate trends is with primary research.  

Research is the perfect time to explore unmet needs of your consumers, leveraging trend reports to determine the areas you should be exploring and the questions you should be asking. 

Securing a trends intelligence report before you embark on research will enable you to design surveys with care, ensuring you get the most out of your efforts.  

If you field research regularly, you can integrate questions related to future trends, making this a low-stakes way to keep a pulse on future opportunities.  

2. Enhance your Competitive Analysis with Trend Studies 

Competitive reviews are essential to understanding the current industry landscape, threats and opportunities. 

Just as important is understanding where your industry is evolving to next so you can begin to anticipate future opportunities. 

A thorough competitive review should always include a section about future trends that are destined to impact your consumer. This will reveal true opportunity that hasn’t been tapped yet. 

3. Inspire teams with Future Scenarios and Future Personas 

It can be hard to envision the future. 

While teams may intellectually understand the importance of a trend, it can be difficult to envision how it will impact their consumer down the line. 

To make the future tangible, we use Future Scenarios and Future Personas to inspire creative marketing and product teams. 

Future Scenarios illustrate the consumer’s future world once a trend reaches a tipping point with narratives and images that show the new culture and environment. 

Future Personas show how the consumer will function in this new reality, providing teams with valuable psychographics to fuel their creative work. 

The challenge of designing something deeply relevant for consumers is not new, and it's why personas are an essential tool for marketers and creatives.  

Future Personas do that and much more, providing a tangible view of the future to: 

  • Enroll internal stakeholders in a future vision  
  • Inspire product development teams 
  • Motivate creative marketing teams

Now that you have some ideas on how to future proof your brand, I challenge you to really ask yourself what trends are impacting your business. Maybe your team doesn't have time to dive into trends, MDRG does. We can be leveraged throughout brand-building to deliver insights during pivotal moments.  At MDRG, we are digging deep into trends and insights to move our clients' businesses forward. 

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