Trends from SXSW 2014 (and what they mean for your brand)

I. The Future is Now

From artificial intelligence to drones and robots, companies across verticals are working to find new and innovative uses of technology. Some of the most loved brands are tapping into the consumer desire for deep levels of personalization by integrating “quantified self” experiences and data into their products. Others are jumping on the internet of things trend and building products or tools to improve consumers lives by knowing what they need to know before even they do.

Out of this has also come a rising concern for privacy and security, creating an even stronger need for brands to be transparent with how they use consumer data.

What this means for your brand: You can secure your status as an innovator by being the first brand to explore new media. Whether that means experimenting with new products and technology, or building presence on an emerging social channel, you can surprise and delight consumers by being where they are digitally before they are even there.


II. The Power of Brands

With more options than ever for consumers, the value of a strong brand has risen. Brands serve an important role in consumer choice and the more of a 360-degree experience you can offer, the better. Consumers not only want, but expect to find you across all touch points. Additionally, mobile is no longer seen as its own channel – mobile is digital is everything.

What this means for your brand: It’s more important than ever to remain consistent with your brand across media. As your presence continues to expand, work to ensure that everyone is on the same page with the overarching strategy and how it comes to life across each channel and campaign. (And if you need help with this, I know a girl.)


III. The “Collaboration” Economy

With everything at our fingertips digitally, there has been a retreat back to older values of hand-craftedness and peer collaborations. People are experimenting with more “traditional” crafts and hobbies and DIY has emerged as a popular social activity – from book clubs, to paint nights, and more.

Kickstarter and other micro fund sites have proven that by coming together we can even build businesses. Entire brands have been created on the desire to share with one another. Zipcar and Airbnb have both emerged as leaders of the new “sharing economy”.

What this means for your brand: You should consider creative ways to bring your consumers together for shared experiences. For example, if you are in the food industry, you could play up shareable menu items or create incentives for group dining. From a messaging standpoint, you can have as much fun as you want engaging with consumers on Twitter and Facebook, but the tangible payoff for them is in the food. For them, nothing can replace the “real life” joy of eating your food, so don't let them forget it!

Kaitlin Maud