Zync is now Believeco

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Brought together by Arlene Dickinson – one of Canada’s most recognized and respected business leaders— Zync joins the other original agencies Venture Play, Revolve and Brightworks as Believeco.

Along with Argyle, one of North America’s most respected engagement, communications and reputation advisory agencies and Castlemain, a leading Indigenous advisory firm, we are collectively Believeco:Partners. Believeco:Partners owns, operates and builds the foremost marketing, communications and engagement agencies in North America. Together, we offer clients the talents of more than 300 marketing and communications professionals across North America.

Together, we’ll help clients navigate the incredible pace of change—providing solutions and a culture that is good for our clients, their customers and stakeholders, our people, and our local, national and global community.

Find out more! believecopartners.com

Brad Breininger & Marko Zonta

Zync - Journal | Brand outlook for 2022.

Discussing what 2022 will mean for brands.

Brand outlook for 2022.

Welcome to the first edition of Everything is Brand in 2022, our third season!

Everything from NFTs to crypto, to the metaverse, micro-influencers and video. A lot is potentially coming up for brands and their marketing strategies. We talk about some of the things that will become bigger in 2022.  Are brands ready to navigate through these changes? How can brands be prepared for what’s coming? 

Some of the topics we cover during this episode:

  • NFTs
  • Cryptocurrency and its impact
  • The metaverse
  • Inclusive and topical marketing
  • Customer service speed expectations
  • Video
  • Micro-influencers
  • Crowdsourcing content
  • Humanizing brands
  • Social media advertising (Tik Tok)

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Recorded on January 7, 2022.


Brad Breininger: 0:00
Hi everyone and welcome to 2022 and this is the first edition of Everything is Brand for the new year. Let’s talk about what 2022 has in store. Alright, so everything from NFT’s to crypto to the metaverse to video and micro influencers, there is a lot that is potentially coming up in 2022. And you know, this is going to be really important for brands as they try to navigate their marketing and branding and communication. So let’s start with NFTs and crypto. Christian – what do you think are some of the things that you see upcoming in this new year for particularly NFT’s which have been a hot topic before but are just getting bigger and bigger as we go?

Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC: 0:55
Crypto has been a topic that we’ve been hearing about during 2021. But the whole NFT thing is something that’s starting to bloom, so to say, started as maybe an artist trend, but a bunch of brands are jumping to the bandwagon now. You’re starting to see brands like Nike, for example, creating NFT’s of their shoes, and people buying them. And with this whole Metaverse thing, you’re seeing people buying virtual real estate, which is also some sort of NFT as well, right? So it’s going to be big, and brands need to learn how to navigate through this new trend. And when I say that, I have one interesting example. Ubisoft, which is a video game company, they tried to get in this trend as well, they produce a bunch of video games. So they try to start selling cosmetics for some of them video games. There’s some NFTs. And of course, the backlash was gigantic. So it’s an interesting topic, but one that needs to be handled carefully.

Brad Breininger: 2:18
It’s interesting, I think we can probably do a whole podcast on NFT’s and we will this year for sure. But I think that the overall message that I’m hearing is that brands need to first of all, if you don’t know what an NFT is get up to speed quickly. Second of all, start to think about how this might apply to your brand and marketing and then take a look at what some of these organizations are doing. It’s kind of all over the place right now. But it’s going to become even more ingrained in the marketing plans and the brand plans going forward. Yeah.

Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC: 2:50
I just read an article, it said that we’re starting to see NFT movies and TV shows. So it’s coming and it’s hitting hard.

Brad Breininger: 3:01
Yeah. And you’ll pay for all of it with crypto, I would imagine. So I think some of us are up to speed on crypto, but that’s all going to be part of the equation as well. NFTs and crypto and the metaverse might be a little out there for a lot of folks. But you know, one of the other big things that was really big in 2021, and I think we’re just gonna see even more of it is this idea of inclusive and topical marketing, like really making sure that, that we’re marketing to all the various audiences that we have, but not this one size fits all, but really understanding all of the different audiences and also taking real things that are happening in real time and applying them directly to what’s going on in the marketing messaging. What do you guys think about that? What do you think we’re gonna see in 2022 on that?

Jeremy Linskill: 3:47
I think we’re gonna see more of it, I think it’s going to be something that brands and agencies are going to get better at being quicker to respond to things to jump on things in a timely fashion. I think it’s going to be the expectation of brands to expect that a little bit more and start to be in the moment, I think it’s a really important thing. And I think it’s, it’s some of the stuff that I think performed the best over the last year, we’re talking about the old term of things “going viral”. That’s what I think I saw a lot of in that space is when somebody was able to jump on a trending topic or something and come up with some advertising based around that. It got people talking, and I mean, ultimately, that’s what brands are looking for. Right? They want people talking about their companies, their products, their offerings. So I think we’re gonna see more and more of it.

