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Case Studies , Branding , Digital , Marketing & PR , Events , Public Relations , Video , Creative , B2G , Associations , CX , Virtual Events , Government

2021 Marketing & Branding Predictions: 12 Trends That Will Evolve Post-Pandemic

Layla Masri

The team at Yes& shares key advice for how to make the most of 2021, focusing on trends for resiliency, creativity, customer-obsession, and adaptability.

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year, upending the way we shop, network, learn, work, collaborate, hire, exercise...

The Pandemic (yes, it has earned its initial cap) has not so much changed things as exposed what was lurking beneath the surface. New ways of doing business have hastened change that was inevitable and, perhaps, overdue. So, transformation across the marketing arena will continue. 

What trends do we expect in 2021? We polled Yes&ers across our association, commercial, B2G, and government work for an eye-opening look at the year to come:

1. THE GOVERNMENT BRAND

Government agencies will continue to develop their brands. More and more, we are seeing government entities embrace their brand narrative, their brand voice, and their brand experience. 

"With so much on the line, agencies and departments need to reach stakeholders and the public in more meaningful and remarkable ways, and this is best delivered through a cohesive and consistent brand. 

Branding won’t stop at style guides or brand standards, but will include deeper consideration of brand meaning, promise, and value. This will help agencies be more trusted, relevant, and effective."

Josh Golden, SVP, Senior Creative Director

2. GRAPHIC DESIGN AND LOGO TRENDS

After a year that has proven tough on everyone in the world, commercial and some cause-centric messaging will be geared towards uplifting spirits and ushering in a year of hope and rebirth. Organizations will celebrate inclusivity and diversity more than ever through innovative means, such as illustrated shapes of all sizes and vibrant colors as opposed to photography. 

As we spend more and more time online, marks will be simplified or integrated within logos, with particular attention to how they are displayed in small sizes and much less emphasis placed on how they might show on billboards, TV, or other larger media.

"Attention spans are at an all-time low, and extensive content will be replaced by videos and colorful bursts in the neon realm. Since more people have adapted to ordering online, living at home, and selective TV viewing, designers and marketers will focus particular attention toward advertising through new channels: packaging, and product design."

Giuseppe Carabelli, Associate Creative Director

3. ENHANCED VIDEO CONFERENCE ENGAGEMENT

"2021’s killer app will be a technology that uses some form of Virtual Reality to upgrade the current Zoom call experience. After years of fits and starts, the virtual meeting has become a fixture of business, thanks to pandemic-induced social distancing. Now we need a way to make the virtual meeting more tolerable, probably through a simulation that allows participants to see one another in a 3D virtual environment."

Robert W. Sprague, President & CEO

4. THE EXPERIMENTATION ERA

A welcomed turning of the calendar page will usher in a year of experimentation. We’ve had to do things differently in 2020, so we’ll choose to do things differently in 2021. Organizations will be more open to questioning—to killing their darlings (even the ones that survived COVID-19!). 

“'We do it because we’ve always done it' no longer makes sense. Movies were released on TV. Voting was done by mail. Trick-or-treating was done on driveways, not doors. And a lot of it started to make sense. This spirit of experimentation—of design thinking—will carry us into 2021 and, we hope, beyond."

Josh Golden, SVP, Senior Creative Director

5. EMPATHETIC CUSTOMER INSIGHT

In 2021, brands will continue to speak out more openly about their support for certain causes, including political ones. What brands stand for matters more than ever, and just because Trump isn't in office doesn't mean brands will go back to being corporate entities without a point of view on the world.

"In addition, the marketers who invest in research—in truly understanding what the 'new normal' is for their audience and how that's relevant to their brand—will be most successful in optimizing and "future-proofing" their brand experiences across the audience journey." 

Andrew Teie, VP of Brand Strategy & Customer Experience

6. THE EVER-CHANGING EVENT

In other news, we’ll need to reinvent events. Will they be live? Will they be virtual? Hybrid? The solution is not binary. Event producers and marketers will have to explore new ways to create a new multimedia, multi-platform, and multi-venue experience. This will be an industry-wide interruption—and one that’s probably long overdue. 

