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Discussing what 2021 meant for brands.

2021 year in review.

2021 has sped by like a blur – and it’s been quite the ride, again!

Like our 2020 wrap up last year, this episode is all about the key themes and trends that we noticed during the #year2021.  Everything from the continued rise and influence of social media to the importance of partnerships, digital footprints, the importance of people, working from home – and more. What’s very clear though is that things have changed – forever.

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Recorded on December 10, 2021.

Transcript

Brad Breininger: 0:00
Hi everyone, and welcome to this week’s Everything is Brand. And welcome to our last podcast of 2021. So we’re gonna do a wrap up of the year and talk about the year that was. Join us. So last year, we did a wrap up in 2020 about the year that was then. And then we want to do the same thing for 2021. So there were some key themes that we noticed. And we predicted for this year, everything from the continued rise and influence of social media through to the importance of partnerships, digital footprint, a whole bunch of different things. And so what I’ll do is I’ll go through the a team, and we can all talk about what we saw as the major trends. The first one that I want to bring up is the idea of how important people are going forward and the influence that people have had over 2021. I mean, we talked a lot about this in last year’s wrap up. But what is clear is that we’ve now entered a place where things have changed forever. Like if you think about what brands are gonna have to deal with, from a employee perspective, and what people expect around working from home and being more flexible, having more flexible work hours, you know, these are all highly influential elements that you know, affect the brand and how the brand is in the marketplace, because it talks to their values to their ethics, and all those kinds of things. But I mean, I think that that’s an area that is just not going to go back, I think that the expectation that people have is that this flexibility has to be built into everything. And brands are going to have to be really cognizant of that and figure out what’s gonna work best for them. So I think that that was a prediction that we kind of got right. And I think if 2021 has taught us anything, that that’s even becoming more and more apparent. So that’s the influence of people. What are some of the other things that we talked about last year that you saw happen in 2021? And did we get it right?

Gabi Gomes: 2:04
Not sure if we talked about it last year, but definitely think that diversity and inclusion played a huge role this year, and will continue to play a huge role next year, we really saw the advertising world really switch in terms of, you know, having persons of all abilities, colors, etc. on our commercials, etc, even from audio to you know, ads, everything – that was a much needed change in the industry. And I think brands are definitely way more in tuned with now – that going forward.

Brad Breininger: 2:43
Yeah, definitely. What else?

Marko Zonta: 2:44
I think the other thing that I think was quite apparent this past year, and I think it will continue to be into next year, is that some brands are still trying to catch up and are reacting to what’s actually going on. And really, I think it has to do a lot with the fact that they were very slow at incorporating technology and online solutions and things like that into their brand overall position and how they were doing business. And I think that some of them are really kind of doing some catch up on that. And I think that we see that even simple things like online shopping, some brands are kind of struggling to basically compete in that space. And they’re offering all kinds of solutions now online. And it’s apparent that they’re just reacting to what’s going on, because it’s not fully kind of integrated, and it’s not running as smoothly as it could potentially, or you know, companies that actually had that part of their overall strategy, you know, over a longer period of time. Kind of a silly example, but I think a really good example, to kind of show that is you order something online, you order five items, and each item is shipped to your door in a separate bag on a different date from a different location, right. And it’s just craziness in terms of the amount of waste that generates. But they don’t have it all figured out yet. So – but they have to do it because they’re trying to catch up. So I think that that’s something that we’ll continue to see. But that’s something that brands will have to really focus on, because it will start to damage their reputation, because it’s not a good experience. And quite frankly, it’s very wasteful.

Gabi Gomes: 4:24
I’ll tag onto that one as well on top of ecommerce. I think we’ve seen a bigger shift, obviously in the ecommerce space but more into the mobile commerce space. People are shopping more on their phones, not to mention people are shopping via social – so we’re noticing more shopping through Instagram for example. You know, they see something they like they click they follow etc. right? So I think we saw a lot of that especially on Instagram. I think we’re gonna see more of that coming up.

Brad Breininger: 4:55
Yeah, so the the influence of social and the rise of social is just becoming, more and more integrated. And that’s a perfect example of how connected social media used to just be sharing information or posting photos. And now it’s an integral part of how we are on the internet. Like it’s a, it’s a such an important element. And brands have to understand that and they need to be part of that. Because if they’re not, they’re left in the dust. And to your point, Gabi, the influencers are the new celebrities, right.

