Why Brands Need To Be Agents of Positive Impact in 2021

By Jennifer DaSilva, President of Berlin Cameron

The word “unprecedented” has been used a lot to describe 2020. Only a few weeks into 2021 and it’s seeping into the new year as well. Yet, we’ve learned over the last several months that as people we are resilient and determined to find hope and optimism through it all.

It’s important to reflect on everything we’ve learned this year, yet we must also look ahead and see how we can create cultural change. To begin this journey, Berlin Cameron partnered with Perksy to get a snapshot of how consumers are feeling about 2021. The good news is: There’s a lot of hope and optimism out there (“hopeful” is the word most associated with 2021). People want to feel connected. They want to take care of themselves and their mental health. And they want brands to be agents of positive impact.

“New Normal” has got to go

Consumers are really, really tired of hearing that phrase, with 59% of respondents saying they never want to hear it again. We’ve had a year of momentous change, and instead of relying on that phrase as a fallback, we should start to look forward to figuring out what “normal” looks like from here on out. And more importantly, since “new normal” will remind people of the anxiety and stress associated with the pandemic, we as advertisers and marketers should look for ways that we can bring more joy into people’s day-to-day lives.

Health — especially mental health — will be a big focus

Improving mental health is a huge goal for consumers (36%) in 2021, as is spending more time outdoors (46%). This is important. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on all of us mentally and emotionally. Even though our industry has taken a lot of strides towards opening up the dialogue about mental health, from offering counseling to mental health days, leaders will have to step up and make the stigma around mental health a thing of the past. Whether it’s scheduling one-on-one check-ins with team members to make sure they’re doing okay or redefining corporate policies, it’s clear that mental health will continue to be an issue. Making changes may be a challenge as we continue to work remotely and people feel less connected, which leads me to…

2021 will be the year of making new connections

After a year of stay-at-home orders and lockdowns, people are ready to feel connected. Aside from spending time with their family (46%), the top social goal for respondents is making new friends (42%). Many (40%) plan to do so by joining hobby-based groups. One of the ways I’ve gotten through the pandemic is through feeling connected, whether it’s been having a glass of wine with college friends on a Zoom hangout, or re-committing to building the #Connect4Women community I started a few years ago. I’m hopeful that the network will be able to help even more women connect as we launch the #ShecoveryNetwork, designed to help women get back on their feet and back into the workforce. I’ve even found that one of the biggest surprises of 2020 has been getting to know and feeling close to people I’ve never even met in person — which I predict will happen for a lot of people as we move into 2021.

All in all, consumers are ready to put 2020 behind us. The fatigue is real: 67% of respondents will be tired of talking about the pandemic in 2021, and 62% will be tired of talking about the election.

So let’s find new conversations to start, new ideas to push forward, and new ways to lead in the coming year. Here’s to 2021 being just as unprecedented as 2020 — in a different, more positive, and more powerful way.