The Good, The Bad, and The Future: Top Trends and Predictions from Brownstein Leaders

2021 was a dramatic year in marketing. Creativity was at an all-time high; we saw everything from luxury brands launching virtual shopping experiences on Snapchat to companies devoting media real estate to demonstrate support for employees’ mental health. Brands took risks — some good, some questionable — but 2021 forced everyone to take chances to get consumers and industry folks talking.

At Brownstein, we are bursting with pride over our talented team, the most creative and incredible industry pros who make us unstoppable. After a long, yet never dull year, we took a moment to sit down with some of our leaders to hear their perspective on some of 2021’s top trends and what to anticipate in the year ahead.


When reflecting on 2021, one word comes to mind: video, video, video. From smartphones to silent movies, marketers doubled down on the mesmerizing power of video across social channels and platforms. In the pandemic, video became the number one way for us to compete, communicate, and work. In 2021, 86% of businesses said they were using video as one of their premier marketing tools, while 93% said it plays a crucial role in their current strategies. In 2022, video, namely User-Generated Content (UGC), will continue to be a cornerstone of brand marketing, leveraging social media as the storytelling platform.

You can read more from our Creative team here.


The pandemic solidified our digital dependence. Companies have reevaluated their traditional business models to be more encompassing of digital methods and accessible through social channels. And fortunately for marketers, a result of this digital dependency has been increased email consumption. Suddenly, people were engaging with marketing emails more than before, despite their overcrowded inboxes. Email marketers have been more attentive to customers’ content consumption behaviors and have applied their learnings to highly tailored and personalized programs.

In 2022, in addition to email we anticipate a continued rise in augmented and virtual reality content. We saw some major moments in the past few years, but the crossover of AR/VR content into live moments will be something that is accessible to the everyday digital user. We saw integrations of 3D and AR content through campaigns and collaborations — i.e., Snapchat’s virtual shops — and we only anticipate more ahead.

You can read more from our Digital experts here.

Public Relations

In lockdown, companies immediately ramped up their news efforts to ensure that while we were not all physically together, we were connected through storytelling and news. This created a difficult hurdle for PR pros, further saturating the already crowded news media market.

Of the leading PR trends, mental health became a buzzword and celebrity overnight. What was once a taboo topic suddenly became a priority; companies had to acknowledge the impact that mental health has on employees, and be held accountable in new ways. Similarly, diversity, equity, and inclusion became a communication mandatory. From a rise in employee resource groups and diversity councils, to workforce diversification strategies and beyond, those who demonstrated transparency, authenticity, and overall accountability led the way. 

Lastly, in its prime, influencer marketing showed the world how to authentically promote a brand or product. Over time, it was everywhere — from celebrities to bloggers — on every channel and profile. This eroded credibility. In 2022, expect to see a rise of “authenticators,” or genuine brand advocates singularly devoted to a brand and all its causes, including social justice, sustainability, fair employment, and more.

You can read more from our Public Relations experts here.

Social Media

Social media has simply crushed other means of content delivery. In lockdown, it officially became our portal to cultural moments, the return of sports, shopping, TikTok trends, and more, and now has a permanent and crucial role within our forever digitally-connected society.

We saw the growth of short-form content (think TikTok videos or Instagram Reels) dominate — so much so that Instagram shifted its brand from a photo sharing app to video sharing. AR continues to evolve across social platforms, with brands leveraging technologies such as face filters, 3D integrations, and immersive backgrounds. As interaction and immersion continue to grow as part of the customer/online experience, AR will take the driver’s seat, with a 43.8% annual growth over the next seven years. We will start to see non-traditional approaches from brands on how they incorporate AR into their marketing and content plans. Brands willing to take risks will lead. Lastly, social platforms will continue to support retail through e-commerce integrations like Instagram Shops and Twitter’s in-feed shopping. As brands continue to make products more accessible to customers, we’ll see platforms increase their shopping features.

You can read more from our Social Media experts here.