5 Brand Trends To Watch In 2013

The future of branding is as "hyperlocal" as ever, hat tip as always to Marian Salzman. Hyperlocal means that the brand seems rooted in a very particular place and time, and precisely because of that its appeal crosses global boundaries.

One of the main things to understand about hyperlocal global brands is that even talking about them is not politically correct. That's because they are heavily rooted in deeply personal categories like race, culture, nationality, gender, and so on. But that is exactly why they work today - in a politically correct world, they are raw and real.

Oddly however, despite the fact that the brand can offend one often doesn't really understand much of what the story is about. You aren't from that hyperlocal place after all. But that's OK - you do get the basic idea.

What this means overall: Identity is very much top of mind now, both in the sense of "reclaiming" what is old and in the sense of "reinventing" categories so that anyone can shop for the kind of self they want.

1. "Dispossessed Women Talk Back"

You can read about M.I.A. on Wikipedia; she is an English singer of Tamil heritage (India). Vaguely she's the disempowered, impoverished young woman talking back, speaking out, owning her destiny and insisting on FREEDOM. Check out her videos on YouTube, especially Born Free (warning: graphic), Bad Girls, Paper Planes, and of course Galang.

2. "Post-Colonial Adopted Whiteness"

Russell Peters is the prototype of this trend. He is a Canadian comedian of Indian descent who's spent a lot of time thinking about identity in the context of race, culture and country. Great clips are available on YouTube including the "Green Card Tour 2011."

3. "ex-Hasidim Cross Over"

No lasting breakout stars yet, but see Matisyahu, the Jewish musician best known for his reggae Hasid persona and the song "One Day," later re-recorded by the Yeshiva University a cappella group the Maccabeats. Also see Deborah Feldman, author of Unorthodox.  And Pearl Perry Reich, who is part of the reality show Shunned, not yet on TV. Also see "Chassidim Go To Hollywood."

4. "White Trash"

Exhibits A and B: "Winter's Bone" and "Honey Boo Boo." I also count the Kardashians in this category despite their Armenian heritage.

5. "Fat and Proud"

See: Adele and on the cover of Vogue, Lady Gaga's "body revolution", the Dove "Campaign for Real Beauty," and the TV anchor who gave a hate mailer a piece of her mind.