Brands: take a break from trend content

Get back to brand basics

Jack Forge / Midjourney

No one cared if your brand thought the dress was blue or gold.

Don’t get me wrong—I remember our whole social department giggling, brainstorming wacky ideas for our clients. We must’ve sounded insane. I couldn’t tell you what we posted, if anything, but I know in that moment, we were positive the best use of our collective time was brainstorming blue or gold dress ideas for our brands.

*dramatic movie voice* we were wrong.

So many trends, memes, and movements are wild distractions for brands. Good for cheap engagement, bad for making anyone care about your brand.

Wait, what do you have against trends?!

Listen, trend content can be great, but over the last few years, I’ve seen so many brands so thirsty for engagement that they lose the plot. The content leans more meme than brand, kicking your social strategy to the curb in favor of fun.

I want you thinking brand-first. Still social-first, but brand-first. And if you think that’s boring, you’ve got no imagination and woefully misunderstand your job as a marketing and social professional.

Don’t worry, I’ll unlock your trend handcuffs at the end of this read, but for now, commit to the idea that you’ll make better content if you fully punt trends.

You need to love your brand a whole lot more

We have the best jobs in the world. We’re paid to be creative! We get to make content for a living! Yeah, it’s for brands, but that’s the job! And it’s a good one.

As a social media manager / strategist / creative / whatever your title, I want you to intimately understand your product & know how to champion it. At a moment’s notice, you should be able to explain:

  • Your brand’s key selling points

  • Why people love your brand

  • What people dislike about your brand

  • How people use your product

  • The consumer journey to buy your product

That’s where your brainstorming should focus. Not on ~the culture~ or what’s happening in social or the latest meme format. I want you thinking on original content ideas without those crutches. They’re distractions. They immediately pull the potency of your brand.

I’ll stress again—I’m not telling you to be boring! If you think it’s boring making content for your brand without relying on trends and memes, that’s a you problem!

My challenge to you

I’m a big believer in volume-based brainstorming. If your content calendar’s full of your first ideas, you’re not generating enough ideas.

I want you to sit down, put the phone away, and do some thinking.

  • Write 25 ways people use your product

  • Then write 4 content ideas for each of those use cases

  • Use zero trends or memes in those content ideas

It’s ultra simple, but an often skipped style of brainstorming. We get caught up in seasonal briefs. We try to imagine the visual and copy before we’ve even come up with the idea. We fill out content calendars instead of generating concepts. I know you’re a seasoned social pro, but get in the habit of step-by-stepping.

Okay, now you can sprinkle in some trends.

Listen, I was never gonna fully ban you from trends. Now that you’ve got a bunch of original content ideas, feel free to season them with trends, or generate new ideas that are more trend based. I just don’t want your whole strategy based on memes and trends. Don’t eat the peanut butter off the spoon, spread it on whole wheat for a more nutritious meal.