Ultraviolet light the way: Trends for 2018

7 trends for communicators to watch in the new year.

When Pantone announced Ultra Violet would be the Color of the Year 2018, it marked an important moment in the world of trend forecasting. For the first time, a color was chosen not to reflect the times, but hopefully to inform what the future will do. While the idea of purple conjures up images of wizard capes, jokers, and Purple Rain, its most powerful symbol lies in its roots: red and blue. Opposing colors, reaching across the wheel to unite beautifully. In a world where families spent 20 minutes less at their Thanksgiving tables to avoid political conversations, the idea that the color purple could signal a coming together for the year ahead is crucial. While our fingers are crossed that ultraviolet is a prophecy, here are a few other trends to watch.

Cathartic content
From the Julia Roberts surprise hit Wonder, grossing $88.5 million in its first two weeks, to the meteoric rise of NBC’s This is Us, attracting almost 12 million viewers a week, content that makes us ugly cry will capture consumers in 2018. Perhaps culture is filling a void for the lack of heart in other institutions, but content that gives consumers a place to emote and connect positively will provide a much needed outlet in the year ahead. The rise of cathartic content presents an opportunity for brands and communicators to create non-controversial consensus building that can drive connections and shareability with their audiences.

Little big data
Sometimes the easiest things to agree on are that we all want to be more like the 3,445 people that streamed "boozy brunch" on a Wednesday this year. Thank you, Spotify, for giving us something to believe in with 2018 Goals, a campaign that leveraged user habits to develop out of home and digital content for the new year. In 2018, expect to see more brands leverage big data to unleash seemingly small but powerful insights that point to the little, quirky things that connect us, even during cultural discord.

No man’s land
This year, The Wing, an all-women co-working space, soared on social media with an inspiring credo and all Chanel product in the bathrooms. But the millennial pink and rose gold interior pales in comparison to the strength of the core idea of the space: that women could write the rules of their work environment. In an era where it has become painfully obvious that male dominated spaces can come with baggage, this refreshing and provocative concept hit the right note. In the new year, more femme-centric zones will pop up across hospitality, fitness, and travel, giving women a space to call their own.

WTF brand partnerships
Brand partnerships are nothing new, but in 2018 brands will team up in unexpected and quirky ways. Some to earn attention in an increasingly hyperbolic world and other to forge alliances that will help them compete with behemoth online retailers. Mid-year, KFC partnered with Japanese retailer Village Vanguard to launch quirky fried-chicken scented bath bombs. In another WTF move, cool-kid label Kith partnered with buzzy Italian restaurant Carbone for a Capsule collection. In the new year, the more bizarre the pair, the louder the reverberations will be.

#Feminnovation
The buzz for this year’s CES has already kicked off with a loud slap on the wrist when 3% founder Kat Gordon cleverly dubbed the event "Chaps Exclusively on Stage" after viewing the lineup of speakers. While the event came back and highlighted female names that would be speaking off the main stage, the issue underscored the underlying patriarchy of tech. But with fascinating women-led startups bringing forward products like Naya Smart Breast Pump, an innovation that allows women to pump in public, and Milk Stork, a company that allows traveling mammas to send milk home to their babes, the new year will bring more empowering tech for women by women. Bring on the feminnovation 2018.

Museum of Anything
First the Museum of Ice Cream flooded our Instagram feeds with friends bathing in sprinkles and licking golden cones. Next the Color Factory, a pop-up space in San Francisco, lets visitors travel the ROYGBIV spectrum with playful splendor. Most recently, Hallmark launched the Museum of Christmas just in time for snow-blowing boomerangs to hit our feeds. In the next year, we will see brands create museums of anything and everything as a way to engage consumers with intimate experiences that can, of course, be shared with everyone in their social networks. These happy, "Instagrammable" spaces provide a candy-coated refuge for consumers looking to immerse deeply in a simple, joyful topic escaping the more complicated world.

Allies and intersectionality
The most important conversation in our business is diversity. In marketing and communications, where the game is relevance, we need a diversity of thought and perspectives to create things that are meaningful to the diverse populations we serve. It’s also been proven to be better business. This year we have seen companies require their agencies and creative departments to have more inclusive compositions. Another example is Conde Nast launching THEM, an LGBTQA publication. These are inspiring steps in the right direction. In 2018, the diversity conversation will expand, driven by younger millennials, Generation Z, and artistic voices that will not be stifled in our political climate. As these voices rise they will force brands and organizations to open minds and understand diversity on a deeper level including intersectionality – the relationships between an individual’s culture, gender, and race – and what it means to be an ally. Let this present the chance for our industry to listen, learn, and expand our minds, like the largest purple galaxy.

Adrianna G. Bevilaqua is chief creative officer and MD at M Booth

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