Are you obsessed with plants? Probably.
Greenery is having a major moment and there’s good news even if you don’t have much of a green thumb: anyone can get in on it when it comes to visual marketing.
Below is a look at the trend, as well as how you can use super cool leafy content for all your touchpoints, no gardening required.
New industry trends arise constantly. Sometimes they manifest as backlash to previous ones, and periodically, they’re a progression of recent fads. Either way, you know something officially reaches “it” status when you start seeing it pop up everywhere.
But trying to determine how trends emerge can be an exercise in futility: there’s often no rime or reason to their existence. For example, ruffle-hemmed denim is hugely in fashion right now. Why? Who knows. However, certain inclinations infiltrate our collective psyche based on that moment in time’s societal climate. See: mini skirts in the 60s.
What comes to mind more recently is the explosion of millennial pink. It has permeated top Instagram accounts by brands and eclipsed most website trends. How this occurred is still debatable, but I’m sure we’ll find out when looking back twenty years from now. Although here’s a good place to start.
When putting trends like that light baby pink hue under the microscope, it’s impossible not to notice that they seep into every single visual marketing touchpoint by default, thanks to the brands that claim them. In the end, some of these fads become larger than life. And social media, which has enabled our connectedness, has amplified how quickly and blatantly trends reach ubiquity.
While the dusty rose moment is still alive and kicking, another major trend has become almost just as omnipresent. Drumroll, please… PLANTS! Unless you’re a frozen caveman who’s just thawed from having been preserved since prehistoric times, you’ve certainly bore witness to the rise of this vegetation craze. It’s hard to say when things began shifting, but garden pictures weren’t pervasive as recently as two years ago. Then suddenly, plants were everywhere. What the what?
I was walking through the streets of SoHo the other day when I looked over to my right and there they were: life-size cardboard cutouts of banana leaves glued onto a retailer’s merchandising windows. And I’m not talking about florals for spring here. It seems silly to think that horticulture has become all the rage, but you know something’s reached unprecedented of-the-moment peaks when a clothing brand is affixing paper leaves to its windows.
Identifying the exact point in time when things started veering towards greenery is a head-scratcher. However, my hunch is that its propagation is related to the fact that we’re now increasingly communicating through visuals. With platforms like Instagram coming to dictate photography trends, lush flora and fauna is something we’ve gotten used to seeing from high profile influencers being whisked to exotic locations and creating magical photo ops with the local shrubbery.
Riddle me this: what is more photogenic than plants? Perhaps a really beautiful human posing with plants in a seemingly candid fashion.
Power Instagrammers have a keen eye for image composition, so the fact that new visual trends emerge because of them is a no-brainer. Not only do they have enormous reach, but there’s also that faux accessibility factor that allows their photos to resonate with the masses. We’re no longer living in an era where a group of fashion elites or high profile marketers are the sole dictators of trends. This could have never happened pre-social media.
The fact that something as banal as flora has emerged as one of the most prominent content trends in just a short couple of years is a testament to the power of visuals — and social. For example, the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel leaf print Martinique wallpaper (which also adorns the walls of über storied fashun NYC hangout Indochine) experienced a renaissance not so long ago after it popped up in photos being shared by influential tastemakers online.
Companies like The Sill and Sprout Home have risen to cult status levels. Instagram accounts such as @leafandclay, @succulove and @plantsonpink — among many others of their breed — have either over or close to 100k followers each. The Jungalow could certainly be declared an official movement. There are countless plant-related hashtags on the ‘Gram, each boasting thousands and even millions of posts associated to them. Bergdorf Goodman even made the jungle an integral part of their legendary holiday windows this past Christmas. Also: cake, anyone?
As a smart marketer, you’re likely asking yourself how to make use of this information? To stay relevant and properly speak to your millennial target market, you have to get on board with these en vogue pockets of culture. You wouldn’t be doing your job if not.
Below are 6 ways in which you can incorporate flora into your content to service all of your visual touchpoints. Gotta stay on top of those trends, Pantone green included.
1. Use Them in Product Lookbooks or Flat Lays
As we’ve witnessed in the past few years, plants make excellent props as beautiful decor elements for product shoots. Whether you’re planning on using the images for social posts, digital ads, or in print, adding some greenery goodness can really kick things up a notch by breaking up the monotony, as well as the salesy factor associated to showcasing merch. Not only is it a great way to jazz up the composition of an image, but it’ll also defer from the fact that you’re promoting something.
Take this killer visual from Revolve, for example. It has super cute items in it, but the leafy background elevates the visual while making the products even more appealing. Whether the image is from a physical lookbook or used solely online, it serves its purpose and then some.
2. Shoot in Nature
Using vegetation in its natural habitat as a full-on backdrop for your lookbook is probably the aesthetic’s holy grail. If you really want to set the verdure tone, make like swimwear brand Zulu and Zephyr and go into the wild.
3. Include Plants in Your Lifestyle Shots
Running lifestyle images that include your products on every one of your visual touchpoints has proven to work way more effectively than run-of-the-mill studio shots. To accurately display those scenes, add a lovely succulent to the mix. It can complete the scenario and enable your consumers to envision themselves in it.
This is basically them at the breakfast table with Bose and their cute little green friend.
4. Send Influencers to Lush Tropical Places
If you want to acquire some super high quality content to repurpose on all of your visual touchpoints without spending upwards of what a professional commercial shoot would set you back for, influencer destination trips could be your answer. Just remember how tricky this can be to execute! Follow our best practices to ensure a successful activation.
The lovely Sara from @collagevintage was recently commissioned to do exactly that for Aussie label @faithfullthebrand. Talk about a treasure trove of spectacular visuals for the company to use on their own channels, as well as on the web and for other marketing purposes.
5. Decorate Your Store Windows
Whether you’re a restaurant or have brick-and-mortar shops, sprinkling your window displays with some leafy friends will not only show that you’re with it, but will also lend your space some serenity, as plants tend to do. And if you have to cut out some cardboard banana leaves, then so be it! (See previously referred-to SoHo stroll.)
For example, Brooklyn hot spot Llama Inn went all in(n) with plants and bordered the top of their floor-to-ceiling windows with zenitude. Ommmm.
6. Adorn Your Store or HQ Walls With Plant Art or Wallpaper
As we learned at our Community in Conversation event a few weeks ago, you want to be able to build environments that facilitate shareability. Put up artful images of vegetation on the walls, or install a fun wallpaper in a Martinique-inspired print. Your shoppers or employees will feel inspired and compelled to take pics.
J.Crew went a step further and created an entire plant wall for its Williamsburg store, which is pretty insane. And by insane we mean geniusly on trend.
After all that’s said and done, it’s tough to pinpoint where the plant trend stems from, but it’s also curiously a natural progresasion of the recent maker’s movement. The terrarium craze back then was widely associated to the hipster cliché, but those trendy kids were onto something.
Those mini vegetation incubators quickly gave way to succulent obsessions (low maintenance for the ADD generation?), which unleashed a whole army of botany enthusiasts. Seriously though, creating mini greenhouses in your own home is as artisanal as it gets. Plus it ties into the whole wellness mania.
We may have more questions than answers about the plant trend’s origins, but one certainty transpires through it all: when Pantone declares Greenery as the color of 2017, you know that a trend is as cemented in current culture as it can get.
Want to learn more about content trends and how to make them work for your brand? Get in touch today.