MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for:What’s your New Year’s resolution? is written by Susan Smith Ellis, CMO of Getty Images.
At this time every year, like most people, I often reflect on the previous 12 months, taking the time to study and take stock of the lessons and achievements I’ve experienced. The resetting of the calendar year is commonly used as a catalyst to set or renew a goal that was, more often than not, hard to sustain throughout the previous year. It’s no surprise then that given this context, New Year’s resolutions so often fail.
We have a team of visual anthropologists at Getty Images who we only semi-jokingly call “the prophets.” They analyze customer buying trends, advertisements, pop culture, social media and around 2.35 billion annual image searches on our website to identify the next big trends in imagery. This year’s predictions show that in 2016, we can expect visual communications to really revel in the extremes — they’re all about embracing dichotomies; grounding and elevating, silence and noise and getting comfortable with the visceral, the bold and the surreal.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to throw tired, regurgitated New Year’s resolutions to the wind and take the essence of these bold trends with me into 2016. There is something here all brands can learn about embracing change, bringing ourselves back down to earth, and remembering to connect:
Celebrate the rebel
We’ve seen a lot of brave protagonists this year, pushing the envelope and challenging norms. Rebels, non-conformists and outsiders are being more readily embraced, the product of a more globalized society. It’s something that even the most established businesses can adopt. Celebrating the full spectrum of diversity broadens your reach to an even wider audience, meanwhile challenging your own traditions and identity can help to differentiate your brand. This is not only the year to rebel, but to be a rebel with a cause.
Technology has transformed our way of life. With the onslaught of personal devices and Internet of Things, you’d be forgiven for thinking the world is fast becoming a science fiction novel. However, we’re also becoming more interconnected, more engaged and more communicative with the world around us. These new developments are opportunities to care, love and connect with ourselves and each other – better. Brands should look beyond the “wireless” and seize the opportunity to add a sense of human connection and emotion to technology to engage modern audiences.
There was a great ad for Method soap in 2014 that was centered on the tagline and concept of “life’s messy moments.” Remembering this truism has never been more important than in this hyper-perfect, digitized world we live in. Next year should be all about making a mess and appealing to the senses –think dirty, sloppy, sticky, oozy, crumbly. For brands, it’s using hyper-engagement to stand out from the crowd and be remembered.
Less is more
As we get more interconnected, it’s easy to become over-stimulated. In order to stand out, sometimes we need to be reminded that silence can be incredibly loud. Brands can optimize their presence visually through minimalism, bold visual contrasts and clever use of space to engage consumers and provide a calm space in a digitally hectic world. Take a step back this year and find the beauty in restraint.
We’re not just connecting to each other anymore, but looking to connect with a higher purpose. Businesses will no longer be able to get away with lip service. As consumers increasingly practice meaningful consumption and look beneath the surface to find a brand’s moral connection, businesses should seek to elevate their own sense of purpose.
Unleash the creative
Despite a long dedication to the authentic and real, next year there will be a greater hunger for the surreal, the surprising and the unexpected. Relating to an audience doesn’t necessarily mean mirroring their lives anymore, but tapping into their values and fantasies to deliver a world that takes imagination to the next level.