Design, Marketing, Video & Audio, Web Design

Envato’s Hottest Creative Trend Predictions for 2021

Which creative trends will dominate the digital world in 2021? Our design, web, multimedia and marketing experts dust off their crystal balls to find out.

Portrait for Kelsie Rimmer By Kelsie Rimmer
Posted 18 Dec 2020
Creative Trend Predictions 2021

It’s that time of year again! With the end of 2020 just around the corner and 2021 in our sights, if there’s anything that the current year has taught us, it’s that there are some things you can never predict. However, in the midst of the global crisis, lockdowns and social, environmental and political movements, many creative, digital and design trends didn’t just survive, but thrived throughout one of the most chaotic years in modern history. 

Now, looking ahead to 2021, our Envato experts have dusted off their crystal balls and reviewed the items and categories that customers have been buying and downloading from Envato Elements and Envato Market in 2020, to predict what the digital world might look like over the year to come. So which trends are set to dominate the creative industries in 2021? 

Packed with hot tips, templates and specialist insights in the areas of design, web design, marketing and multimedia, here are the top creative trends our experts are predicting for 2021…

While there are certain elements of graphic design that will always be here to stay, plenty of new design trends have emerged in 2020, with many pushing onwards and upwards into 2021. 

So what will be the hottest design trends of 2021? Ranging from DIY design to organized chaos, here are the biggest trends our experts predict you’ll be seeing in graphic design over the next year.

1. DIY Design

Naples illustration by P Willis
Naples illustration by P Willis

Featuring a raw, unpolished, hand-crafted style, the DIY design trend is perfect for evoking a personalized and homemade feel. And with many people searching for a greater sense of connection and community in times of uncertainty, we’ll likely see this trend grow in 2021. 

Digital illustration, digital watercolor, cottagecore and other trends have driven an increase in hand drawn and handmade designs, with many designers now choosing to take their work back to basics. And as organic design continues to grow in popularity, we’re also seeing more artists and designers dabble in hands-on arts and crafts to inspire their digital creations – leading to the rise of the super trendy DIY aesthetic. 

Watercolor Collection

“The DIY aesthetic has to be one of my faves, and it’s become increasingly popular as brand and customer preferences shift towards supporting local and conscious consumption,” says Envato Lead Digital Designer, Sophie Dunn. “The typically earthy, natural, organic tones and materials this aesthetic is known for has a way of making you feel you’re supporting the greater good, and embracing the beauties and perfect imperfections of human craft.”

Earth Tones Collection

Seen in this collage-inspired Real Estate Branding by ARAMI CARILÓ, as well as this Naples illustration by P. Willis and this crafty interpretation of 36 Days of Type by Marlena Stawarz, the DIY design trend involves experimenting with different materials and mediums, including raw illustrations, neutral colors, natural textures such as wood, paper and twine, as well as collage and mixed mediums. 

2. Nostalgia Design

Since making a comeback in 2019, the retro graphic design trend has dominated the design space, popping up everywhere from industrial, interior and graphic design to social media and pop culture. But throughout 2020, the resurgence of retro has evolved into what we’re calling the ‘nostalgia design trend’ – which is pegged to grow in 2021. 

Nostalgia design has been adopted by independent designers such as Envato customer Peppy Colours as well as big brands such as Nike, Pepsi, Gucci, and it has become an incredibly valuable tool over the past year as the world navigated unpredictable and unprecedented times. 

As a result, many graphic designers have been resurrecting classic nostalgic design styles in their work, such as the psychedelic style iconic of the 60s era, free-form typography of the 70s, neon and cyberpunk styles of the 80s, the grunge and pop-culture trends from the 90s. No matter which decade you choose, there’s no question that nostalgia design is here in a big way and it’s here to stay. 

90s Design Trends Collection

“2020’s grunge draws inspiration from zine art of the 90s and puts it through a digital lens,” says Envato Design Specialist Kate McInnes. “We had computers in the 90s but it wasn’t a big part of the aesthetic, a lot of the zine art was photocopies and collage. While computer graphics is the easiest way to create designs in this style, it’s a lot of fun to do it the old way too!”

