09/22/15

THINK: NO MORE BUBBLE BRANDING

BY CHRIS CIULLA, ACCOUNT DIRECTOR

The 'hipster' phenomenon has been an entertaining cultural movement we have all witnessed (and some of us participated in) for the last 10-odd years. A recent Mashablearticle titled, “The Hipster is Dead, and You Might Not Like who Comes Next" by David Infante, helps clarify this elusive moniker and sheds light on the next looming subculture that will define 'urban cool.' Are you ready? They're called 'Yuccies' (Young Urban Creatives.)

Infante asserts that 'Hipsterism' died because it was a small, edgy, anti-consumerism movement that grew to become mainstream and consumerist and thereby lost its cachet: males of every age and pursuit grew topiary-like beards; the masses bought thick-framed glasses; and everyone and his brother began lounging at artisanal coffee shops and small-batch breweries.

But now, it's the Yuccies who will have their chance to shape a brand new trend bubble in a way that differs from Hipsterism in one very important aspect: not only are Yuccies creative and urban, but they actually admit that they admire money and success.

As brand owners and curators, we should be aware of this coming trend and keep in tune with it. But I would also argue that we should avoid overly obsessing about how our brands may or may not be perceived by Yuccies. Instead, we need to focus our greatest efforts on making our products and services truly unique and indispensable, and engaging with Yuccies on those terms.

Whether you're into craft cocktails and retro punk rock or you're an Instagram foodie who appreciates yoga, tech, and work-life balance, the Yuccie will be important for a few reasons: first, they're young; and therefore this is the best time to grab their emotional engagement; second, they will be trend-setters, with an outsized impact not only on social media, but also far beyond (they represent a slice of the Millennial Generation, which is projected to surpass the population of the Baby Boomers in 2015 at 75 million).

The watch-out here is that, just as we've seen with Hipsters, trends come and go. Brands on the other hand should not. Brands should be lasting and authentic, evoking trust and respect to earn business and customer loyalty. So, while as marketers we absolutely need to be innovative, progressive and, on trend in our promotions and tactics, our long-term brand strategy should always strive to stand the test of time.

In other words, don't ignore the Yuccies; but don't get so tied to them brand-wise that you sink alongside them when the next trend bubble rises a few years from now.

Here are a few brands that have founds ways to appeal to the trendsetting culture through innovative products, services and business models, and have built branding solutions that I believe will last through trendy times—whether or not things get yucky for the Yuccies in 10 years.

-Instantly Popular Design (Beats, Nike, Apple, Method, Target)

-Change the Category (Uber, Nest, Airbnb, Chobani, Tesla)

-Usability (Amazon, Southwest, Trader Joe's, Zappo's)

-Personality (Old Spice, Hotels.com, Levi's, Sam Adams)

-Foster Participation (Yelp, Etsy, Groupon)