Economic conditions will profoundly affect our cultural context moving forward. As our creative content becomes more tangible and honest in reflection, we will be forced to be more realistic about everything over the coming years. The human story will be one of value reflection and reassessment, as both our priorities and purchases are examined in light of what is truly meaningful to us. As the language of hopes and dreams is replaced by one of pragmatism and prudence, new value systems will emerge. We will be more open to expressions that are confident, secure, uplifting, connected, honest and progressive.
Major developments are now happening at lightning speed and changing status quos are revealed in real time with very real consequences. Governments will be judged by how they manage change and, ironically, by how much they bring about change itself has become the mantra of modern politics. Businesses will face major challenges to keep up with and evolve to meet peoples rapidly changing needs. As economies, societies and cultures are recast, the need to know whats next has never been greater.
The Trust Economy
Trust is set to become a critical success factor for brands in 2009. Where we place our trust is changing dramatically. In turbulent times we look to organisations that share our concerns, manage anxiety and take the lead. With the trust spectrum up for grabs, organisations that show they are going the extra mile for people will prosper. Supermarkets in particular have positioned themselves as consumer champions for some time and look set to benefit in this new era.
Being green was once costly, time consuming and a matter of conscience. A major juncture is about to be reached in the future of the planet as austerity turns the environmental case into an economic one. Energy efficiency saves money as well as the planet, and the uptake of this critical message is about to define our future development. The recession will hijack the green argument, turning it from a moral argument to an economic one.
While no media has ever replaced another, TV has been trapped in a corner for some time. In 2009 we will reach the tipping point for broadcast quality Internet Television. Yes, people have been watching TV online for some time, but watching TV on YouTube is not the most satisfying experience a bit like watching YouTube clips on TV. This year such painful experiences will become a thing of the past as media neutral TV finally goes mainstream.
In the future content will need to be free from central control and tradable in the new networks - tomorrows Facebook or Bebo. The aim will be not to drive people to a home page but to scatter diverse pieces of content in multiple contexts and thread them back to the brand. In this emerging era unifying ideas, brand logos or simple short codes will form the threads that link content together. As many adverts already carry URLs, in the future we will see bus ads linking to desktop widgets, on-pack promos leading to corporate-led films, and so on ad infinitum.
Video games used to be the preserve of disenchanted adolescents, but as gaming becomes a truly mass pursuit, soon we will all be part of Generation Game. With economic pressures set to encourage us homewards, the cultural clout of gaming will be further accelerated. The future of the medium is unlimited as the educational potential and social networking possibilities of games platforms are further explored. Gaming will be a fulcrum for future innovation across multiple areas.
The End of Fact
Perceived wisdom now changes on a daily basis and we should expect more contradictory opinions and diverse solutions being presented as definitive. Fact checking is becoming a thing of the past as online opinions blur the line between truth and hearsay. Authority will increasingly become a key communication metric and for media organisations editorial oversight will be a key differentiator. In a time when truth is more contested than ever, objectivity and impartiality will become rarefied and more in demand.
Brands as Vehicles
Brands are landing points; we follow our needs and invariably end up at a brand. This is all set to change. The brands of the future will be vehicles and not just destinations. The success stories of the last decade were built on this principle; Google and YouTube being the two most prominent human gateways. Our journey does not finish with Google and YouTube, thats where it starts. The days of the static brand are increasingly numbered, as they become a means and not an end. This is not just a new economy dynamic; all brands must take heed of this.