3. Gold & Jewel Tones

Retouch by Harvey Nichols

Envato’s most popular color for three years in a row, Gold is reigning supreme as we head into the new year. While it’s growth is slightly declining, it’s set to be one of the most popular colors of 2021 too. 

Gold can lend a luxurious, high-end feel to any project, from Harvey Nichols’ ‘Retouch’ to &Walsh’s Jay Z X Barneys Luxury Fashion Line. It can also be used alongside other contrasting textures, colors and materials – such as neutrals, pastels and organic textures – to give it a more muted and modern edge. 

&Walsh – Jay Z’s X Barneys Fashion Line

“A touch of gold can elevate your brand or project instantly,” explains Sophie. “Use it sparingly in finer details of your artwork to give a delicate, premium look. Muted golds (like Rose Gold) are perfect for adding a subtle touch of class and texture, while shinier, brassy golds are great for highlighting and illuminating.”

Jewel tones are also expected to be a big color trend for 2021, with tones such as Azure, Amber, Amethyst, Sapphire and Jade increasing in popularity among Envato customers over the last 12 months.

Jewel Tones Collection

Inspired by precious and semi-precious gemstones, such as Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald, jewel tones are typically deep and slightly muted with a high color saturation, making them an especially dynamic design element.

To integrate gold and jewel tones into your next design, check out this Connected – Landing Page by cerpow, these Silver & Gold Foil Textures by M-e-f, or this Amethyst crystal druse by Edalin on Envato Elements.

4. Organized Chaos

Cyber Punk Collage by Henry Flores
Cyber Punk Collage by Henry Flores

Combining the chaos of anti-design with the organized structure of minimalism, the cutting edge ‘Organized Chaos’ design trend is all about finding method in madness. 

Described as both ‘ugly’ and ‘hideous’, the anti-design movement of 2020 embraced the unattractive in protest of the traditional standards of ‘good’ design. However, due to the global crisis and the stress it has brought, people are now craving a calmer style of design moving into 2021. 

While brutalism and anti-design are still in favor, we predict that designers will leave the the ugliness behind, and take elements of these chaotic styles – such as asymmetrical layouts, collage, layering and experimental typography – and integrate them with more simplistic, minimalist styles, such as white space and monochrome color palettes

“The anti-design style has been a great outlet this year for designers to experiment and blow off steam in what’s been a very turbulent year,” says Envato Digital Designer Camilla Anderson. “It also came off the back of years of design becoming more and more minimal, and for some, just plain boring. I don’t think this phase of experimentation is over just yet, but with many brands feeling the effects of the global pandemic I think we can expect to see somewhat more conservative designs moving forward.”

Silver social media pack and templates

5. Diversity & Representation

Uber Women's Safety Guidelines by xoana herrera
Uber Women’s Safety Guidelines by xoana herrera

With the increased focus on social, political and environmental issues across the world in 2020, diversity and representation in design will be a big focus for 2021 and beyond.

Throughout 2020, we saw a growth in demand for images that illustrated an inclusive and diverse society. Many designers are stepping up their game and making more of an effort to include a wider, more diverse range of people and issues in their work –  such as in these Uber Women’s Safety Guidelines by xoana herrera, this diverse illustration by @haleydrewthis and the diverse work of 3D Illustrator and Envato author Amrit Pal Designs.

Whether it be through broader representation of race, backgrounds, body types, religious beliefs and sexual orientations, destigmatising mental health, or even standing up for social, political and environmental issues, 2021 is going to be a pivotal year for diversity in design

“Designers and marketers have such a huge opportunity to help change perception by influencing the images we see in our everyday lives, especially when it comes to diversity, body positivity, gender stereotypes, and the LGBTIQ+ community,” explains Camilla. “By making a considered effort to show a wide and diverse range of people in the content we put out into the world, we help to normalize this representation and challenge perceptions.”

To read up on more design trends pegged for the year ahead, visit our design trends predictions for 2021!

Keeping on top of the latest and greatest web design trends, styles and innovations is key for ensuring your website, or web business, stands out in the ever-expanding online ecosystem. 

