“Not everything needs to be a trend to be important. For example, a good culture is still a must-win battle for all companies in the coming year,” says CEO Simon Hertz.
At the beginning of a new year, LinkedIn and industry media are flooded with trend reports and predictions in the industry, including in marketing. The industry is notoriously known for being trend-obsessed, quick to adopt the latest technology, and focused on constantly innovating.
For Simon Hertz, it’s not a success criteria to jump on new trends in itself. What about the strategy? On the other hand, it’s vital for a company to stay relevant and keep up with the times.
So, “to trend or not to trend“? And what will be big in 2024? We asked our own CEO Simon Hertz, who has over 25 years of experience in the industry.
“I wouldn’t say that trends are overrated. However, I believe there might be an over-focus on trends, leading to a tendency to make trends ‘too important’.
Trends should never trump strategy. Conversely, the strategy should never be so rigid or narrow-minded that it doesn’t allow for new initiatives.
I believe they should go hand in hand. It shouldn’t be either/or. But both,” he says, continuing:
“There can also quickly be a lemming effect in trends. For example, if you just jump on TikTok because all your competitors are already there, that’s not enough in itself. You’re back to the central starting point where, as a brand, you should rather focus on your strategy and what you want to communicate than where.”
A good rule of thumb is that when a trend emerges, it’s not about “just” jumping on the trend. Instead, it’s about engaging with it and possibly contributing to and developing the “conversation”.
Just like it’s not about repeating what someone else has said before you in a meeting, but rather bringing a new point or a new perspective to the table. If you have something relevant to say of course. Otherwise, most will agree it’s best to keep your mouth shut.
A good example of an organization that succeeded in contributing to a conversation last year is WWF, which received worldwide attention by jumping on Twitter’s (and the Twitter bird’s) death to appeal for the protection of animals. This was a completely different and unique take on an existing conversation, which created a whole new conversation, and it was very well done.
“I think culture should be an area that companies focus on in 2024 – it has always been an important area, in reality. But in today’s world, even the best strategies are challenged by changing times and a world in great transformation.
When the pace is fast, the future is unpredictable, and everything is up in the air, it’s important to find your constant. And here, culture is the anchor,” he says. A study conducted by McKinsey in 2018 showed that 70% of all corporate transformations fail. And that 70% of the failed transformations fail because the culture typically isn’t ready for it.
“Marketing departments are also looking into a year where they need to adapt to new technological opportunities, new corporate strategic initiatives, and probably also new targets, which are potentially as ambitious as last year. Even though there’s no additional budget due to uncertain times. This creates a need to think differently and find ways to work smarter rather than harder. The transformation demands a lot from the team and their skills. And thus, high demands on the culture,” he explains.
“Culture has also been an important topic and focus area for Sunrise’s own organization over the years. And it will be again in 2024.
We have, among other things, been undergoing a major transformation internally, which has involved bringing the specialist departments at Sunrise together into one team. What used to be called a Social Media department, a digital department, and a CRM department now falls under the collective term Activation.
The transformation of our organizational setup has required hard work. Not just in Activation, but by the whole organization. And it has required both internal education across business areas, product development, process descriptions, and more,” he says:
“But for it to really succeed in practice, it first and foremost required a cultural shift. We really had to live up to our values where respect, responsibility, initiative, and curiosity are key drivers. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way in a short time. And we are receiving positive feedback from our clients, who see the effect of a more homogeneous approach to tasks and solutions.”
Simon points out that work culture in general, not just in marketing, is one of the major discussion topics worldwide in 2024 – partly due to a new generation entering the workforce and an intensification of online meetings and remote work, accelerated by COVID-19.
“Everything is up in the air in these times, and it can be difficult for companies to figure out which legs to stand on in terms of work culture,” he says, concluding:
“We ourselves have spent a lot of effort on sensing who we are as an agency and how and what our culture is defined by and vice versa. It has worked really well to discuss it and get it formulated into a format. Then we have a direction and some guidelines to relate to – regardless of trends and no trends.”
“IT’S EASIER TO CHANGE A STRATEGY THAN IT IS TO CHANGE A CULTURE.”James Heskett