Trendwatching matters because it gives context to planning and is a valuable slice of developing unique insights for brand strategy. While market research is great when it's able to bring thoughtful analysis to groups of data, it's somewhat limited by being inherently historic.
Trends, on the other hand, reflect what's happening now. It's messy picking out trends because you need to sort fads from trends and tease out the threads that make up the patterns while ignoring the fluff. While fads come and go, trends are the patterns that emerge when looking forward for opportunities and new ways of doing things.
The fashion industry is great to look at as an example. When I was an art director in fashion I saw both trends and fads; we'd surf on the larger wave of trends for imagery and campaigns that would outlast the seasons for bigger brand impact. Following a trend is reactive and brands that follow inherently aren't leaders. Recently I repositioned a brand for an aging company that had been a follower and they emerged as a leader within a year; no one was more surprised than an executive on the client team when he showed me that the competition had started to emulate key elements of their new brand identity.
Understanding trends is a vital part of brand-building because I believe it's imperative that the strategic planning is forward-looking with creative that reflects a vision for the future for the brand. Though doesn't exist in the business world, there is a part of being able to pick up on trends before and as they're happening that is just a little bit ethereal, a little magic.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every brand that is making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.