Backslash, TBWA's cultural intelligence unit, has released its 2021 glossary of Edges: 40 cultural shifts shaping our world. More than a trend, an Edge is defined as a meaningful cultural shift that has the scale and longevity to propel a brand toward a greater share of the future. These shifts are born from a global process that emphasizes the expertise of over 300 global TBWA 'Culture Spotters' - leveraging insight from Bogota to Berlin, Kigali to Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi to New York.
"The pandemic has precipitated a cosmic reshuffle of global realities, social norms and individual beliefs. A world is ending, and another is being born. 2021 isn't just another year, it's Year Zero. And so this isn't just a trend report," said Agathe Guerrier, Co-Chief Strategy Officer, TBWAWorldwide. "It's a glimpse into a new chapter of our history."
Backslash's 2021 Edges explore the cultural shifts shaping our world in six chapters: Chaos, Preservation, Advancement, Identity, Liberation, and Rebirth. From culture wars to information wars, nowhere is safe from conflict. The opening chapter sets the stage for our current era of chaos, and urges brands to provide a release from the pressure.
The second chapter explores how, in the face of disarray, preservation of our mental energy and physical resources will become a priority. As we hope for the best but prepare for the worst, we'll look to businesses to help us shelter, build resilience, and secure the essentials.
The third chapter, advancement, calls technology into question and asks: are we really ready to sacrifice privacy for convenience, worth for automation, or humanity for optimization?
The fourth chapter, identity, examines how jobs, relationship status and gender no longer define us. As outdated societal constructs are replaced with a more fluid and forgiving approach, brands that empower us evolve will secure their place in the future.
The fifth chapter looks at how a culture craving authenticity is liberating itself from constraints, toxic polarization, perfectionism, and needless consumerism. In the great undoing, brands that celebrate raw transparency and experimentation will offer a breath of fresh air.
The final chapter, rebirth, offers a refreshingly optimistic vision for a new kind of world. One where greater inclusivity, sustainability, and equity become common goals.
"Culture is fast, often confusing, and sometimes misleading. We believe that by separating cultural blur from the shifts that matter, businesses can not only unlock growth, but solidify their role in building a better future," added Backslash's Cultural Strategy Director, Cecelia Girr. "We hope that these Edges bring optimism, inspiration, and a clear direction forward."