Marko Zonta: 5:29
What I think is interesting about that, in terms of social media, and people being more comfortable with that. I think that overall, people are a lot more comfortable with technology now are using their phones for all kinds of things, including shopping, or just interacting with brands in general, I think that the comfort level went with some age groups, you know, fairly low. And I think that a lot of people really started using technology. But that doesn’t mean that people are not craving that in person interaction and being able to go to stores or meetings and things like that. I think that there is still that desire to have that on the table as an option. But of course, that ease of technology, comfort of doing it from your home and all that stuff. So it’s interesting how offerings kind of designed by brands, I think we’ll have to really touch both sides. And I think that that’s becoming very clear that it’s not one or the other people will want both.

Brad Breininger: 6:27
Yeah. So what else have we seen?

Sasha Codrington: 6:30
I would say going back to social a little bit – the importance of video, particularly short format. We saw Tik Tok be really popular, Instagram they introduced Reels, and they were prioritizing that quite a bit in their algorithm. A lot of people were seeing that if they posted Reels, they started contributing to that new feature as soon as it came out, they got rewarded a lot with being pushed on explore, having a lot more engagement. So that was something and it was the same with YouTube, they introduced Shorts, I haven’t seen that become quite as popular yet. But I think going back to what you said Marko creating that connection, I think video was one way that people found a way to do that during the pandemic, they could have a little bit more of a personal experience and share a bit more through video on their socials versus just an image that we’ve been used to.

Jeremy Linskill: 7:19
Yeah, I have to jump in there and completely agree with you. That’s the big one for me was video across the board, seeing it short videos, for sure. People learning and getting exposed to everything through Tik Toks. It’s affecting music charts, it’s affecting everything, even so much as I – you know, before this podcast, I was going out and doing research into you know, 2021 and every I want to say article that I came across but it was all video like everybody is now even recapping or doing things through video, it’s less writing, and you’re seeing more and more video. And now you’re even getting to the aspect of video where they’re customized video. So every time you load a video, it’s it’s slightly different video, like I don’t know, if you guys have seen the most recent like Matrix trailer, if you watch it, every time you watch, it’s a little bit different. And that can even be affected by if it’s you watching it versus your significant other watching it. You know, it’s now reading as to who’s watching it and giving you a different experience that way. So, video is only getting bigger. And even internally like you know, at our agency, we’re seeing that our clients are starting to jump more on video and doing more things via video, we’re doing more video ads now, for our clients, it’s things like that. So I think video is the massive one from this year and will continue to be. And then further to that you’re getting into voice you know, and voice was big. We talked about voice this year as well. If you’re looking at the younger demographics, it’s like 60% of what they do on their devices is via voice. And further to that you’re looking into now spatial audio. So for talking about those meetings and those experiences and things like that of getting online and being in a meeting with people, spatial audio is putting that person that’s on your left to your left and the person on your right to your right. You know, you turn your head, it’s all moving so and they’re heading towards that whole 3d avatar thing of like stepping into an office space online, sitting at a table and having a 3d avatar. So lots of interesting things are coming in sort of the video and voice area.

Brad Breininger: 9:18
It’s the metaverse that Zuckerberg was talking about, right? I mean, it’s all coming to fruition. The Metaverse I mean, we have to talk about the metaverse, too. We had a whole podcast on this. But the reality is, is that that in person, like you were saying Marko is still really important. But I guess one of the questions that we’re gonna have to track over the next couple years is how important is that going to be going forward? Is it going to start to switch where and I’ve already seen it in myself and in other people where before it was like this work at home thing was, you know ugh, and the whole zoom thing was ugh, and now it feels like I just wanted to get back to some of that live in person stuff and that now sometimes when I’m in the live and in person stuff, I just want to get back to the Zoom stuff because it just feels, I don’t know more comfortable like, are we getting used to this idea of a metaverse? Are we being kind of slowly brought over into the metaverse through everything that’s going on?

Jeremy Linskill: 10:13
I think we absolutely are.

Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC: 10:15
Let me jump in here because that was a topic that I was gonna bring up the metaverse because it’s not something new. It’s been spoken about in the past, even with technologies like like with Second Life where you had virtual worlds, and they’ve been around for quite a while. But this year, and I think marks a key milestone because some big players are getting into the whole Metaverse thing, of course Facebook, Microsoft. The other day, for example, I was doing some reading, and I stumbled upon a game called the Sandbox, where people are creating assets, like let’s say T shirts, or cars or houses, and they’re selling those virtual assets, nothing physical, for real money, and people are buying those items, right? And I just saw that time is starting to think about releasing newsletters in that Metaverse as well. So that’s something that’s gonna start to get big in the next couple of years, probably. So something to keep in mind.

Brad Breininger: 11:25
Yeah, that whole virtual element. I mean, if you’re talking about NFT’s, if you’re talking about these virtual products, I read somewhere and I forget who the retailer was, maybe one of you all heard about it. But this retailer bought real estate in one of these virtual worlds so that they could sell their products, their virtual products going forward, almost like taking a lease out on nothing. It’s expensive. Yeah, it’s not cheap. It’s like some of those NFT’s are extremely expensive, right. Like, I think there was that little blonde girl getting the side eye, I think that that was one of the big NFT sellers of this year, like one of the most famous memes of all time. And then the Charlie Bit My Finger, that was another one that sold for like some huge –

Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC: 12:14
$600,000, or something like that.

Brad Breininger: 12:17
It’s crazy, right?

Marko Zonta: 12:18
It just shows you how important brand is whether it’s in you know, physical real world, or the digital 3d, whatever worlds, it’s that brand expression and seeing the brand and experiencing that brand, it really doesn’t matter how we come across it. If it’s branded, if it has a personality, if it has good messaging, people connect, right, and it drives sales, see drives brand value, it drives all of that.

Gabi Gomes: 12:47
Leaving the matrix world for a moment there. The other thing, I think that’s going to play a big part, and you touched on this Marko is brands having a purpose or a cause behind them, we’re seeing more and more whether it be associated with climate change, or any other cause behind it, brands are getting behind brands, are kind of standing up more and more for what’s important to them to align themselves with the public and what’s going on and value driven alliances are happening more and more with brands.

Sasha Codrington: 13:21
Yeah, I had written down something similar as well, where I feel like people are looking a little bit more at values – values of the company and also for them. We used to make little purchases, on the way to work, for this outing, that outing. When we were sitting at home for a long time, I think people were looking for something that had some kind of long term impact for their life, or their daily routine. So people were investing in things that had more value. And I think that that was for them, but also they were looking at the company’s values a little bit more closely too.

Brad Breininger: 13:57
One of the most important things in all of this is that brands really need to understand how everything is changing. And there are some that are going to hang on, they’re going to white knuckle it and are going to hang on to the way things were and they’re going to hang on to what has worked for them in the past. And, you know, without realizing that the world has completely changed. And I think this is even beyond just the pandemic at this point. It’s even beyond COVID. It’s beyond all of the things that have happened over the last couple years. And it’s really now starting to become more about people’s expectations and what they’re willing to put up with what they are willing to accept what they want to see from a change perspective. And it’s not going to be everyone but I think it’s more people than ever. Like you said Christian. You know, the metaverse is has been around for a while. But for a lot of people it was on the fringe, right? Like it was this thing that you kind of heard about. And some of these things that have been on the fringe for so long are becoming our new reality. And I think that that that’s a perfect example of when reality shifts is when things that have been on the fringe or been just outside the norm start to come into the mainstream. I think that’s what we’re starting to see. And I think we’re gonna see a lot more of that in 2022. For sure.

Marko Zonta: 15:15
One thing I would add to that, because again, it’s something new for brands to try out and get involved in. And I think that as part of that, I mean, we’ve talked about this in the past, with so many different social channels, and so many other options that are coming up. I think what’s really important for brands as well is to take a look at the channels where they’re actually connecting with their audience, they don’t need to be involved in every channel in every way possible, they really need to be strategic, they need to take a look at who they’re actually trying to connect with, which channels are the right channels for that, and really just focus on those. And I mean, we work with clients and advise them on that all the time. But I really think that with more stuff coming down the pipe in terms of more options, that’s going to be even more important, like really figure out who your audience is, and what you’re actually trying to say so you can select the right channel for that.

