Our branding predictions for 2021

A new year typically heralds in a renewed feeling of hope and optimism - and let’s face it, after the year we’ve had, we're probably needing that more than ever.

For the businesses and brands who have had their plans reshaped by the global pandemic, it's an opportunity to leverage this fresh new outlook, to reshape their narrative to better fit the mood for change.

There’s no doubt that 2021 will require a great deal more leadership and focus, pulling on more strength than we could have imagined and that’s where strong branding can help.

Here are 5 trends that we expect to dominate branding conversations this year.

Employee branding takes centre-stage.

With physically-disparate teams set to become the norm for offices around the world, business will seek to close the gap between internal and external brand narratives and authorship.

The impact of this strong employee branding has the potential to generate exponential return value for businesses and we expect to see more brands refining, revising and renewing their brand purpose, mission statements and brand visions this year and communicating this with employees in new and exciting ways.

Conscientious consumerism

Consumers are much more likely to be cautious about their purchase choices as they await the implications of a global vaccine, travel restrictions and the resulting impact on our economic recovery and job security. Coupled with a stronger environmental awareness, this uncertainty may result in increased selectivity and conservatism from consumers, as they actively rationalise their purchasing decisions in line with the true needs, desires and values. For brands and businesses, it will mean a greater emphasis on purpose-led and value-based brand messaging in their future.

The battle for trust

With Google joining Firefox and Safari in phasing out 3rd party cookies by 2022, savvy businesses and brands will focus this year on their customer acquisition and retention strategies to ensure customer loyalty is not only retained, but also continually worthy of being earned. Privacy, security and transparency will become more salient themes in brand communications as consumers become more sensitive to how their data is being used and we’ll see a great deal more noise from the tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple as they race to secure top of mind awareness around “trust" .

Luxury at home

As much as we’d love to travel abroad this year, sadly, it looks like many of us are going to be grounded for a little while. This doesn’t stop us from dreaming and yearning for a little bit of luxury! For those who’ve maintained a consistent working (from home) rhythm over the course of 2020, the forced saving-measures they've incurred will likely manifest in greater spending splurges this year. To take advantage of this phenomenon, more and more fashion and retail brands will elevate their offering to meet the desire for luxuriant home living to satisfy our 5-star resort cravings. A greater collaboration between luxury brands and more accessible retail chains will also become more prevalent and eCommerce will expand to eLuxe experiences with high-end food and entertainment services continuing to cater for smaller and intimate groups within or in close proximity to home.

More vocal brand communities

The brands that won the most approval from the people in 2020 were the ones that quickly understood their broader social role in the pandemic. Inversely, brands that exploited people’s sensitivities on hot-topic issues such as Black Lives Matter were quickly called to account at a speed and ferocity that we have never seen before. Brand communities are finding their voice and they are using it to shape the world they want to see. The implications for brands this year is to develop a greater awareness of their customer segments and the issues that matter to them. What they do with that information may challenge their ideas, test their resolve or hopefully, ingratiate them with their communities in new and exciting ways.

Businesses that are able to successfully embrace this global consumer awareness for a greater sense of connection, comfort and conscientiousness in the brands they choose, will be the biggest winners for 2021. Will you be among them?

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