So, from dark mode to interactivity, which web design trends will take the web by storm over the next year? We asked our experts for their take on the top web design trends to watch out for in 2021

1. Dark Mode

Apple Dark Mode
Dark Mode – Apple Homepage

A web design trend already adopted by big brands such as Apple, Hublot, and even individual design portfolios like Clock Strikes Twelve, the dark mode trend really took hold of web design in 2020 and we predict it will continue to grow in 2021. 

What Is Dark Mode? 

Dark Mode - Clock Strikes Twelve Homepage
Dark Mode – Clock Strikes Twelve Homepage

As well as being sleek, chic and easier on the eyes, dark mode is a web design style that is great for increasing contrast and making design elements more visible. Allowing designers to play with more creative elements, such as pastels and neon – two of the big graphic design trends of 2020 – dark mode is better for battery life, reduces blue light exposure and adds a trendy, sophisticated touch to any website. 

“Dark mode is the hottest trend right now and is not going away in 2021,” says Envato Content Specialist, Stephen Cronin. “Expect more sites and apps to offer a dark mode to users. Not only does it give a modern feel, it saves both our batteries and our eyes!” 

2. Collage & Mixed Media

Collage - City Circus Homepage
Collage – City Circus Homepage

Mixed Media and collage were some of the biggest trends to take over the graphic design and social media landscape this year, and the mixed media trend has quickly caught on in the world of web design. 

A style that was originally driven by digital artists and social media influencers, mixed media is now being used in the websites of many brands – including Chobani, Chit Chart, City Circus and Urban Outfitters

What Is Collage?

Collage is all about mixing mediums such as photos, illustrations, graphics, motion and text to create an inspiring and eye-catching design. 

Now that it’s moved into the digital realm, the collage trend has evolved to encompass mixed media such as animated collage, large decorative fonts, artistic textures (such as paint brush strokes) and even animated distorted text, which generate some incredibly unique results.

“The concept of overlaying graphic elements on photos is not new, but it’s really taken off this year and will only get more popular in 2021,” says Stephen. “And, it’s never been easier! People will be unleashing their creativity across the wider web and on social media and we can be sure that websites will get in on the action.” 

To integrate the mixed media trend into your next web design, check out these great collage-inspired items such as this Splashes Creative Agency Template by CreativeWS, this Artist Tape Variety Pack by featherandsage, or this Geometrical Collage Generator – Photoshop Plugin by bangingjoints.

3. Anti-Design

Anti Design - Play Type Homepage
Anti Design – Play Type Homepage

Spurred on by the resurgence of Brutalism in 2019, the controversial anti-design trend is still going strong in the web design world. 

Described as ‘unapologetic’ and ‘hideous’, the anti-design movement is all about embracing chaos and ugliness, featuring experimental and asymmetrical layouts, exaggeration, distortion, layering and traditionally ‘ugly’ elements. 

Many web designers are now dabbling in the bizarre world of anti-design, which can be seen in the chaotic yet quirky website designs of Play Type and XXIX. However, its controversial nature may suggest that anti-design is here for a good time, not a long time.

Anti Design - XXIX Homepage
Anti Design – XXIX Homepage

“Anti-Design will be an interesting one to watch,” Stephen muses. “Asymmetric layouts are here to stay throughout 2021, as they make things seem more human and a little more unique. But will the more confronting aspects of anti-design still resonate with people after quite a confronting year in 2020, or will they want something softer?” 

While this style is sure to turn heads, any effective website still needs to be user friendly. So try to balance anti-design in your UI with a simple and functional UX design

4. Illustration

Illustration - PayPal Homepage
Illustration – PayPal Homepage

Illustration has absolutely exploded across web design this year – and it’s not going anywhere in 2021. Plenty of brands and creators are catching on to the popularity of illustration and digital art, with many now integrating hand-drawn elements into their website designs – including the likes of health insurance company AHM and PayPal.

The reason why Illustrations work so well for web design, is because they immediately add a crafty, authentic touch and personalized feel. However, as Google’s Core Web Vitals continue to impact website performance, it’s more important than ever to ensure those digital illustrations are as high quality as possible. 

