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Capitalize on Trends But Stand Firm on Your Identity The goal of capitalizing on hot trends is to strengthen your brand.

By Joy Chen Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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It's a common situation: A new trend sweeps across an entire industry and individual companies are faced with having to decide whether it merits changing elements of their business in order to keep up with the shifting tide.

But how can companies decide which trends are worth following and how much should they be prepared to adapt without losing the qualities that make them stand out from competitors? A good place to start is to thoroughly examine whether and how these trends would strengthen the brand and whether adaptation is essential to maintaining relevance.

Weigh each new trend carefully.

Although it may not be clear how trends will affect your business when they first arise, it's still important to be aware of and evaluate each one. After all, you don't want to miss an opportunity to make a potentially positive change. You should start by looking at the scope of each trend: does it affect your overall industry, or only a handful of your competitors? Has it taken root in other industries as well? If so, you should consider how your business can leverage it for maximum benefit. For example, the shift from traditional to digital marketing has had an especially wide range of influence, and has swept across a variety of industries for at least a decade.

Related: 5 Ways to Spot and Capitalize on Trends

The businesses that adopted it have benefited from being on the forefront of what is now a near-universally adopted practice. Once you do decide that a trend is big enough or relevant enough to justify a response, it becomes even more important to rearticulate the fundamental elements of your brand, even if specific offerings, products, services or messaging change.

Draw a line in the sand.

Every brand has foundational principles or ideas at the heart of its overall functions, and it's important that those remain static as a reflection of the brand identity. For example, H2O+ Beauty has evolved in many ways to help the business benefit from new trends in the 27 years since its inception, yet we have always maintained our use of water as a key ingredient in all products and our commitment to empowering women to be confident in all aspects of their life, regardless of changes enacted to products or design.

Related: The 4 Digital Trends That Are Reshaping Advertising

Underscoring these brand cornerstones is beneficial both internally and externally. As you communicate with your colleagues, reiterating these pillars can guide how you decide to change other elements of your brand to meet evolving trends. And as you present your brand to the public, this practice reinforces that your brand is dependable while also reminding customers how it stands apart from competitors reacting to the same trends.

Don't assume you already know your customer.

Understanding your customer is critical for ensuring that your brand truly connects with the public, and this only becomes more vital as you consider adapting to certain trends. But beyond merely knowing who your customers are, creating a two-way conversation with them can be invaluable as you decide which trends are worth addressing and how to make adjustments to meet those trends.

H2O+ Beauty recently held an extensive series of interviews to learn about our customers. The process revealed important information such as where they typically shop, where their principles and priorities lie, what they're looking for in skincare and how that connects to their personal sense of self. Additionally, conducting this type of research on a regular basis keeps our finger on the pulse of competitors' responses to trends and how consumers approve of (or don't approve of) their actions.

Related: 8 SEO and Social Media Trends You Need to Know About

Any possible change, no matter how minor, should be evaluated based on whether it will positively affect the brand. In order to set the stage for the greatest possible benefits, it's important to have clear and fundamental brand pillars that remain constant, no matter how new trends may affect the business. At the same time, conducting thorough external research to understand changing consumer habits will also help you decide when and how to adapt elements of your brand, whether those are products, messaging, services or other offerings. The key to longevity is to remember what you are as a brand, what you mean to your customers and how you can continue to remain relevant.

Joy Chen

Co-founder and CEO of Pure Culture Beauty

Joy is the co-founder and CEO of Pure Culture Beauty, which she developed in partnership with Victor Casale (former Chief Chemist at MAC Cosmetics and founder of CoverFX) to innovate the skincare industry and deliver a suite of products that meet consumers’ unique skin needs. Formerly, she was the Chairman and CEO of H2O+ Beauty and the CEO and Executive Board Director of Yes To. She has a strong record of driving sales and profit growth by scaling businesses, transforming retail and marketing landscapes to online and digital, and building innovative brands. She remains an active board member for nonprofit organizations and startup businesses. Joy received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University.

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