BrightBox team members tend to focus on portraying an outward image on behalf of our clients by tying short, powerful characteristics to their brands. Sometimes, we like to use news and current events to our advantage by positioning brands against the world landscape.

Everything needs context.

Over the last few years, we have observed several important, undeniable trends that have affected American business.

#1 MONEY WORRIES

Retirement accounts have shrunken. Unemployment is a major story in both the news and around the water cooler. The value of property has nose-dived. The American dollar has lost value. The European Union is suffering massive debt problems in several of its member countries, thus affecting the entire European continental market. Wild swings in the stock market have left investors scrambling. Gas prices have been high and unstable. Travel fees have gone up as airlines have scrambled to cover their bottom line. There’s less money to go around.

#2 NEWS WARS

At one point in time, TV had only three stations: ABC, NBS and CBS.

In case you haven’t noticed, those days are over. All three of these stations still do news, but they also have separate cable news channels. Furthermore, talk radio has become a cornerstone of American political content. Bloggers have begun disseminating information at higher and higher rates through independent blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Anyone can become a citizen journalist, thus allowing for a wider breadth of stories, but also creating great verification difficulties. You no longer need high level sources or equipment to become a reporter.

Lesson? Be very careful what you say, and consider alternative press coverage.

#3 REALITY BITES

Television has taken a turn toward realism… sort of. Fiction shows can still become hits, but even some of the more successful shows based on fictional plots have a more realistic feel to them in that they include documentary style interviews and/or lack a laugh track (The Office, Parks and Recreation, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). Some channels are full of reality programming, including shows about celebrities (Hulk Hogan, Ozzie Osbourne, the Kardashian Family) or cooking competitions involving real competitors (the Food Network) or fashion shows galore (Bravo!).

WHAT TO DO:

There is no magic bullet for how to respond to emerging trends of our time. The only definitively wrong way to respond is to do nothing. If you are a high end company, you may need to focus on the high end market and actually raise prices, or you may need to rework your brand to become more middle class. If you seek publicity, feel free to consider the citizen reporters and secondary trade media that now frequent the internet. As for reality, you may want to embrace the current trend by producing more realistic fiction, or you could instead bet on the idea that more obviously fictional material will yield your audience a breath of fresh air.

One way or another, your company should always stay in touch with the times.