How Branding Strategies Have Evolved Over the Past Decade

Learn how the influence of digital media and new prevalent spending patterns have changed the priorities and trends in brand strategies over the years.

Brand Design
May 22, 2024

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Branding strategies from 10 years ago are certainly not the same as what we see today. In this article, we are going to discuss its evolution, and how this shift has impacted how brands advertise in today’s world.

Read on to learn why consumers prefer emotional connection from a brand over customer satisfaction.

When you think about the evolution of branding strategies over the past 10 years, you’ll probably be surprised at how much has actually changed. From the start of social media advertising to the rise of eCommerce, businesses have experienced a vast digital marketing landscape over the past decade.

The truth is, the changes we have seen over the past 10 years are just the tip of the iceberg. Bigger and better opportunities are coming our way, and it’s vital for us as marketers to adapt to allow our brands to succeed.


The dawn of social media advertising

For many businesses, 2011 was the start of social media advertising. Brand strategies started to adapt to this mainstream channel. Social, in turn, allowed companies to cultivate their brand voice, participate in active social listening, and gain more knowledge of their audience through additional metrics never seen before.

During this time, brands were starting to ask themselves ‘who will take over social media’ as social media strategies started to grow, from creating brand-specific Facebook pages to measuring performance.

As GlobalCom PR Network expresses in their 2011 article, 2011: Social and Budgets, “Businesses are torn over whether the best strategy is to manage social media through their corporate communications group, marketing department or a separate social-media group.”

Furthermore, brands were not certain of how much money to put toward social media, with the ranges starting at 4% to 11% of their advertising budget. Now, the social media budgets expand constantly, with an annual growth rate of 17%.

With the growth of social media, we also saw the rise of mobile marketing. As consumers started to switch to smartphones, companies embraced this trend by coming out with branded apps and mobile-friendly versions of their sites to capitalize on this opportunity.

We saw the rise of trending videos gain quick popularity—removing themselves from the quantity over quality mindset. Brands started to see that quality content resulted in more engagement from their audience—with more engagement came more brand awareness. The increase of brand awareness brought more traffic to the website and pushed more consumers into the marketing funnel—growing a trusted community of followers.

The push for unified brand

As years passed, we saw the tremendous rise of mobile marketing, and companies would use this to their advantage by easily and effectively pushing a consistent message to the consumer.

With social media still rising, companies shifted brand strategies to be more cohesive across all advertising channels. From Facebook to print, businesses pushed a consistent brand message, even slowly including social handles to every piece of media.

Innovations in branding strategies started to appear around 2012, like sponsored content and hashtag campaigns. Branded content gave companies the push to be easily recognizable as consumers scrolled through their feed.

Thanks to the insights from social listening tools, hashtags started to appear in social media posts to gain more visibility and allow consumers to find them easily when searched—further allowing a more unified message.

Now, consumers use social media as the dominant way to communicate with a brand. By adding a business’ social handle or branded hashtag to a post, companies are instantly notified and can communicate with the consumer in real-time, whether it’s positive or negative. This instant engagement allows brands to have a consistent voice and tone when interacting with their audience.

Adding the human element in marketing

Companies started to focus on the individual customer more within the digital realm. With targeting improvements, brands could be more personalized in their ad efforts—allowing brands to become more human and less robotic. Businesses started to add the consumer into their branded strategies by providing localized content and embracing the customer experience model.

The beginning of the true social media influencer came into play around 2015, furthering the push of the human element within advertising. It became the norm for a company to push awareness over a sales campaign to persuade the consumer.

In 2016, influencer marketing was a $1.7 billion business, but it rose to $9.7 billion by 2020. Branding strategies started to shift to human emotion, connecting with the audience rather than selling an item.

The growth of big data also allowed the start of predictive analytics, behavioral marketing, and web personalization. Companies could now use this information to further push the personalization of their brand strategies. Personalization gives companies the ability to learn more about the consumer and how to target them within their ad efforts.

Companies like Iress sought to bring in a fresh look and eye-catching brand image. With a revamped logo and a website redesign, the company has brought in pops of color and striking geometric shapes to stay on-trend and stand out in the consumer’s social media feed.


Influencer Marketing Hub

New brand image and voice

With the advertising world ever-changing, the brand itself had to change as well. To be top of mind, we saw businesses revamp their brand image and voice to reflect the changes happening digitally. Like mentioned before, businesses started to lean into the human element. But, how does a brand do this? Companies had to change their tone, their image, and for some, their complete identity.

Social media brought fresher elements and more eye-catching graphics. Companies even changed instantly recognizable logos to be adaptable on all platforms. When you look at the websites and social channels of major brands like Coca-Cola and Nike, you'll see different styles of logos on each platform to maintain a consistent, clean look and eliminate clutter.


The demand for transparency

With the revamp of brands, consumers began demanding greater transparency as advertising slowly became more apparent in their daily lives. People want to know the brand and have a sincere message sent their way when interacting.

With brands being more open with their company values, subjects like inclusivity and diversity are bigger than ever in 2021. A recent study found that—55% of shoppers would switch if a retailer does not take responsibility for its own negative inclusion and diversity incidents. Consumers want to support brands that support the same beliefs and causes that they do.

Emotional connection over customer satisfaction

Now, online advertising is more important than ever to companies. With people staying at home, brands had to change their branding strategy to connect to the consumer. Businesses need to know their purpose, like why they exist and whom they serve to excel. From donating merchandise to helping the local community, companies are now pushing their message of togetherness.

Human connections are still on the rise, with brands building authentic relationships with their consumers. Influencers are bigger than ever. With customer-sourced content, companies can push branding strategies that now focus on the emotional connection over customer satisfaction metrics. Why? Because emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers.

The rise of e-commerce

As a result of staying at home, consumers are purchasing from home more than ever before. With groceries, clothes, and furniture just a click away, retailers are focusing on their websites and mobile apps.

They need to make sure the purchasing experience for the consumer is at its peak. However, the marketing strategy shouldn’t end there. Once the package arrives, the customer should see the cohesive branding strategy continue from digital marketing efforts. Branded boxes make your orders stand out and put your logo in front of anyone who sees the box.

Order fulfillment, delivery, opening an undamaged box with the right products, and seeking support with a product can all still happen. Many brands prioritize these touchpoints because they boost claims around quality service, feeling like family, and reminding the consumer of the human connection mentioned before.


As the world changes, so do branding strategies. Even over the past decade, good businesses have adapted to the new life of marketing in the digital realm and honing in on their consumers’ needs and wants. The marketing world is exciting and ever-changing. Looking to the future, marketers should focus on each generation to see what they truly care about and what resonates with them.

By building unique social media strategies based on each generation and their distinctive habits, businesses could see an increase in social presence and eCommerce performance. Let’s see what the next decade brings.

Discover an array of captivating voices and expert insights as our guest writers grace the pages of the Manypixels blog. From seasoned industry veterans to emerging talents, their thought-provoking articles will inspire and inform, enriching your reading experience.

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