Marko Zonta: 4:35
I was just gonna add to that I think that’s another part to that is that things are starting to become a little bit more casual. Because they need to be timely. They need to be kind of responsive to what’s going on. I think that brands are becoming a little bit more casual about it, which is great because it’s I think it actually builds a lot more of their personality and it allows brands to really kind of create a much more of a connected personality. In terms of who their audiences and really speak to that audience at that level, right, so they don’t have to be too corporate or too, I guess, refined, they can really kind of address the audience based on who they are.

Brad Breininger: 5:14
Yeah, if we, if we look at the entertainment world, there’s like this blurred line that’s happening between entertainment and marketing. And you know, a great example of that is Ryan Reynolds. I mean, he is a, primarily a movie star, but now has his own agency and is doing some of the best advertising out there right now, and particularly in 2021. But I would imagine he probably has a lot more on the slate coming up for 2022. And he’s just one representative of his whole team, but also a whole movement towards this idea of authenticity and tongue in cheek and like you said, Marko casual, and really getting away from this salesy, trying to sell people something with the virtually spotless crap, and really trying to make it feel more real and connected.

Jeremy Linskill: 6:02
Yeah. And I think it goes a long way. I think, you know, one of the other things we want to touch on today was the humanizing of brands. And I think that this leads right into that, people want to start to have a little bit more casual conversations with the brands that they’re involved in, they want to hear from them in a more casual way. And I think that you know, that all, frankly, for me stems from the whole COVID thing of being home and being on video, and everybody just being a little bit more comfortable in their own skin kind of thing. And I think we’re now – that’s translated from person to person, but I think it’s also now translating from person to brand. So, you know, I think that’s another hot topic for the next year.

Brad Breininger: 6:37
Yeah. And this idea of the facade that we all had in place between work and life, it’s like those walls have come down. And we can’t go back, I don’t think and I think that you know, what’s going to be really key to that is that that humanization, part of it is really about a little bit more vulnerability, and really seeing how people are. And it’s an interesting offset to what’s going on in the metaverse and the NFT’s and the crypto and the whole digital realm to counter program that with some of the humanization that needs to happen as well. So kind of those two things happening makes perfect sense when you think about it, because one kind of supports the other.

Jeremy Linskill: 7:20
Yeah, and I think this from there, and we can continue down this kind of rabbit hole of talking about whether we’re crowdsourcing content, or we’re talking about micro influences, which is also becoming a big thing. So now you’re getting into people that are actually passionate about products or companies and brands are jumping on board with those people and inviting them in and asking them for help in a sense of getting their message out to other customers. So I think all that is, you know, it all plays in the same sandbox, in a sense, right?

Brad Breininger: 7:48
Yeah, I mean, Jeremy just touched on something that I think is probably one of the biggest trends that we’re gonna see in 2022. And that is this idea of micro influencers and crowdsourcing content. Let’s talk a little bit about that. I mean, you know, Gabi, you you raise this idea of the micro influencers, we’ve seen a lot of these big brands, or these big celebrities that have pushed brands in the past. But more and more these kind of smaller groups are gaining momentum. And then the brands are really reaching out to them understanding that they can really hone in on their messaging and target these smaller groups with someone who’s kind of at the head of those groups. Maybe you can talk a little bit more about what you’re seeing in that area.

Gabi Gomes: 8:32
Yeah it’s about making strides in smaller areas and smaller segments, whether it be YouTubers, whether it be Instagramers, or even Tik Tok, we’re seeing that mom who has a following of you know, thousands, and a brand attaching to that group, rather than a celebrity, etc, where that authenticity factor may play into it. With the smaller groups, you’re seeing a lot more connection, a lot more authenticity. You know, there’s one in particular I follow you know, where she started, it was Costco fines Canada, she literally just started cuz she was always at Costco, and she loves Costco and everything there. But from where she started to where she’s at now, and to see the brands jumping on there. There are brands that sell into Costco and partnering up with her, that’s a natural fit. She already had that airfryer. And she just talked about it and getting that brand to then throw in a couple of air fryers for her to give away to her group that just spreads like wildfire. All of a sudden, you know, everybody who follows her on Instagram has some sort of airfryer from Costco. Anyways, that’s how that’s happening. It’s still very word of mouth, a very smaller base community. And it’s having a greater impact than let’s say, a celebrity who’s endorsing Coke or something like that, who may or may not actually be using the product. This one feels a lot more authentic.

