Bareknuckle’s Insights on Adobe 2018 Digital Trends Report

There’s nothing the Bareknuckle team loves more than putting other small businesses at the forefront of consumer trends. Adobe released their 2018 Digital Trends report and we think it’s loaded with some good stuff. In a survey of 12,795 marketers across EMEA, Asia Pacific, and North America, professionals answered questions about marketing in today’s world. The report pretty much sums up the new era of digital marketing, how creative is taking over, and how the global market is shifting to a visual platform. We reviewed 5 key points that will help a small business focus on marketing while moving forward in 2018.

1. Ensure The Right Kind of Leadership and Culture Are In Place

Businesses that prioritize professional development and cultural expectations are more likely to enjoy a workplace culture rooted in empowerment and growth. Although making time in the workweek for education or culture strengthening activities can seem impossible, companies who take the time to develop cultural expectations never regret it.

insights on digital marketing trends 2018

At Caliber Hair & Makeup Salon, owner Tres Benzley places high expectations on his stylists to develop close professional relationships with clients. Stylists sit with first-time clients for an in-depth consultation process that goes beyond all expectations. The consultation covers client facial shape, daily routine, hair type, hair goals, expectations, and products fit for them. This level of customer service is rare in this industry, and that makes Caliber stand brightly apart from other salons in the area.

In addition to this client focus, Caliber invests in the continued education of their employees through the House of Tres Mentorship Program. Through this training program, licensed cosmetologists are educated by Tres Benzley on cutting edge color, cut, and styling techniques. Together, the focus on customer relationships and continued education fosters the right kind of culture and leadership.

2. Prioritize Design & Creativity

As the world continues to prioritize visual content, digital marketing is correct in focusing on design and creativity. Specifically, we agree that it is important to design and visually communicate a brand story for your business. According to Adobe, brands who categorized themselves as design-driven were more likely to meet their business goals.

We’d like to add that designers love taking creative liberty, and while innovative design thinking is crucial to creating fresh content, maintaining a consistent brand story can get fuzzy if you outsource designers. Hiring different designers to add to your visual brand can stretch the root of your brand far from anything you recognize. Producing a set of branding guidelines (i.e. color palette, typeface, and example graphics) will ensure your visual brand stays on track, no matter who you hire.

3. Know Your Customers. Then Delight Them With The Right Content At The Right Time.

Finding your customers is more like archery than fishing with dynamite. This point cannot be overstated. Most brands struggle to identify their audience because they try to appeal to too many people.


Instead, brands need to become client obsessed, and that’s much easier if you have a specific target audience. Full Circle Soils & Compost transformed their business once they addressed this issue. Before their rebrand, they were trying to be the yes-man of compost. They led with custom products, saying they could make “whatever you need!”. The problem with being everything to everybody is that customers didn’t know what they needed. This business model intimidated potential clients.

Once Full Circle tuned into the needs of their customers, they realized most people were casual or beginner gardeners who just wanted a natural soil option that worked. Full Circle came to us to create a brand that visually communicated this, and they increased profit by 17% in their first year.

A word of caution: the more we know about our customers, the more we flirt the line between delightful and creepy–so don’t watch them from a tree in their backyard.

4. Budget For Success

As a small business, bootstrapping and grassrooting is the norm, but technology is no longer an are brands can skimp on. Invest in technology, your employees, and the relationship between the two. Brands can no longer operate an analog system … even if you’re a one-man show. As pointed out in the Adobe article, ensuring your business has up to date technology (and your employees are proficient in this technology) is not a cost but an investment. Remove data entry-type tasks from your employee’s workload so they can focus on creative problem solving. Bottom Line: invest in people and technology that ensure the longevity of your brand.

5. Invest In Integrated Technology

2017 digital trends reportHaving a small business means there are a million decisions you’ve got to make each day, from signing with a new client to deciding which toilet paper to buy for the office, you’re doing it all. Investing in ways to automate some of those decisions will save you time and money. Integrated technology is not just for multi-million dollar businesses. It’s an investment for anyone. Whether you’re a one-man show or you’ve expanded to three cities in 2 years, software that supports the internal organization of a business clears the way for smooth(er) sailing.

Software like Qualtrics can make a big difference for small businesses.This can improve or even begin a way for small businesses to track and respond to crucial data like customer satisfaction, feedback, and overall customer experience. Companies like Coca-Cola, Disney, and Microsoft use this same software that is available to our local businesses.

6. Bonus Insight From Bareknuckle

While we agree with the list provided by Adobe, we think they missed a crucial priority in digital market: brand messaging. Writing for your business is the foundation of everything that follows, including the digital marketing. A few tips from the messaging experts here at Bareknuckle:

  • Be concise – We’re a population of skimmers, so be direct.
  • Every word counts – There are no throw away words in copywriting.
  • Be consistent – Master your brand’s voice so your audience can recognize your brand without visuals.

Knowing your brand’s voice (and what your audience expects to hear) will unify the design and messaging elements of your brand. When your brand voice is clear, even those dreaded website pop-ups can become opportunities to delight your customers. Down to Earth Gardens has a pop-up showing in the bottom right corner, tucked away, with a little gnome that says “This pop up sprouted up out of nowhere! Must have had a little help with our gardening tips. Sign up for our a-maize-ing newsletter.” It’s cute, friendly, and approachable. Nothing is screaming in your face, even the pop-up was put in a corner. This is a reflection of their entire business brand.

Need help with your brand design, storytelling or voice? learn more about Bareknuckle’s brand marketing services