Ahead of the curve: The future of brand communications

The world is changing at an extraordinary rate. Technology, the environment, buyer behaviour, and, of course, a pandemic are all keeping brands on their toes.

These global economic, social, technological, and consumer changes have hugely affected how brands communicate, and what they’re communicating.

Modern marketing is increasingly consumer-driven. No longer simply selling to their customers, brands now adapt to their customers’ wants and needs. Simply put, the power has shifted out of the hands of big corporations, and into the hands of consumers.

The accelerated growth of new technologies gives brands the ability to communicate in new and better ways. They are reaching a wider audience faster and more easily than ever before, in ways that are, at the moment, exceptional.

In this blog post, we look at the current world of brand communications trends, and where it’s heading.

Brand communication trends in 2021

Purpose-driven communications

More than ever, consumers are calling for brands to take a stand when it comes to global issues. 62% of customers want brands to be vocal about global issues, and to demonstrate ethical values.

This demand for more diverse and sustainable products and brands has led to companies incorporating cause marketing, diversity, and purpose-driven communications into their strategies.

There has been a rise in companies rebranding, and a particularly noticeable acceleration of purpose-driven brands, with many going back to their roots to work out what they stand for.

That’s why you may have seen fewer product-driven ads, and more personal stories, emotive messaging, and communications designed to make you feel, not just buy.

Creative content

Stuck inside and on their screens for much of 2020 and 2021, consumers have become more numb to digital ads. 

Brands have had to put their creative thinking caps on to produce attention-grabbing, thought provoking content that doesn’t just repeat the same pandemic messaging as everybody else.

Take a look at how the NBA got creative to bring the game experience to fans at home here, or check out Travis Scott’s experiential music tour on gaming platform Fortnite.

Interactive marketing

Interactive content is taking over. Nearly half of marketers are using it, and their main reason? Engagement. Giving consumers the ability to control and personalise what they consume leads to more repeat users, higher conversions, and increased message retention.

This also partly explains why Facebook is no longer the social media kingpin, with younger users preferring more interactive platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

To integrate more interactive content into your marketing, think AR ads, shoppable posts, polls, quizzes, and 360º videos, to really get your audience engaged.

Check out this remarkable interactive article on trade wars by FiveThirtyEight, experts at creating memorable interactive content out of news pieces.

What’s coming up in brand communication trends?

Authenticity and transparency

With only 34% of consumers saying they trust the brands they use, building brand trust is more important than ever.

Brands need to provide more transparency around supply chains, their employees, return policies, ingredients, and their sustainability and ethics.

Authenticity can then be built upon this transparency, with brands highlighting their core values, visions, and processes, and following through with them.

Patagonia’s transparency is a key part of their brand, and allows them to communicate about their environmental values with authenticity. Check out their ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’ campaign which ran in the lead up to Black Friday.

Easy-to-consume content

More than ever, consumers are facing information overload. As our comfort level with  information, and new types of information, increases, so does the capacity and demand for content.

Easy-to-consume content is becoming more sought after, with users reaching for bitesize podcasts, punchy newsletters, and short videos. We’re reading less, and watching and listening more.

Back in 2015 The Washington Post predicted that video content would account for 80% of all online content by 2020. In 2020, 90% of consumers said they would like to see more video content from brands, showing there’s still incredibly high demand for more easy-to-consume content.

Take a look at the list below for visual, to-the-point content ideas:

  • Explainer videos
  • Testimonials
  • User-generated videos
  • Live streams
  • Shoppable videos
  • Video ads
  • Podcasts
  • Educational videos
  • 360º videos
  • Interviews
  • Behind-the-scenes

Building relationships

Alongside the growing demand for transparent, authentic communications, consumers are looking for more personal relationships with brands.

Tailoring communications to smaller, niche groups will continue to be more effective than reaching mass consumer groups with less targeted messaging.

And not just that: over half of consumers are looking for brands to connect them with others, seeing companies as a way to build connections with other like minded people. 

Rethink how you use social media to nurture relationships, and embrace your role as connector. Focus on people, not products, build communities, and use social listening to participate in conversations that matter to your audience.

Find out how Astley Media use 5 Steps to Success to build brand connections and communities.

The future trends in brand communications

Conversational marketing

Conversational marketing is based on one-to-one conversations, offering a more personal way to communicate and foster relationships with customers. 

People no longer respond to cold calling and spam emails. They want something quicker, personal, and authentic.

That’s where technology comes in. Giving users the opportunity to talk to an intelligent chatbot or targeted messages helps get people from A to B much faster, without the need for an employee running a live chat 24/7. It also allows you to identify leads, and make recommendations to the customer to speed up the next steps.

As customers become used to chatbots across websites and social media, we will see many more brands make use of them, making the customer experience more seamless and enjoyable.

Take a look at Hubspot’s pick of the best chatbots of 2021.

Employee activation

The more consumers adapt to tech and data, the more we need to make sure our communications stay human.

The idea of employees as brand ambassadors, and developing their own personal brand to support the overall company’s, isn’t new. It’s on the way, however, to becoming an absolutely vital component to every brand’s communications strategy.

As the rise of influencers’, well, influence continues, utilising employees as their very own micro-influencers will help keep brands’ communications authentic.

Mobile marketing

As consumers continue to spend more time on their phones to escape their busy lives, mobile marketing is definitely here to stay.

Mobile marketing also allows companies to gather more data on their customers, such as which physical stores they visit and which apps they download.

This has all led to the space becoming saturated, making it much more difficult to compete for a user’s attention. Mobile marketing is, however, set to become more profitable, as algorithms improve and companies learn about and target their customers faster and better than ever.

Messenger apps are expected to become the number one marketing channel, as brands start to make better use of the billions of active social messaging users.

Voice interaction is also on the rise as more people rely on phones and wearable devices. Content will need to become increasingly tailored for voice searches, communicating using words people will say rather than type.

Read this article from Forbes for advice on how to write content for voice search.

What do you think the future of brand communications holds? And how is your brand adapting to changing technology, consumer demands, and marketing trends?

Get in touch to find out how Prag can help take your brand into the future of marketing.


By Dan Pritchard, MD, Program