7 creative trends influencing content marketers in 2021

By Katherine Scarrow

The Globe and Mail

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


As the business world continues to adapt to political and pandemic pressures, content marketers have to shift their strategies and communications on a dime to stay relevant.

Here are some of the biggest creative, cultural, and societal trends to watch:

Screen time will likely continue, forcing marketers to think creatively about virtual, indoor, and outdoor spaces.
Screen time will likely continue, forcing marketers to think creatively about virtual, indoor, and outdoor spaces.

1. Rebel against perfection.

After decades of polished imagery and manufactured celebrity, people are craving a sense of raw imperfection.

We’ve been building to this for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely fast-tracked a cultural shift. Spearheaded by Gen Z, this trend is all about personality. Marketing needs to be genuine to this moment. It’s about meeting your audience where they are — not just on the right platform, but in the same headspace.

2. Screen time on overdrive.

As their popularity and influence continue to grow, virtual worlds will likely continue to transform our society. Today’s gaming platforms offer profoundly meaningful experiences and new economic opportunities. For marketers, they’re rich terrain for exploration, offering unexpected ways to create and distribute content and connect with new audiences.

3. Reimagining spaces.

Over the past 12 months, we’ve collectively experienced spatial displacement and how our world will look in the context of indoor and outdoor spaces continues to evolve. Space has direct power to influence our behaviours, needs, and wants, and ultimately dictates how we adapt our businesses for our target markets.

4. Collaboration at every level.

Around the world, people are coming together in unprecedented ways. We’re seeing grassroots initiatives like community refrigerators and other mutual aid. On an international scale, pharmaceutical companies worked together to develop COVID-19 vaccines in record time.

The future calls for messages of unity, and marketers have an important role to play. How can we use our platforms to bring people together?

5. Hitting the wall.

Mental health awareness boomed in 2020, and brands continue to bring attention to mindfulness in their products and services. But it’s not enough to use the word “mindful” in marketing material. Successful companies understand the complex challenges facing new generations and must provide them with accessible, tailored, and applicable solutions that enhance wellbeing.

6. Financial ch-ch-ch-changes.

Habits learned during the pandemic could inform a lifetime of financial behaviours. It’s important to be sensitive to your audience’s burdens and potential concerns in your communications and content marketing strategies.

7. Cautiously optimistic.

We’re at a historic point of tension. Our current landscape presents many similarities to those of the Roaring Twenties: Optimism toward shedding the pandemic lifestyle and living in future abundance, and cautiousness knowing there are still many economic, social, and political issues that need to be solved.

Creative lead Monica Bialobrzeski and interactive design lead Jeanine Brito contributed to this post.

About Katherine Scarrow

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