Brad Breininger: 9:56
Yeah, it’s almost like sometimes when you see those celebrities endorsing Things you’re like, I’m sure, or I’m not sure that you know, Eva Longoria colors, her hair with L’Oreal, like she probably goes to some high end salon and gets it done. There’s always been the kind of this separation between what you’re hearing and what you actually believe. And, and I think one of the biggest issues around this whole idea of micro influencers is that it really feels like these people know what they’re talking about, and that they, they’ve actually engaged with these brands and these products on a daily basis. And so it feels like you’re getting the real inside scoop on what these people think and how they feel about it.

Gabi Gomes: 10:36
they do So case in point, the airfryer. That was actually something I reached out as silly as it is, I did reach out to her.

Jeremy Linskill: 10:43
I knew you had one.

Gabi Gomes: 10:46
No, no, I didn’t end up with the airfryer. But two people in my family ended up with an air fryer for Christmas. But anyways, most I did end up asking her and I’m like, you know, because she has been promoting this airfryer in the giveaway. I’m like, do you have one? How is it? And she went into details about cooking times for chicken and whatever. Anyways, that’s what we’re looking for. We’re talking about real people, real brands, and that connection. Because, you know, as marketers, I think we’re all a little bit jaded in that we don’t believe what comes out of brands or whatever, because that’s just how we’re conditioned, right? But these people are not, they’re basically just influencers. They’re using their product, they’re going about their daily lives, they just have a mass following because of a niche interest that they have. And we’re getting real feedback. And that I think ties into the whole crowdsourcing content thing that Sasha and I were talking about, or otherwise known as user generated content. So having those folks then develop content for the brand, whether it be them using it, whether it be them showing off their latest apparel and whatnot, that content, it goes back to that authenticity play. I think Sasha, you had an example of a company that’s doing that really well.

Sasha Codrington: 11:59
Yeah, I can think of a few, one of them being Mejuri, which is a Canadian founded jewelry brand and they started in 2015, I believe. And one of their key concepts when they started was having this group, I think they call it Mejuri club. And they invited different people in and it didn’t mean that you had a huge social media following it was just someone who fit the jewelry, they took good photos, and they would receive free products and post it on to their Instagram, their Facebook, that kind of thing. And Mejuri was able to grow quite a bit from all of these pieces of content that would be pushed out through their own platforms, as well as all of these different individuals platforms. And since then, I think, Brad, you mentioned that they’re offering discounts if you create content, and they use it on their platforms. So something that they’ve been really successful at where they’re not operating with traditional advertising, as much as some other brands are, they’re leaning on their customers – they have a lot of loyal customers who are creating beautiful imagery for them – and they’ll push that out. And that’s something that I’m seeing, not just with them, but on a broader basis as well, where a lot of the Instagram ads that I’m getting, instead of it being something that the brand themselves has produced and scripted, they’ve instead sent a product to an influencer, compensated them, and the ad is just the influencer speaking about this product that they received, what they liked about it. And it kind of blends into the rest of your feed – might be something quite similar to what you’re seeing from your friends or your family. And it’s a way that brands are able to connect a little bit more closely like you’re mentioning.

Gabi Gomes: 13:40
Another example is is American Eagle, American Eagles community with respect to user generated content of images being snapped of their clothes, etc. They openly use that display that on their apps, and I can’t tell you enough nowadays with respect to fashion, the gamut of especially in women’s fashion, body types, body images, ethnicities, etc. Seeing yourself in those images is kind of key. I don’t know that brands can basically fulfill all the requirements of like every shape and size, color, etc. in that, but the users themselves can help to fill that picture for the brand.

Brad Breininger: 14:21
Yeah, I mean, it really broadens this idea of what marketing is. And it’s less about just trying to sell, sell, sell. And a little bit more about just trying to tell tell tell. It’s making sure that people’s stories are front and center so that as they see themselves, then they start to create those connections. But I want to talk specifically about connection because we brought it up quite a few times already. But more and more especially with everything that’s going on in the world right now. Connections becoming more and more important. And I think one of the biggest areas around connection is this idea of connection speed. So when it comes to to marketing or customer service, or hearing back from a brand or an organization, that speed of connection, I think is becoming more and more important. And I think in 2022, I think people are going to expect it even more. What do you guys think?