Illustration - AHM Homepage
Illustration – AHM Homepage

“Illustration will continue to be a popular trend well into 2021,” says Stephen. “Although, site owners will become more aware of the performance impact now that Google is making their Core Web Vitals part of their ranking signal. Cool illustrations? Yes please! But let’s make sure the file size is optimized.”

To integrate illustration into your web designs, check out this collection of 3D illustrations, or  take a look at some of the great illustrations on Envato Elements – such as this Order online – colorful flat design style banner by BoykoPictures, this Program coding landing page website illustration by nanoagency, or this Website Illustration – Landing Page by TanahAirStudio

5. 3D & Geometric Design

3D Floating Objects - The Artery Homepage
3D Floating Objects – The Artery Homepage

Modernizing the use of classic flat shapes such as polygons, diamonds, rectangles, triangles, and the occasional rhombus, the 3D geometric web design trend has evolved to include 3D shapes and futuristic floating objects

Blending surreal motion with realistic objects, the mesmerizing, futuristic effect of 3D Geometric design is a great way to ensure your website captivates visitors  – as seen in this site by The Artery, which pairs geometric elements with minimalist, simple gridlines. You can take this trend to the next level by adding interactive 3D elements too. 

3D Floating Objects - The Artery Design Lab Page
3D Floating Objects – The Artery Design Lab Page

“Interactive 3D elements are going to be hot in 2021, giving users an interesting new way to interact with a site and keep them engaged,” Stephen explains. “However, this needs to be implemented in a performant way, especially as Google makes Core Web Vitals part of their ranking signal.”

Connected - Landing Page by cerpow
Connected – Landing Page by cerpow

For more web design trends predictions visit our deep dive on the world of web design in 2021.

What sounds are currently trending as we head into 2021? From podcast music to sound effects, here are the top audio styles and trends to keep an ear out for over the coming year…

1. Podcasting

Podcasting has absolutely exploded over the last few years. From film reviews and sporting analysis, to true crime and business advice, podcast enthusiasts now have the opportunity to tune in to a diverse range of audio offerings from across the world with the tap of a finger. 

“If you have any kind of hobby or interest, there’s a podcast about it,” says Envato Audio Content Specialist, Adrien Gardener. “Podcasts are natural fits for all kinds of audio, various musical styles and countless sound effects, for mood, impact and branding. With the explosion in this niche showing no signs of stopping, there’s going to be an ongoing increase in demand for podcast audio for a long time to come.”

When it comes to creating a successful podcast, choosing a catchy audio track and recognizable sound effects is key for hooking your audience. A good podcast track sets the scene, so if you’re looking for the perfect podcast accompaniment, check out this round up of the top 10 best podcast tracks. Or if you want to learn how to create your own podcast, check out our step-by-step podcast guide.

Ready to hook those listeners in with your next podcast? Try out this Upbeat Podcast Intro by JBlanks, State Of Advert by petrenj or this Heavy Rock Intro by Wolf_Music.

2. Retro Audio

As a result of our love of nostalgia, retro audio is making a big comeback. 70s hit ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac has fast become a TikTok sensation, and even retro sound effects are coming back around, such as these rock and pop sounds of the 80s and retro arcade sounds.

With most contemporary musicians now selling their music in record form, the popularity of vinyl has gone through the roof. Trendy 90s cassette tapes are making their way back into the mainstream too, and even modular synthesizers are returning to the spotlight. 

“What was old is new again! Tapping into the deeply entrenched emotions we carry for all things nostalgic, pairing tried tested and timeless music styles from the past is a sure fire way to attach a sense of comfort to new visuals,” Adrien explains. “First it was the ‘70s, then the ‘80s, and ‘90s. Time marches on – and so does Retro!” 

