Looking back at early 2021, some of us happily began the year with the hope that we’d resume some sort of normality after a crazy 2020. One year later, we can say one thing for certain: Nothing was especially normal, and normality as we know it won’t be returning anytime soon.
Within agencies, 2021 continued to reinforce the importance of our role to help brands and companies grow audiences and market share in a quickly evolving world. But we were also forced to pay more attention to what really matters, allowing us to add even more value for our clients: helping brands understand the importance of purpose.Here are five lessons from 2021 that will continue to make an impact in 2022.
1. Finding purpose
We will see the importance of brands being purposeful, with strong roots and connections with consumers through their timeless platforms, become even more pivotal to their success. Brands will need to be meaningful in a world where consumers are increasingly looking to connect with companies that are not only there to make short term profits but genuinely engage, improving consumer’s lives beyond the product or service they deliver.
In being about more than profit, brands who are engaged in building a better tomorrow, with a tangible demonstration of their purpose, have been and will continue to be critical in terms of capturing and retaining consumer’s trust. As we live in a transparent world, the companies owning these brands will also need to continue showing strong commitment and tangible actions to demonstrate they “walk the talk”.
2. Creating moments
We will see continued acceleration in the digital and data-transformation fields, creating superior one-to-one experiences, which will become even more key to brand sales’ success. The ability to leverage timely relationships with an audience, to generate personalised engagement, ease the path to purchase and thus make the brand transactional across all activation touchpoints will be crucial. Staying culturally relevant, always on, topical and connected will also be factors continuing to drive engagement.
3. The big picture
Keeping the whole picture in mind has always been extremely important and that will only increase as time goes on. Understanding the big picture, the environment in which brands and companies operate, and thus understanding where our roles as marketers and creatives can make the difference will become even more vital. With the continuous expansion of competition, of connections opportunities while budget and resource are not expandable, we need to be brave and smarter in order to be more effective and efficient in building our client solutions, keeping consumers at the centre of all thinking.
Try, measure, and adapt. The need to innovate has been and will be increasingly important. Trying new ways to engage with consumers; exploring new ideas; using new connection tools; developing customised measurements to monitor progress and results; and course-correcting our work, our media plans, and our platforms, will be key.
5. The people, the people, the people
All this being said, the most important piece of the puzzle by a mile has been our talent and caring for our people. In 2022 this will require even more focus. It’s a good thing—something to be celebrated because great people make great work.
As the leader of a marketing organisation and creative business, it has become clear that engaging with our talent and teams has never been more important, and this will continue into 2022 and beyond. Better people create better work. So it stands to reason that creating and fostering a climate of respect and trust, united behind ambitious goals, and nourishing a work environment where we embrace diversity and inclusion—not because it’s the topic of the moment and nice on a chart but because it’s the right thing to do—makes sense. It makes us richer. It enlarges our perspective. Being more diverse and inclusive makes the work we do better. Nourishing strong values is the best bond for nurturing loyalty. We create an environment where we do not judge people, but embrace differences as a source of learning and richness. It’s a win-win: our clients benefit from a partner who truly understands their audiences, and we as an agency grow, learn and evolve.
No matter what tomorrow brings, the magic of great creative work will shine through. The magic of great talent working together, giving their best to deliver creative solutions for brands and companies who are admired because of what they stand for, will shine through. And our job—to encourage brands to be the best they can be—will be even more important.
Sebastien Desclee is the CEO of FCB New Zealand.