Sasha Codrington: 15:15
Yeah, that’s something that I’m definitely seeing – just our attention span. I mentioned this in our last podcast as well, our attention span has really gone down in the past couple of years. And it’s trickled into our expectations of brands. And I’ll give an example of one that I was impressed by and one less impressed by. I ordered a new dinnerware set from a company called Fable. And a couple plates came and they were bowed on the bottom. So they shook around the table when you’re trying to eat off of them, which I wasn’t thrilled by. So I sent them an email saying, hey, a couple of these plates are defective, wondering if you can replace them. And they replied in I think four minutes with a shipping code that they were sending me replacement plates. And that was something that I was very impressed by. I mean, that kind of speed is I think, unbelievable. I’m not expecting that from everyone. But it was something that left an impression, it was a real person sending me a nice email saying, Oh, so sorry about that, we’re going to replace them right away. And a different example is, I’ve mentioned Questrade before. It’s something where it’s not the most user friendly – to me, I’m still learning. And they used to have a chat function. So if you’re having a hard time on your website, they could just quickly answer on a chat. And I was having a bit of confusion at one point, I found out that they’ve removed the chat window, so now you have to email them. And for me, that was much less appealing to the point where instead, I just gave my dad a call and asked him. And that’s something where I feel like we’re really leaning towards these quick responses, chat windows, and so brands that are leaning away from that, I think they’re gonna see a little bit more unhappiness from their customers moving forward.

Brad Breininger: 16:54
Yeah, that speed of connection is so key. And people just don’t have patience to not get that. And you’re right – I mean, the four minutes is a little quick. I don’t think people expect that. But the idea that these up and coming brands, really understand what they need to do in order to make a difference when it comes to marketing, customer service, making sure customers are happy. And I think sometimes the older brands struggle with what that looks like and where they need to be in that equation. You know, I think some of them get it. But I think it is a struggle for some.

Jeremy Linskill: 17:30
I think this is a great topic. But I think it’s a bit of a, it could be a different podcast, because I think you’re talking about companies and as they get bigger, I also think that it becomes – they get more customers, and it becomes harder to manage those things. So I think that there’s, you know, there’s a lot in there, I think we can talk about as we kind of move forward.

Marko Zonta: 17:50
To that point, it really comes down to customer service. And I think that because with everything that’s going on customer service is suffering a little bit. And we’ve all experienced that in all kinds of different ways. So I think that for brands to stand out and do better, if they focus on customer service, and improve that, I think that that alone will give them an advantage just because there is so much bad customer service going on right now on so many levels. I think it’s an opportunity for brands.

Jeremy Linskill: 18:22
There’s a lot of companies that don’t have employees right now. Right? You know, that’s a big part of this.

Gabi Gomes: 18:28
Yeah, I think a couple onto that. I think smaller brands tend to be more agile, right? Maybe it’s the owner or a couple of key people that are the customer service versus larger brands, as Jeremy said, larger issues, more volume, they’re possibly, you know, staffing, Human Resources issues as well. So, and I think COVID really put a spotlight on supporting local, smaller brands, etc. So I think that’s gonna stick around for a bit.

Jeremy Linskill: 18:55
Yeah, I think I mean, if you can figure out how to make big brands agile, I think that there’s a lot in there for sure as, I think, going back to Ryan Reynolds and his agency and they seem to, you know, have kind of figured that out a little bit how to get these quick responses and quick decisions by big brands in order to get this market – their marketing out relatively quickly, right. There’s an essence of trust in there, I think as well. So

Gabi Gomes: 19:19
We’re all talking about sex in the city and peloton, and that turnaround time was like literally a day or two before they came back with a response. That was –

Jeremy Linskill: 19:28
Yeah, for sure. I mean, again, this is – we can talk about this for a whole podcast, I think as well, because I mean, what also came out of that was the negative effects of the allegations that were put against the actor immediately after that, how did they react to that? All sorts of things. So it’s a pretty interesting topic, in its own sense, but I think that if we look at all of the stuff, we’re talking about it the humanization, the quick response. It’s a common theme across a lot of this stuff, I think. Yeah, I agree.

Brad Breininger: 19:57
Yeah, it’s this combination of living in a digital world and living in a real world at the same time, and how do we find those connection points between the two? I mean, it’s interesting because on one hand, we have the metaverse where they’re selling virtual real estate and opening virtual malls where you can buy virtual NFTs – well, I guess the NF T’s aren’t virtual. But that’s all happening. And at the same time, we’re complaining that our chatbot is gone and we can’t get a human to respond to us immediately. So we kind of have one foot in the digital world and one foot in the real world. And we’re trying to figure out and I think brands are struggling with this. How do we, how do we progress and manage at the same time? And how do you make all of that happen? And I think that, definitely this year, is going to be a lot more of that going on? There’s two words I want to raise with you, because I think that they have impacted the marketing and branding world in a huge way. And I kind of want to talk about it a little bit. And those two words are Tik Tok. What do you guys think?