2020 mix tape mockup

If you wanna go retro with your next video, podcast or design, try out 90s Alternative Rock by AurusMusic, this Psychedelic 60’s Ident by AndySlatter or this 80s Pop Synth Wave by AurusAudio. Or, check out our handy guide to all things retro

3. Sound Effects

Dating back to the early days of radio in the 1930s, sound effects have always been the bread and butter of multimedia. Now widely featured in film, videos, music, video games and even podcasts, sound effects are an essential audio tool for creating mood and atmosphere.

“The fastest growing type of audio search out there is Sound Effects. It’s on fire,” says Adrien. “2021 will not slow down, anything you can think of (almost) makes a sound! Game sounds, nature sounds, human sounds, cartoon sounds and way way more… Oh and by the way, Envato Elements just happens to have the biggest subscription sound effects library – ever.“ 

Ranging from common sound effects such as laughter or nature sounds, to everyday noises like a paper bag explosion or a seat belt buckling, there really is a sound effect out there for every kind of project. But, what are the most popular sound effects catching our ears this year?

According to Envato Product Marketing Specialist Bianca Pellizzari, four out of five of the most downloaded sounds on MixKit are transition sound effects such as whoosh, swoosh, sweep and zap! Other classic sound effects such as game effects, applause, keyboard typing, and birds chirping are also in the top 10 most downloaded sounds, but transition sound effects are without a doubt the big trend for 2021. 

If you want to add some sound effects for your next video or podcast, try this Infographics Video Sound Effects Pack, Nature Forest Atmosphere by JiltedGeneration and this Fire Burning Loop by urbazon. Or head over to Envato Elements to browse our huge library of over 420k sounds.

4. Travel (Yes, Really!)

With our audio trend predictions for 2020 consisting of sports and travel, this year’s global crisis and the international lockdowns that came with it shows that there are some things you can never predict! Instead, one of the biggest audio trends for 2020 was actually ‘happy’ – proving that even in times of darkness, we will always find the light. 

But, with the world hoping to go back to some sense of normalcy in 2021, Envato Audio Specialist Adrien Gardner predicts that travel audio will re-enter the arena in the new year, whether it be inspirational for some countries or aspirational for others.

Beach scene at sundown

Adrien explains: “At different paces, at different rates, the world will begin to peek ahead to the future again, where borders begin to open up as travel begins looking attractive once more. The familiar sound of upbeat, happy, “take me anywhere today” tunes will start creeping back onto the musical map in 2021 – pun intended.”  

To get inspired for your next adventure, check out these great travel audio tracks – Upbeat Indie Rock by JohnRosso, Desert Flower by Basspartout and Future Bass Travel Vlog by Bransboynd

To learn more about the audio trending for 2021 and beyond, check out the 5 Biggest Music and Audio Trends on Social Media!

We’ve said it once, we’ve said it twice, we’ll say it a hundred times – video is the most engaging form of content online. But with 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, 500 million people now using Instagram Stories daily, and SO much video content floating around online, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of the latest video trends to ensure you’re ahead of the curve.

So, how can videographers and creators stand out and take their videos to the next level this year? We spoke to our Envato experts to find out the top video trends they’re predicting to reel-y take off in 2021…

1. Interactive Video

The Jungle Book Interactive
The Jungle Book Interactive

A style of content that’s as new as it is exciting, interactive video is perhaps the most cutting edge video trend on the scene for 2021.

What Is Interactive Video?

As the name suggests, interactive video is a new form of video that allows viewers to directly interact with the content they’re viewing. In particular, shoppable videos are set to become a big interactive video and eCommerce trend in the coming year. 

Enabling the viewer to purchase items directly from the video they’re watching, big corporations like Amazon, YouTube and Instagram have already started to launch shoppable videos on their platforms. 

“Shoppable Video takes the interactive video idea and commercializes it, allowing customers to shop as they watch,” says Envato Video Marketing Specialist, Jen McKinnon. “The technology is already out there but, in 2021, it’s likely to really gain steam as brands continue to zero in on video as a valuable marketing tool.” 

The Jungle Book also recently released an interactive video allowing viewers to go behind the scenes, and Netflix’s original interactive film, Bandersnatch, took the Internet by storm when it allowed viewers to choose their own ending.