Brad Breininger: 16:11
Yeah. However, do they run the risk of being left behind? Like, for example, I wouldn’t have advised every brand to go on Tik Tok. But more and more now I’m thinking, You know what, like, when the rise of these things becomes so integrated into society, can you stay away? I mean, there are a lot of brands where the idea of having virtual space in the metaverse is just the most Yahoo thing that they could ever devise or come up with. But is there going to come a point where if you’re not there, you’re kind of out of the conversation?

Marko Zonta: 16:45
Right? But to that point, exactly. So maybe Tik Tok is the right channel for them. Maybe Facebook is not, right? So it’s not just okay, we need to add Tik Tok, and still have all the other channels. Maybe by looking at the results and connections that you’re making some of those channels are just not the right channels for for your particular audience. So cut them out and focus on on either new ones, try new ones, or, you know, really focus on the ones that are giving you results. That’s really the point I was trying to make.

Gabi Gomes: 17:16
I think I’ve said this before, I think it’s important for a brand to always experiment and stay curious. And I think that’s, you know, when it comes to social channels and platforms, or whatever, I think that is kind of paramount. I’m not saying you need to blow your entire marketing budget on a Tik Tok campaign or strategy or anything like that. But I think you need to experiment in them. You know, I think you need to figure out what it is. See if your customer is there, see what you could possibly do. You need to remain curious. You need to bring out that creativity and say, Hey, how could we be there? How could we do something there? Right? It could be something playful, whatever it is, but I think it is that experimentation. It is that staying curious as to whatever is coming down the pipe, whether it be new technology, or a new platform, or whatever it is, right.

Brad Breininger: 18:04
Yeah, I think it brings up this really important point, which is that brands have to be ready to shift. And I think that the days of set it and forget it even for a year like people used to do 12 month marketing strategies. I’m not sure that a 12 month marketing strategy is the best way to go anymore, I think you have to really be like you said Gabi, experimenting, watching, listening, seeing where things are working and trying new and different things because I think the audience is changing so quickly. And if the brands aren’t changing at the same pace, they’re going to be left behind 100%. So I think it’s that shiftability that brands have to build into their strategies, and really make sure that they’re exploring and experimenting, and trying and observing and listening, and all of those great things that we’ve talked about throughout the year throughout all of our podcasts.

Sasha Codrington: 19:00
Just kind of jumping off of that, I think part of that – that rapid change is a result of us having such short attention spans at this point. I find that everything is leaning towards like those short videos, I find everybody’s trying to find ways to give instant gratification online. Like that’s something I’ve noticed, even online shopping. Instagram, for example, makes it so easy for you – where you can just click one button, you’ve ordered it. I was looking at a clothing site recently, and they had a partnership with Uber. So if you ordered clothes, instead of waiting for it to be mailed, they would put it in an Uber for you so you’d get it within three hours. Wow. And I’m starting to see that more and more. And it’s, it’s a bit scary. I feel like our attention span, our patience has really gone down in the past couple of years.

Brad Breininger: 19:50
I think that’s a good point.

Gabi Gomes: 19:52
They’re really kind of tapping into that impulse. And the fact that we make split second decisions and well we may see thing, whatever product we’re looking for, and oh, we’ll noodle on it, but they want like instant, instant purchase, take advantage of that right away.

Brad Breininger: 20:09
How many people have left a cart empty, because you get into the details of having to do something and you’re just like, I’m sorry, like, I don’t want to go find my credit card, put in the credit card, like, where’s my Apple Pay? Where’s my PayPal? Like, seriously, I do not want to take the time. And I’ve abandoned carts, because I’m like, I just don’t have the patience.

Marko Zonta: 20:31
It’s actually really interesting to pick up on that point from the digital experience, and how we really have no patience, have no time for anything. And in speaking with a few people who are actually in customer service, dealing with real people, what I’m hearing is that their experience, or seeing a really big change in people’s attitude, and people’s patience level, in people’s expectations, it is very different than what it was two years ago, some people actually basically just say, it’s at a crazy level now where it’s like, people have absolutely no understanding that if something is not physically possible, and they don’t accept that as, okay, that’s just the way it is and we have to wait. So I find it really interesting. So I think that digital life is spilling over into kind of the physical life and what we expect from it.