Jeremy Linskill: 21:04
Yeah, I mean, I don’t know, as a parent, I have issues, but as a platform? Yeah, I think it’s a definitely a very interesting subject of these small little bits of content. And brands, I think are trying to figure out how to get there and how to be on that platform in a way that is going to be authentic and real at the same time, right?

Brad Breininger: 21:26
Yeah, I think it almost brings a whole bunch of the topics that we’ve discussed together in a single place, it brings in the digital, it brings in the video, and this idea that people’s attention spans are gone. So these are short, little timely videos that are usually entertaining and informative at the same time. A lot of times they’re done by you know, the person down the street from you, who is funnier than you thought they might be and can position things in a bit of a different way. All of a sudden, it’s bringing all of these things that we’ve talked about together in a single place. And I think that, you know, if I look at why Tik Tok has been so successful, it’s almost like, it puts the power back to the people. And you know, it’s not about these big influencers, especially on that platform. Instagram has always been more about the bigger influencers or building the big, the big brand areas, whereas Tik Tok feels a little bit more, a – authentic, a little bit more real, a little bit more, you know, less produced. And I think that it’s just all of those things coming together is as to why the appeal of it has been so impactful,

Gabi Gomes: 22:38
If I remember correctly, wasn’t our very first podcast on Tik Tok, it might have been, if not the first, maybe not the first one. But it was probably one of the first ones that we talkied about this. I’m still a firm believer, it was a new channel at the time. Not so new anymore. But I am still a firm believer that for brands, when a new channel like that comes up, when we see the rise of it, you dabble in it, you dabble in it, you experiment with it, you dip your toe in there, you have fun with it, you know, you’re not your corporate self, you’re the medium. And I think we’ve seen that the brands that have excelled well on there, or the influencers that are on there that have partnered up with brands, who have just grown with the platform and have just kind of move forward, etc. But it is still all about entertainment. And I think Tik Tok is really still I mean, If COVID hadn’t happened with Tik Tok have exploded as much as it did? We’ll never know that right. But I think the fact that we are all looking for entertainment, and that platform allows brands and humans to be entertainers etc. on it – is just a win win all around.

Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC: 23:47
Yeah, definitely think – I think that we’ve been talking about inclusive marketing, we’ve been talking about Tik Tok, we’ve been talking about NFTs, but it all nets out in knowing your audience. And audiences have changed so much in the last two years. That I think research is – needs to become crucial for brands, we’re not talking about numbers. We’re talking about getting to know their audiences – properly know their audiences. So doing even cultural research to find out about that diversity, about the inclusiveness, it becomes crucial at this point.

Brad Breininger: 24:32
Well, it’s even going beyond doing the research because I think organizations have done research in the past. I think the difference now though, to your point, Christian, is don’t just estimate that you might have a certain cultural group in your audience, reach out to them, get them involved, like don’t just, you know, sit in your ivory tower and get a bunch of people from a single culture to integrate all of your different audiences. The truth is is that there is no homogenous audience. And the reality is, is that if you’re not thinking about all of the different facets of your audience, all the different cultures of your audience, all of the different wants, needs and expectations of your audience, you’re missing out. And I think research is definitely a piece of it. But it’s also about reaching out to all of the different groups within your audience and hearing their voices and making sure that they have a voice at the table as you’re trying to map out what it is that you’re trying to achieve. I think the most important element of everything that we’ve talked about, is this idea that things are constantly changing. And although we may look at things that we talked a little bit about last year, the truth is, is that three, four years ago, we were not talking about NF T’s we were not talking about crypto, we were not talking about the metaverse, things are changing so rapidly now that we can look back a year and look forward to this year. But we can’t look back five years and we can’t look ahead five years, it’s just impossible at this point. So really managing change is what brands need to get really, really good at. And whether it’s NFTS or crypto or the metaverse or inclusive and topical marketing, or all of these things. You know, it all comes down to one single thing at the end of the day. No matter how digital we get, no matter how much we delve into social media marketing, or crowdsourcing content, or really looking at video as a primary way to speak to our customers. We have to remember that we’re still talking to humans – at this point. I mean, we may be talking to cyborgs in the future. But right now, we’re still talking to humans. And that combination of making sure that we have one foot in the digital world and one foot in the human world, and making sure that we have that combination between digital and connection is really I think one of the overarching themes for 2022. And I think if brands really want to be ready for the coming year, they need to make sure that they’re considering that. Well, that’s this addition of Everything is Brand. Stay tuned for more topics this year and more information on some of the topics that we talked about today. And remember, even in 2022, Everything is Brand

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