"Events will not be fixed points in time. While there is still value to a 'happening,' both online and live, events will be more of a year-round journey with key touch points along the way. Also, the walls between live and virtual attendees will begin to fall away (or should), in favor of a shared experience between the ballroom and home audiences. We’re looking forward to seeing what we can create."

Josh Golden, SVP, Senior Creative Director

7. AN EXPLOSION OF GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING

"Under the Biden Administration, watch for Green New Deal types of contracts in environmental and climate change arenas. Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Interior (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and the Environmental Protection Agency will have larger roles to play and real seats at the table with this Administration."

Mike Smith, SVP Public Relations

8. HEIGHTENED, SECURE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES 

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital modernization efforts across public sector agencies and education institutions as in-person services and the teams that supported them went virtual. These initiatives will expand as organizations continue to improve their constituents’ digital experience. 

"People expect the same functionality they enjoy shopping online with Amazon, Walmart, or Target when dealing with citizen-facing agencies and education institutions. B2G marketers must show how companies that apply the right mix of people, processes, and technology can help public sector agencies scale their digital transformation projects to meet constituents’ needs in a secure manner."

Rutrell Yasin, Writer/Strategist

9. WHAT’S ON YOUR NETWORK? THE NEED FOR VISIBILITY 

If they didn’t realize it prior to the move to mass telework, public sector IT managers now know they must be aware of all the apps, systems, and network protocols exposed to the outside world. The attack surfaces that adversaries can exploit to gain network access have grown exponentially. 

"IT cybersecurity teams must know who and what devices are on their networks, whether they belong there, and what they are doing, along with where mission critical data resides and how it is protected. As agencies grapple with these issues, managers will need to know what companies can give them the level of visibility required to effectively monitor, defend against, and rapidly respond to cyber incidents."

Rutrell Yasin, Writer/Strategist

10. WATCH THE HILL

With new presidential administrations come changes. Changes to priorities, changes to personnel. One thing that remains constant, no matter who is in charge, is the $90+ billion technology budget—allotted to agencies to advance their IT systems. 

"It will be important for B2G technology marketers to keep pace with how the new administration will spend those funds and how those priorities will change. Will modernization and digital transformation remain the focus? Are remote work and virtual collaboration capabilities here to stay? Is workforce automation really the focus? The ability for B2G marketers to remain agile, flexible, and strategic with their efforts will be key to success."

– AJ Guenther, VP Public Relations

11. COMMUNITY CONNECTEDNESS

Networking in the B2G community has always been paramount to success. And as we continue to work remotely, opportunities for valuable virtual networking, supplemented with peer-to-peer information sharing, will be more important than ever. Whether offered by your own company or by a third party that provides an opportunity for more advanced learning, a commitment to relationship building will be critical to both professional and personal growth. 

"Rather than feeling ‘stuck’ at home, with a little effort and creativity, not only can you grow your own personal brand but you also can personalize the experience people have of your organization's brand in the community. With that, you may realize more opportunities to meet-and-greet than ever before!"

Carmel McDonagh, VP Account Management, B2G

12. EARNED MEDIA & PR TRENDS

"Virtual press conferences with digital video, and audio capability are allowing Yes& clients to reach stakeholders in new and exciting ways. PR teams must be equipped to offer b-roll, digital imagery, and sound files along with exciting graphics to keep the press conference engaging.

We also expect a major merger in the media contact management software industry and media monitoring (joining Cision and Meltwater) and predict automation tools will continue to drive media relationship management (think MRM akin to CRM)."

Mike Smith, SVP Public Relations

It goes without saying that Yes& is ready to help you make the most of 2021 and this brave new branding and marketing world. Contact us and let’s get to work! 

Yes& is the Washington, DC-based marketing agency that brings commercial, association, and government clients the unlimited power of “&” – using a full suite of branding, digital, event, marketing, public relations, and creative capabilities to deliver meaningful and measurable results.

Let’s talk about what the power of "&" can do for you.

Layla Masri
Layla Masri
VP, Digital Innovation