Trends are everywhere from food, to fashion, to music. Brands are no stranger to trends, both creating and following them. The most ubiquitous trend of the 2010s would have to be that of the ‘hipster’. The male hipster wears a beard like a 19th century preacher, has perfectly coiffured hair, shuns socks, cares about the provenance of his coffee, and his mode of transport was last thought of as technologically advanced in 1885.
As a trend grows (and this one exploded) more and more brands want to exploit it. This usually marks the beginning of the end for a trend. When a mainstream department store starts featuring Ned Kelly look-a-likes in its catalogues, the trend is pretty much dead.
There have been times when clients have indicated they wanted to follow a trend. WE don’t have issue with this as long as the strategy supports a business objective. But before you look to follow a trend, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is the trend done?
Are you riding the vanguard or the rearguard of the trend? If you’re a mainstream brand, I hazard a guess you’ve missed the wave. The trend will be over before the ink dries on your letterpress business cards.
2. How long is your brand’s life cycle?
If your brand or product’s life cycle is less than 5 years, then ride the trend and ride it hard. In 5 years time you’ll have developed another to replace it and ride the next trend. If, however, you’d like to develop an enduring brand, avoid trend. Your story, told authentically, will be far more convincing.
3. Is it believable?
If your product is somewhat disposable then following a trend is probably the right strategy. If you are your target market, then it also becomes believable.
4. Are you a leader or a follower?
Why not set out to start your own trend? Study your market for the gaps. Identify what is not being offered. Find the unmet needs. This is where tomorrow’s trend lives.
Above all, remember what Coco Chanel had to say on the subject: “Fashion passes; style endures.”