Gabi Gomes: 21:29
I think there’s a growing population of people flocking out to the country going off the grid, you know, have nothing to do with social tech or whatever, there’s going to be that too. And it’s a pendulum, right? I don’t know, swinging one way right now. And I agree with you, Marko, it’s like stuff can’t get done fast enough world is moving way too quickly. And then there’s those folks that like, I’m going to completely abandon this and go in the complete opposite direction. So it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds.

Brad Breininger: 21:59
But this brings up an even bigger issue. And that is, is that the digital world is moving at the pace that you’re talking about Sasha, yet the physical world, the real world is not look at all the supply chain issues. Look at all those ships sitting off the coast of California because they didn’t have enough workers to unload the cargo. There’s this incredible speed that’s happening in the digital world and then the physical world, it’s difficult for it to catch up, which is why I think that a lot of this Metaverse situation is is happening even a little bit faster. Because if you can have the digital experience and it stays in the digital world, and you’re just in that realm all the time, maybe that’s advantageous. Maybe the physical world is not going to be able to keep up with our lack of attention or our lack of patience. In the same way that we expect. And to your point, Marko, I mean, I read this article called The Rise of the Karen and I feel bad for anyone named Karen. And I also feel like I don’t understand why they’ve chosen a female name because there’s plenty of Kirk’s let’s say that, you know, the male version of a Karen is a Kirk. There’s plenty of Karen’s and Kirk’s, but the name of this article was the rise of the Karen. And basically the idea was, is these people who go into a physical space, and cause nothing but havoc for these brands and these workers and these employees, because they just can’t deal with having to wait a minute.

Gabi Gomes: 23:35
And you’re right, I think technology is going to play a part in that. I think there was a couple of restaurants recently that I heard basically installed robots to deliver the food to tables, because of the lack of servers, right? We’ve got an issue with employment. And they could stand up a robot that literally delivers the food from the kitchen to the table for whatever cost, right? I think the technology will definitely fill those holes, whether we’re going to be open to it or not. Who knows, time will tell but we saw Amazon a number of years ago with their facilities basically transform it all using robots in order to get our packages faster, right? Because of course, we need it the next day. Right? So robots technology, it’ll definitely be there. But really interesting to see what’s going to happen.

Brad Breininger: 24:27
Yeah, that dichotomy between the real world in a virtual world I think, is probably – we’ve seen a lot of it happen this year. But it’s definitely one of the major themes going forward is where is that balance going to net out what things are going to happen in the real world to support what’s going on in the virtual and digital worlds? And what’s going to happen on the virtual and digital side to support what’s going on in the real world. And, and it’s interesting because if you look at some of the other major things from the year, it really was the year of the people, the people saying this is what I want from a consumer perspective, this is what I want from a brand perspective, this is what I want from an employment perspective. And at the same time, there’s all this Digital Influence at the same time. So it’s a little bit of a dichotomy. And I think that there’s a little bit of back and forth, it’s happening definitely happened over this year. And we’ll probably see a lot more of that coming up. But it’s definitely something that brands need to be aware of, especially on the retail side, a lot of retail brands, you know, you kind of opened your storefront, you welcomed customers in, you made sure that they were served quickly, you allowed them to purchase and then they left and hopefully they came back. And a lot of those rules are changing, you know, a lot of those rules around what the old agreement was, are changing. And the issue is, is how quickly will brands be able to keep up with that? How quickly will they be able to make those connections and, you know, maintain their customer base, build their customer base, we’re seeing whole industries that are going under such huge change that it has to be affecting their brands, look what’s going on, like you, you mentioned the robots in the restaurant industry. But the restaurant industry itself is a completely different kettle of fish than it was two or three years ago. And that’s going to start to happen more and more with different industries. Because although there’s been pandemic influence, it’s not completely pandemic related. There’s a lot of things that are just going on in the world, that are affecting how brands need to come to market. And really, as we look at all those things that we talked about the rise of social media, the influence of social media, the influence of people, the influence of technology, all of those things were so key in 2021, the story is going to continue to be told in 2022. And you know, what – we’ll be here with Everything is Brand to talk about what that will look like what our expectations are, and give you our insights. So hopefully you had a great 2021 and we look forward to seeing you in 2022. And remember, everything is brand.

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