Plus, platforms such as Instagram are now allowing video creators to add quizzes, polls or reactions to their videos or live streams to make them more interactive. 

2. Live Video

During the global crisis, live video became the savior for many people and industries due to its convenience, relatability, and accessibility. Now, heading into 2021, the live video trend shows no signs of slowing down.

“While Live Video is not a new trend, we are set to see it shine on in 2021, as audiences continue to crave and demand authenticity,” explains Jen. “On social media, live video can provide a rare glimpse into the lives of celebrities, a behind-the-scenes look at top brands or an opportunity to interact more closely with our favorite online personalities. Going Live can also boost brand credibility for businesses who are positioning themselves as an authority in a particular field as it provides a platform to demonstrate immediate knowledge.” 

As a result of its rising popularity, many brands are jumping on the live video bandwagon. MTV have been going live on Instagram with their #AloneTogether jam sessions; makeup megastore Sephora has been using Facebook Live to stream live makeup tutorials; and even NASA is using YouTube Live to live stream news about scientific discovery and aeronautics research.

But, due to the raw and unfiltered nature of live videos, Envato Video Expert Mark Brodhuber suggests putting a little more effort into their presentation if you want to stand out from the crowd. 

“Both Shoppable video and Live videos really benefit from being dressed up a bit,” says Mark. “Using on-screen graphics, producers can take their videos to the next level by emphasizing the areas of the screen that they want users to focus on. Our Broadcast Packages, and Social Media categories within Video Templates offer a massive variety of layouts that come with animated graphics to showcase products or information, while providing ample space for footage or video to be displayed at the same time.”

3. Ephemeral & Vertical Video

Over the past few years, social media has dominated our online lives. As a result, both vertical and ephemeral video are becoming the norm and trending both on and off social media platforms. 

What Is Ephemeral Video? 

Ephemeral videos are only accessible temporarily – usually for 24 hours – before they disappear forever. Popularized by the likes of Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram Stories, the quick-fix, limited-time nature of ephemeral video makes them effective, engaging and incredibly addictive. In fact, Instagram now has over 1 billion monthly active users worldwide, with 500 million accounts using Instagram Stories every day.  

Example of an Instagram Story

Another trend that’s emerged thanks to social media is vertical video. Once limited to our Instagram feeds, vertical videos are now everywhere – including Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and even YouTube ads. And it’s not just social media – vertical video is even making its way into cinema. Posted by Apple, Damien Chazelle’s short film “The Stunt Double” is a journey through cinema history reimagined for the vertical screen and shot on iPhone 11 Pro. 

“Over the last few years we’ve seen a shift in the consumption of media, with people now spending more time per day using a mobile phone than watching television,” says Mark. “Adding the explosive growth of video-based social platforms like Instagram Stories, Reels, TikTok and Snapchat, users now expect short, succinct and to-the-point video content. And because we’re talking about mobile consumption, the preferred orientation is trending towards vertical video.” 

4. Short Form Video

Over the last few years, short-form video has become a staple of our social feeds. And in 2021, we predict that short-form videos will become the norm on and off social media.

The explosion of TikTok and launch of Instagram Reels in 2020 fuelled the short-form video trend, with big brands such as Louis Vuitton and Sephora using the feature to promote their products. Even big names such as MAC Cosmetics and the NBA  jumped on the TikTok trend, with many more following suit. 

“If you want to stay ahead of the game and front of mind, it’s crucial to jump on new features, like Reels for Instagram,” says Envato Product Marketing Specialist Madeleine Rochecouste. “If Instagram is your main social media platform or if you create content regularly, you should consider creating or repurposing your content for Reels.” 

5. Personalized Video

In a world where consumers are bombarded by between 5,000 and 10,000 ads a day, it’s no surprise that personalized video is pegged to be the next big thing. 

What Is Personalized Video?

Personalized videos incorporate an individual’s personal details – such as their name, email address, age or profile picture – to create content specifically for them. Personalized videos are often created using a base video, which is then edited with video effects that sub in a recipient’s personal information. 

