5 Perspectives on The Brands to Watch in 2018

January 16, 2018 - 9 minute read

Who's going to stand out this year? Will brands that took a battering in 2017 make a statement in 2018? Will it be the year of challenger brands or incumbents?

To bring you answers to these questions (and more), we reached out to 5 experts with very different backgrounds across startups, content, social media, experiential marketing and audio to share their unique perspectives on who are the brands to watch in 2018.

Alison Battisby, Founder, Avocado Social

Monzo: The digital mobile-only challenger bank saw nearly half a million new users sign up for its services and claim their bright orange bank cards last year. Monzo is a fantastic way to manage your budget thanks to their instant updates in the app showing you how much you've just spent, and provide added value when used abroad thanks to their free withdrawls up to £200. 

Having just received their full UK banking license from the FCA and PRA in 2017, Monzo is rolling out "the best current account in the world". With their slick app and excellent communication, they are playing to millennials by offering a unique customer experience and we're set to see even more new banking features in 2018. 
Sanctus: The mental health startup based in London has the vision to create the world's first mental health gym, where people can go and work out their mental health fitness as they would their physical fitness. Right now, the company is working with businesses to create space within a company for people to take time off and talk to a Sanctus coach. In 2018, the company aims to work with 50 business partners and continue to spread awareness of mental health. Founder James Routledge writes an excellent weekly newsletter on mental health and growing the startup, which is honestly written and is well worth a read.
Neom Organics: Hot off the heels of significant new investment, this Harrogate-based beauty and wellbeing brand is set to launch a new range of products in 2018, as well as new retail stores both in the UK and abroad. Neom was found by two friends, one of which was an ex Glamour magazine editor who realised her own wellbeing, and that of her close friends, was affected by the stress and demands of modern life. She quit journalism to train as an aromatherapist and nutritionist before founding Neom. The brand's products focus on improving people’s wellbeing through home fragrances and skincare. 
Adam Azor, Managing Director, Curb
My first pick is Pepsi. Lets be honest, Pepsi had an awful 2017 from a brand perspective, they created what they thought was going to be a work of advertising art, an ad that would change the world, but instead it turned them into a global laughing stock.
This is also on a backdrop of huge backlash and increased legislation against sugary drinks. The days when all they had to worry about was competing against Coca-Cola are probably looked on with nostalgia by the marketing team. However Pepsi are a brand with true marketing pedigree, iconic campaigns, partnerships and experiences.
I’m really interested to see how they come back. The test of a great brand is how they react when they are at their lowest. I will be watching Pepsi closely in 2018 to see what they have planned.

My second one to watch for 2018, is the darling of the Aim, BooHoo. The online based fashion retailer has gone through exceptional growth over the last few years, along with some very smart acquisitions.

However they are now at the point where brand building is becoming as important as performance marketing. I expect an innovative business such as BooHoo to evolve its marketing activity to ensure it not only continues its business growth but becomes a brand leader in its own right.

This will be a year to watch brands take the design aspect of their branding in new and exciting directions.

Sara McGuire, Content Editor, Venngage

A lot of brands are ditching the minimalist branding that has dominated the last few years in favor of this year’s louder and more colorful graphic design trends.

Bright and unconventional colour schemes seem to be the new preference. Combined with bold decorative fonts and the mysterious return of colour gradients, this is turning out to be a pretty funky year for branding.

You may have already noticed your social media feeds looking more vibrant! 

For example, eBay recently went in a colorful direction with their branding. While they’ve kept their iconic font, they’ve taken the bright primary colors of their old logo and applied it to their entire brand.

A quick glance at their Twitter feed will show you plenty of product shots with bright color block backgrounds: 

They have also left their old quad-colored logo behind, opting instead to play around with different brand color schemes: 

GIF source: https://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/new_identity_for_ebay_by_form.php

Dropbox have also decided to take advantage of the freedom offered by using multiple brand color schemes. While their choice was a risk, they’ve managed to pull it off and still maintain consistent banding: 



While it may seem easy to rely on the same branding you’ve always had, these two brands show us that taking risks to make your branding more current can pay off. Both these brand were ahead of the curve - I think we’re going to see a lot more brands following their lead this year!

