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TODD SMITH — 8 trends every brand & business leader should eye in 2017


Tech and digital marketing tools will continue to improve how brands, companies and businesses reach consumers as we open the book on 2017 – and executives must adapt to reach ever-evolving audiences.

Here are some of the top trends and changes in products, marketing, and leadership to tune into going into the new year, according to Fortune:

1. The Internet of Things.

In 2016, smart devices became more efficient and capable than ever. Products like the Amazon Echo and Nest allow us to change the environment in our home remotely through other smart devices.

In 2017, we’ll continue to see advancements in sensors, software and technology that will allow our devices to be interconnected and speak to one another.

2. Green products.

Consumers care about corporations that are socially responsible and sustainable. The younger generation is increasingly likely to buy into companies that follow a giveback model or feature environmentally friendly products and packaging.

Companies are aware that millennials are giving priority to those who are socially conscious and are adapting their products and values accordingly.

3. Personalized products.

Companies are going out of their way to touch each consumer and make products tailored to the individual. Consumers want a sense of independence and will buy from companies who value their individuality.

There are examples of this trend in everything from Nike’s customizable shoes to Tesla allowing consumers to completely build and personalize every detail of their new automobile from scratch.

4. Drone technology.

Drones have become the must-have toy for hobbyists throughout the world. Businesses are starting to leverage the technology for enhanced customer experiences.

One example worth noting is Villaway, a company initiating drone property tours of vacation homes in 2017. The use of drone technology for enhanced consumer education is driving the future.

5. Creating a personal brand.

New and emerging digital platforms allow businesses and individuals to distinguish themselves from competitors by building a personal brand.

This personal brand is how a business will gain individuality when marketing themselves to an audience. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube allow audiences to feel connected to businesses while learning about the brand values and vision. /react-text

6. Artificial intelligence.

In 2017, we’ll see the rise of machines that can learn and complete tasks that would normally require human intelligence.

We’ve already caught a glimpse of technology that can problem-solve on its own, like self-driving cars. In the next year, we’ll be exposed to more tech that can adapt and learn skills only we as humans have possessed thus far. You can already even request a fully autonomous Uber.

7. Fitness wearables.

Consumers are gravitating toward fitness wearables as new technology allows us to track what we eat, how far we walk, and what kinds of exercises we do throughout the day. Fitbit, Apple watches and the Nike Running app provide a competitive way for consumers to stay active and healthy.

We will likely see the release of wearables with even more intuitive software in 2017.

8.  Social media marketing.

Social media has become a crucial addition to every brand’s public relations and marketing strategies. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will continue to improve ads and analytics, making it easier for brands to reach their target consumers.

Social media will continue to be an important way for brands to maintain relationships and build a community of loyal customers.

Biggest brand fails of 2016

Despite being more cautious this year, brands still ended up with plenty of egg on their faces. As 2016 winds down, DigiDay looked back at some of the more cringe-worthy moments from brands that should have known better. Whether through a tone-deaf campaign or straight-out crisis, these companies left us all wondering what they were thinking.

Here are a couple of the biggest brand fails of 2016:

Samsung’s PR disaster

Samsung had an explosive year. You know you have a disaster on your hands when your brand starts to be perceived as a threat to public safety.

With hundreds of reported cases of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 devices overheating, Samsung became the hottest brand of 2016 for all the wrong reasons. Exploding batteries may have triggered Samsung’s brand crisis, but the smartphone maker’s woes were further exacerbated by other brands, including transit authorities like New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and airlines all telling passengers not to turn on Note 7s or charge them on flights, buses and trains – and eventually most airlines banned them altogether.

All the negative press severely affected the brand online, with over 75 percent of the digital content engagement around the brand being negative in the immediate aftermath of it announcing a recall last September.

Retailers lifting designs

From Zara to Forever21 and Topshop to even plus-size darling Lane Bryant, a number of retailers came under fire for artistic theft this year. In June, Forever 21 was slammed for copying Kanye West’s Life of Pablo shirts.

Zara, meanwhile, landed itself in hot water when it allegedly stole some 40 designs from independent illustrators, designers and smaller brands. But that wasn’t it. In September, Topshop was forced to pull a $700 leather jacket from its online store after complaints on social media that it used a punk band’s logos without permission whereas Lane Bryant found itself in the midst of a social media storm when artist Shantell Martin wrote a Facebook post accusing the brand of lifting her designs.

Golden Mic | Clemson Tigers, Deshaun Watson & Dabo Swinney grab National Championship

College football’s first national championship rematch was a fitting sequel to the original, with an unusual twist at the end.

Deshaun Watson, Ben Boulware, Coach Dabo Swinney and Clemson dethroned the champs and became the first team to beat Nick Saban’s Alabama dynasty in a national title game, taking down the top-ranked Crimson Tide 35-31 Monday night in the College Football Championship.

Watson found Hunter Renfrow for a 2-yard touchdown pass with a second remaining to give the Tigers their first national championship since 1981. A year after Alabama won its fourth title under Saban with a 45-40 classic in Arizona, Clemson closed the deal and denied the Tide an unprecedented fifth championship in eight seasons.

The lead changed hands three times in the fourth quarter, but Watson got the ball last. Likely playing in his final college game, the junior quarterback threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns.

Coach Dabo Swinney built an elite program at Clemson that was missing only one thing, and now Tiger Nation has the championship trophy – and the Golden Mic – to prove it! The Tigers are the baddest brand in football land!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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