Many big brands are jumping on personalized video, such as Cadbury’s Facebook video campaign that allows users to create a personalized video using data pulled from their account, and Breast Cancer Now’s ‘Wear It Pink’ personalized video marketing campaign

“Personalized video is an emerging trend that aims to improve customer engagement by tailoring the viewing experience to include dynamic information relevant to the viewer,” Mark Brodhuber explains. “They’re generally achieved through the addition of on-screen graphics, and companies that publish personalized video content have reported an increase in engagement and conversions by up to 20%.”  

To get a bit more personal in your next video, check out these Pop Lower thirds by Media_Stock, these Big Bold Titles | FCPX & Apple Motion by Space-Dog and this Christmas and New Year Opener 2021!

Global crisis or not, everyone knows that marketing trends move at the speed of light. With new technologies and tactics emerging on the daily, the way we attract, connect, and market to our audiences is constantly changing. So much so, that sometimes it can be hard to keep up!

Now, nearing the end of one of the most unpredictable years in history, some big and exciting new marketing trends have started to emerge. From social commerce to brand activism, here are the Marketing Trends we’re predicting for 2021…

1. Social Commerce

It’s no secret that social media is now the biggest and one of the most beneficial platforms for online marketing. And with the introduction of Facebook Shops, Instagram shops, and Pinterest Shopping Ads, social commerce and shoppable posts are set to become a huget marketing and e-commerce trend over the coming year. 

Research shows that 71% of consumers turn to social media for shopping inspiration, with 55% of online shoppers now making the majority of their purchases through social media channels. In response to this increased demand from social media users, brands like Uniqlo, Ikea and Hey Tiger are already jumping on the social commerce trend.

“Earlier this year, Facebook announced its latest eCommerce play, Facebook and Instagram Shops,” says Envato’s Content Marketing Manager Julia Fernandez. “It takes some time for these things to roll out, so we’d expect to see adoption of the new tools among small businesses in 2021. Given that many brick and mortar businesses have pivoted online in 2020, this could be an interesting alternative for brands looking to connect with customers.”

2. Brand Activism

With the rise of political, social and environmental activism across the world throughout 2020, there’s been a natural increase in brand activism, as well as ‘content for good’ and social responsibility. 

Many big brands and businesses have taken to social media to take a stand on important issues this year. Reebok, Nike, Netflix supported the Black Lives Matter movement via social media, and some brands have funnelled activism into branding, and even products – such as Pure Gold’s 6 For 6-Pack and and Ben & Jerry’s ‘Unfudge our Future’ campaign. 

A trend that we predict to carry well into 2021 and beyond, brand activism is helping to raise the profile of important conversations online. 

“Less of a trend and more of a social responsibility, brand activism is now on the rise with brands speaking up about social and environmental issues that resonate with their consumers,” says Jo Birleson, Envato’s Social Media Specialist. “It shows that brands are committed to the issues that people care most about, often driving brands and people to become activists for the first time, which is incredibly uplifting. What matters most though, is that brands are authentic in their activism.” 

3. User-Generated Content

Since the rise of influencer marketing back in 2016, user generated content has become a key aspect of many marketing strategies. And while by no means a new trend, it’s set to continue growing in 2021.

Due to lockdown and social distancing restrictions this year, there’s been a big increase in UGC as more brands adapted to the digital landscape and looked to their customers to create the content they want to see. The Iconic utilised UGC for their Mother’s Day campaign, which featured images and footage of real mothers at home in lockdown, and ModCloth even gave customers the option to shop via UGC on their website. 

With social media now a sea of sponsored posts and unattainable lifestyles, there’s been an appetite for more ordinary people, lifestyles and experiences – especially during this year of crisis and social change. And with UGC proven to outperform brand-created content, enlisting customers to not only generate your content but also market it for you, is undeniably a fantastic marketing strategy. 

“UGC is like the new school ‘word of mouth’ for marketing,” explains Jo. “People engage with it more because let’s face it, nothing says trust and authenticity like content created by users and consumers about a brand or product. For a brand it is so valuable as it is just like feedback – a reflection of the consumer’s experience. It humanises the brand, shows that people get excited about it and empowers the consumer. Not to mention, more often than not, some of the most incredibly creative content comes from our users who don’t have the same limitations we have as brands.”

