Each year at Dotted Line, our team rallies around a theme. It’s usually inspired by a bit of content or a book that’s been impactful to us. This year’s inspiration comes from Shawn Achor’s book Big Potential.

Achor opens Big Potential. with a story that emphasizes the importance of hidden connections by describing the initial discovery of lightning bugs. A biologist discovered a number of bioluminescent lightning bugs deep in the mangroves of Southeast Asia, all luminating at the same time. While the precision of the blinking seemed physically, mathematically, and biologically impossible, it turned out that it served a very important, specific purpose – increasing the bugs’ success rate in the mating process. According to Achor, “the [mating process] success rate increases by 79% when flashing as an interconnected community rather than individuals.”

Hidden connections are also out there beyond the walls of our agency. At Dotted Line, we’ve identified some movements and shifts in this age of connectedness, and this year, we’re taking a cue from Big Potential. as we pay close attention to the possibilities that may be hidden behind some of the biggest brand trends we’re experiencing and observing.

Trend 1: Consumers are setting the tone for what and how they want to hear from brands.

Gone are the days of one-way communication in advertising. The sheer number of channels, tools, and market possibilities available make marketing a much more complex landscape – but one that lends itself to increased transparency in consumer-brand relationships. Trends such as branded content, partnerships, and promotion of cultural relevancy are the driving forces behind a new type of relationship-building with consumers. Consumers are taking the reins, and in exchange for their dollars, they want brands that do good things and are true to their values.

The Hidden Potential:

  • Connecting with consumers is about connecting with their minds and their hearts as part of the experience. Brands that take the time to truly understand their target customer (their desires, their beliefs, the things they care about) are winning.
  • Building these kinds of high-quality relationships results in trust that lasts long term and survives trends.
  • Communication with consumers needs to be two-way – we need to take the time to listen, not just market.

Trend 2: We have more data at our fingertips than ever before, but we’re struggling to get the most value out of it.

Metrics are everywhere – we measure page visits, Instagram engagement, content downloads, etc. – but they’re tricky to attribute to a specific brand or campaign purpose in a silo. The best marketers are connecting the dots with data to learn more about consumers’ decision-making processes, and they’re leveraging data visualization to understand the power of interconnected activity (like in the case of those lightning bugs) in the buying journey.

The Hidden Potential:

  • Brands need to be constantly upping their analytics game.
  • Partnerships are a good way to achieve this, to avoid hiring contractors or entire teams.
  • Data that isn’t being understood or truly mined for its worth is useless. Visualization helps users see trends, patterns, and the big picture in a way that helps them understand potential.
  • Good data – data that not only explores trends, but also traces interconnectedness and the bigger picture – doesn’t just benefit marketing centers. It can also help with product development and organizational analytics.

Trend 3: Brand marketing matters more than ever.

As the lines between branding, media, and communications continue to blur, marketers are becoming more fluid and flexible in their approaches. Creative energy can be found anywhere – not just at agencies. Brands want to connect with consumers in new ways, and that requires research and fresh thinking.

The Hidden Potential:

  • One advertisement will not make a brand shine bright; a suite of creativity is where the hidden potential lies.
  • Marketing isn’t the only place in your organization where you should source ideas. A brand is about all the facets of a business – not just creative.

Big Potential makes a case that shining bright together helps us achieve greater possibilities and success. We agree, so we’re putting that idea into our toolboxes for the year. Connect with us, and we’ll discover the hidden potential for making your brand soar in 2020.

Lauren Sweeney

Lauren Sweeney

Founder & CEO

When Lauren’s not providing strategic direction for the firm or delivering results for our clients, Lauren is outdoors enjoying all that Richmond has to offer or traveling to a new and exciting destination.

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