Upcoming trend ‘Soft Branding’

There is a current shift towards softer, more emotional and intuitive brands. ‘Soft Branding’ is one of the trends that designers need to be aware of next season, says trend research group The Future Laboratory.

This is just one of five trends that will be explored at Future Laboratory’s forthcoming bi-annual Trend Briefing Day in April.

As designers we should have an awareness of the rise of the feminocracy and indulgence decade. Many brands have seen a dramatic rise in sales by simply just turning their existing products pink, especially when you look at the technology sector. However this does not mean that branding and packaging should all be turned pink.

It is about making products more intuitive – The Apple Mac has a ‘feminine’ appeal, in contrast to the more masculine Dell design. The design is softer, and more consideration has been given to every detail, the shape, the lines and what it feels like. The designers have taken into account the full user experience.

The Apple Mac became an item to aspire to and instantly recognisable. You feel good sat on the train, or in a cafe with your Mac sat in front of you. This is the emotional pull making you feel that bit special, and you translate this feeling to the product. You want people to see you with it. With the Apple iPod they also introduced an emotional element to its design which men love. The Nintendo Wii is another example of design being used in a female way.

Another trend under discussion at the Trend Briefing will be the rise of concierge-style services dedicated to wooing consumers. For example, with the continued rise in internet shopping, brands can lose that personal ‘over the counter’ touch, but delivering your items specially gift wrapped or including that little extra item within the package will increase a consumers brand loyalty in your product returning that personal touch. Gripping your consumer at an emotional level, so they can make a connection with your brand.

One of the challenges for designers is to keep an eye on who they are designing for, and what they are looking for. Consumers are looking for brands they can trust. Feel comfortable with and can build a deep relationship. Have a quick think on how many women you know that have used the same cosmetic brand for years and ask them why.

Talking about upcoming trends is just a way of examining the market. It is important to keep looking at the changes in design and examine the reasons behind these things happening, and why they might be relevant.

Future Laboratory’s trendbriefing day takes place on 9 April at Wilton’s Music Hall, London E1. For further details, visit www.thefuturelaboratory.com.

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