Ask anybody in the digital marketing realm and they will tell you that one of your first tasks as a new company or aspiring influencer is to create and grow a strong, authentic image around your brand that resonates with your core values and mission.
But for all the wisdom that exists on the web on the timeless, tried-and-true techniques for how to cultivate a strong brand identity, it is equally important-- and even more exciting-- to talk about how the shifting digital landscape is bending (and sometimes completely breaking) the status quo.
Enter the Creative Director and Cofounder of 2hdesign, Matías Lasarte.
Mati is no stranger to the classical rules of the branding game. With over 20 years of experience in audiovisual design, motion graphics, and UI/UX, Mati has witnessed the rise and fall of thousands of brands along with the trends that caused them to sink or swim.
And he clearly paid attention, because his own personal brand is still going strong 16 years later in an industry where most agencies fail within the first few years.
We sat down with Mati recently to find out to what he attributes his uncommon success, the classical rules he still follows, and how he plans to navigate the digital waves in 2019. Read on!
The digital landscape is changing, but some things about building a brand are timeless. What are the fundamentals that we should all keep in mind when trying to build a brand online?
Mati: First and foremost, know your audience. You need to understand your customers deeply before you can possibly face the challenge of presenting them with a brand identity that will truly resonate. But don’t lose sight of yourself in this task! What will make you stand out from competitors is not only how well you differentiate yourself but how well you deliver a message that is consistent with your own values as a company.
A brand must present a wide range of visual continuity, so you need to also be thinking about how to support your visual identity across many different platforms and touchpoints. This means asking yourself the right questions, such us: How will my logo behave on different pieces, formats or colors? Which types of images should I consider for my campaigns? or What tone should I take when speaking to my potential clients? This last can help in font selection, for example.
Finally, distribution matters and email is still an effective way to deliver your content-- but don’t stop there! Consider remarketing campaigns, as there is always something you can tweak after you have analyzed your audience statistics.
OK, so what has changed in the last year that should influence the way we think about building a personal or business brand in 2019?
Mati: In the past, companies could get away with focusing on their website alone. This siloed way of thinking about an online presence officially doesn’t work anymore! Beyond having a strong website, you must also nurture that site well across the various social media channels. This means being thoughtful about how your content will adapt across a wide range of formats, as the social media landscape these days is incredibly diverse. Leave this unattended at your own risk!
Your SEO efforts to gain organic traffic to your website is another area that requires continuous monitoring and refinement and deserves a careful look if you want to stay at the top of your game this year.
Of course, we can’t overlook the trend of personalization, as it has been a distinctive feature of the most successful marketing campaigns in recent times. Particularly powerful is the trend of combining personalization with storytelling to effectively connect with your customers by appealing to their emotions through memorable experiences.
If you can engage your audience with constant, fresh new content, delivered as an experience rather than just a simple message, you will far outrun your peers. Content is King!
Let’s talk about logos! A logo is often the first impression you have with your customers, so it is critical for your brand. In your opinion, what makes for a really strong logo?
Mati: A great logo design not only tells your story effectively but adapts well across all communication environments without losing identity. Best practices are to keep it simple and decodable, opting for the suggestive and abstract rather than the literal. Your logo will be your brand's face, and the message it sends must be instantly recognizable to your audience!
To achieve these qualities it is often useful to start with some competitor research, but the core process is always about conceptualization and abstraction. That is, brainstorming to find the key message, and then chipping away at the non-essential to arrive at the most elegant, succinct representation possible for that message. Needless to say, the communication loop needs to be extremely tight if you’re performing this task for an external client!
Turning now to social media, which platforms are waning in popularity and which new ones should we be watching out for this year?
Mati: Medium, InVison, and Flipboard will continue to be top contenders in the social scene. LinkedIn is the one to watch for anyone interested in B2B business growth (or an organic career boost!). Facebook and Snapchat have recently started to lose Millennials, making way for Instagram and IG TV. This last provides a whole new playing field as it focuses on vertical video, and content creators/brands will have fun experimenting to determine how best to optimize their content to utilize this new format.
What are your predictions about the role of video content in 2019?
Mati: What has been interesting to me recently is the adoption of “choose your own adventure” video experiences. This is moving us from static and passive consumption into a journey where the audience participates as co-creators.
Interactive video not only achieves memorable experiences, but opens the possibility of exploring consumer habits based on the real-time feedback and inputs they contribute. This is especially exciting in the field of education, as people of all ages are looking for meaningful learning experiences online that they can consume in a way and at a time that is most convenient for them.
Partially due to the enormous popularity of the video medium in 2019, 2hdesign has doubled down the investment in our personalized, automated video platform Bodymovin Solutions. With this exciting tool, which is currently being transformed into a fully customer-autonomous web app, we can produce dynamic videos that engage at levels I’ve frankly never seen before in the industry. We think these code-based videos will spark a revolution in how video content is presented on the web!
Do you have any other predictions for this upcoming year that digital marketers should keep in mind?
Mati: Artificial intelligence and machine learning will continue to heap on huge gains in understanding user behavior, allowing us to significantly refine our targeting in advertising, education, and a host of other industries.
Deep personalization via novel tools like BMS will start to unleash a new world of fast, intelligent web animation that is increasingly interactive and story-driven, pushing engagement rates to record-breaking percentages.
The combination of the two-- connecting personalized video outputs to AI and machine learning inputs to tap into the real-time predictive power such systems hold to inform user intent-- will be unstoppable!