Tis the season to be merry.

 It’s also the season for predicting what the next year will bring.

You can’t escape them. Like a creepy version of Santa Claus entering through the chimney, the 2023 trends will land in your inbox, your feeds and your screens – even though you didn’t leave a glass of milk and cookies out.

I might sound cynical but when it comes to trends, maybe we need new traditions. 

Jennifer Fischer

First, most trends articles offer the same observations. It’s tough to bring a fresh perspective, when everyone else has been exposed to the same data and news cycles. Second, predictions can be hit or miss but either way, they don’t get you ready for the year ahead because they are passive. They don’t answer the “so what?” question. Last, most trends articles are dead boring to read. How will boredom help us to be merry? 

So this year, instead of trying to read the future in my metaphorical crystal ball, here are 5 things to ponder upon (and questions to answer) to get your brands ready for 2023. 

#1 Make your brand accessible to all

We’ve built the world (and our brands) for a stereotypical “able” person. 

Unfortunately, this idealised individual is make-believe (and not even like Santa as believing in Santa is likely harmless). 

Because of this, we’ve made our world harder to live in for innumerable people. 

The World Health Organisation says that 15% of the world’s population (over 1 billion people) are experiencing disability. And that’s not including the fact that over half of us need some kind of vision aid. Or that some of us, despite the privilege of having two working hands still don’t manage to open bottles of water on their own.

The question to get your brand ready for 2023: 

 How can we make our products and experiences accessible to all? 

#2 Think delight, not just pain points

We are all guilty of focusing on problems. We work on filling gaps, solving pain points, smoothing hurdles. But when it comes to customer experience, we need to focus more on delivering delight. Again, it’s like Christmas. Do you want a festive season that is painless and without hassle? Yes.  (Especially if it means not having to talk to your racist second cousin.)

But would you go through all the work, effort, expense of organising all these festivities unless it brought you moments of surprise, fun and genuine joy? Like the moment when you watch kids’ eyes light up when they open a present (just before they decide to trade it with their cousins’).  

The question to get your brand ready for 2023: 

How can your brand own more moments of delight across its experience?

#3 Engage in values-based marketing

Yes, values, not value. 

Now more than ever, customers care about how brands connect with their beliefs and ethics. This is more than an opportunity to sell. It’s a chance for brand owners to reconcile some of their own cognitive dissonance. 

Commercial success didn’t always go hand in hand with what was right for the environment or what made the world a better place. 

We have the chance to rethink, not just our brand narratives but more tangibly how we connect profit with purpose.

Santa can be all about commercialism or it can be a symbol of kindness, togetherness and giving. It’s up to us. 

The question to get your brand ready for 2023: 

How can your brand transform its business model to embed meaning and values?

#4 Identify communities to tap into

Since the pandemic, people have made more efforts to find their tribes. Whether they play Dungeon and Dragons at the local cafe, they sing karaoke at a hip club, they find like-minded Genshin players on Discord, or they do yoga at full moon, people have committed to finding their communities. 

To truly connect, brands need to understand the codes, customs and language of each tribe. But even before that, they must know which communities they want to connect with. Do you want to connect with the elves? The reindeers? Or the gingerbread men and women? 

The question to get your brand ready for 2023: 

Who are your people and how can you connect with them meaningfully? 

#5 Make trust the ultimate currency

Fake news. Wars. Pandemics. Deepfakes. Inflation. Social media meltdowns. This has been our past 12 months and the New York Times recently announced that the word of the year is “Uncertainty”. 

In this context, more than ever, trust matters.  It’s not enough anymore to be a big name. It’s time to relook at the entire journey, at all our behaviours. Data privacy for one. But also transparency around ESG activities. Even the quality, stability of online experiences. Customer service responses. Origin of raw materials. All of this can undermine or contribute to a trusted relationship.

Just imagine: would you trust Santa if after writing your letter to him to ask for a LEGO Hogwarts set, it sent you a cheap knock off? And to boot, it kept sending you offers for stuff you didn’t even want. 

The question to get your brand ready for 2023: 

What are your blind spots that could create a breakdown in trust and how can you fix them?

So here you go, I stretched the festive similes, metaphors and analogies till the end, I’ll admit more or less successfully. But maybe the suspense of how those would turn out is what kept you reading till the end. 

A last word, to remind you to write your letter to Santa this year. It’s good for your health. No, really. 

Scientists have proven that feeling awe and wonder improves our immune system…and flu season is just starting.