To repurpose the content of your customers or brand fans, check out this Freestyle Slideshow by Proskurovskiy, or this Fashion Energy Opener by efline fromEnvato Elements. Or, to incorporate UGC into your videos and presentations, try this Lux Photo & Video Slideshow 4K V2 by FVS or this Multi-Purpose Slideshow II by framestore.

4. Self-Aware Marketing

As people continue questioning the authenticity of the barrage of advertising they see everyday, self-aware marketing has become a hot trend. Centered around adverts that poke fun at themselves and the concept of advertising in general, self-aware marketing uses a mixture of transparency, honesty and ‘reverse psychology’ to sell products. 

Plenty of big brands have started waking up to the concept of self-aware marketing over the last few years – such as Swedish oat milk brand Oatly, who caught consumers’ attention all over the world in 2018 with their range of hilarious OOH posters, billboards and social posts. In 2020, tons of brands started using self-aware marketing on their socials, including Marmite, whose social posts blatantly point out the fact that some people hate their product.

“Self aware marketing is not new, but it’s a trend that addresses two things that I believe audiences in 2021 will care about more than ever: humor and authenticity,” says Julia. “Brands that employ meta marketing tactics imply that they don’t take themselves too seriously (think the McDonald’s Signature Collection served up on a posh platter) and admit honestly that there is an exchange of goods or services for money taking place (as drinks brand Oasis did in their  “You need to chill. We need to sell” ad).

As well as signalling that you respect your customers and wouldn’t try and pull the wool over their eyes, self aware marketing also enables you to put your product front and center. A great example of this product placement is 3M’s clever billboard installation where they demonstrated the power of their duct tape in a very literal way.”

5. Nostalgia Marketing

Described as ‘the advertising equivalent of comfort food’, nostalgia marketing has really taken off over the last year and shows no signs of slowing down in 2021. 

Instead of anticipating the next great thing, nostalgia marketing urges us to use the familiarity of the old to sell the innovation of the new. Nostalgia is so powerful that it’s actually proven to make us more willing to spend money on consumer goods and service – making it a perfect marketing strategy. 

Put into play by huge brands such as Nike, Pepsi, Gucci – as well as Cheetos, Discover and Mountain Dew in their incredible nostalgia marketing ads featured at the 2020 Super Bowl – nostalgia marketing has only been further fuelled by the unpredictable and unprecedented events of 2020

“Our love of nostalgia went into overdrive in 2020 when we spent more time indoors, rewatching our favorite movies and boxsets,” says Julia. “Even Gen Z viewers, who didn’t experience the show the first time round, have been indulging in Friends marathons. Brands have capitalized on nostalgia in their marketing, which was evident at this year’s Super Bowl. Nostalgia marketing is familiar, comforting, and safe–and who doesn’t want a bit of that right about now? Just as retro design isn’t going anywhere fast, expect to see a blast from the past around every corner in 2021.”

With retro now trending in almost every industry, there’s no denying that nostalgia is a powerful tool that helps people to recontextualize themselves in today’s world, garner a sense of purpose and approach the future with a hopeful outlook.

Envato Video Marketing Specialist Jen McKinnon agrees: “Retro is back (or perhaps it never really left)! We’re seeing references to the past all over, from design styles to revived advertising concepts and even references to pop culture of the past. The power of nostalgia in marketing really comes from the fact that there is something inherently ‘known’ to the consumer, which, when associated with your brand, builds a connection that could otherwise have taken years to forge.” 

To jump on board the nostalgia marketing trend, try out this Arcade Logo 2 by SebicheArgentino, this Back to 90s Instagram Pack by aiyari, or these Cult Titles Trailer Constructor by xFxDesigns

Want to stay on top of your marketing game? Read up on the full list of Marketing Trends predicted for 2021

And that’s a wrap on our Creative Trends Predictions for 2021! To look back on the year that was, check out our Mid Year Trend Review for 2020, or track back to where it all began with our Creative Trends predictions for 2020!