Joe Copeman, Head of Sales at Acast

Finally we have headphone manufactures invading the podcast space, led by Bose. It obviously makes so much sense given most podcasts are consumed via the immersive experience that headphones offer. Bose have not only sponsored our hero shows but also put budget behind launching new shows & helping listeners discover new content.

One area of huge interest this year is the forward thinking brands that are starting to understand that they should be serving podcast listeners a different creative to those that listen on radio. After all, it's a totally personal & immersive environment. You don't need to shout to gain their attention like radio has to. Instead you can whisper into their ear, you can play soundscapes for them to enjoy, with a non intrusive message. Brands that have made immersive 3D ads include Land Rover, Penguin & Xbox. Even supermarkets are now using copy that tell stories like Tesco have done in 2017 rather than offer messages.

We see huge interest in our podcasts from Ents brands - So Sky, Netflix & all the major film distributors. Not only in ads, but by asking our talent to attend screenings then talk about them in their shows, & having actors & directors interviewed too. We expect this to continue this year.

We've recently seen a surge in interest from beauty brands, fresh off the launch of many female influencers in the 2nd half of 2017. The first are starting to book now, but we expect many more to follow suit. They are not just buying into podcasts but the talent we have on offer, with the creative used being used beyond the show providing extended reach for the client.

DR companies still invest heavily into podcasts as it is such an accountable medium - as each show has a unique code providing listeners discounts. This will continue, but the rise of branding campaigns has already surpassed this spend in the UK & will continue to do so. That said, we expect the Deliveroo, Nutmeg, AirBnB's of the world to see podcasts as a ripe marketplace to reach potential new customers.

Being a World Cup year, we are already seeing a huge amount of interest in our Football content as brands try achieve stand out in podcasts as opposed to more cluttered mediums. From bookmakers to TV manufacturers, it's a relatively new world of opportunity to most.

Rebecca Allen, Head of Branded Content, The Drum

Heist has gone from start-up to cult status amongst women in the last two years, all through a revolutionary approach to producing tights. Now with a pair being sold every 15 seconds, their secret is researching what women actually want out of an accessory that has had any real redesign in decades.

One of the aspects making these tights so popular is the fact that instead of stitching two legs together with a waistband on top, they are knitted together in a continuous tube – doing away with the much-hated gusset and toe seams.

They are now shipping to 38 countries worldwide and are seeing a growth of 30% month on month. In 2018, Heist are planning on rolling out other underwear products based on research amongst 1000 women from varying demographics, so I’m really interested to see what other game-changers emerge from them.

heist tights.jpg

Atom Bank. I believe this UK mobile app brand is one to watch.

Founded in 2014, over the last 18 months they have launched fixed saving products (with much better returns than you can find on the high street, as well as secured loans and retail mortgages, with current accounts to follow.

The app is very easy to use and has a customised look and feel for every customer. Having raised £220m in funding, £100k of which was in 2017, and already passing £900m in deposits, they are gaining traction fast amongst their largely 25-35 year-old target customer base. As another challenger bank brand built for the mobile generation, Atom look set to be a significant player in 2018.

In conclusion

2018 is set to be an incredibly exciting year for brands, with new trends and technologies emerging; while others will look to tap into their heritage and get the basics right.

As always, the big question remains: how will your target consumers respond to your efforts? 

If you're keen to know that your brand building campaigns are going to hit the mark before you invest heavily in them (or receive an all-too-common public backlash), then we're ready and waiting to help you stand for all the right reasons in 2018.

Get in touch with our experienced team of brand intelligence experts to learn more or schedule a demo.

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