20 Words For 2020


It’s a new year and a new decade. So here are 20 fresh concepts, ideas and inspirations from our global team to spark some brand new thoughts.


Shortform content has emerged as a preference for Gen Z audiences across all genres; it is characterized by highly engaging, abbreviated and concise narratives or storylines, augmented or complemented by interactivity or rich media. Shortform mobile video content platform Quibi (short for ‘quick bites’) is due to be launched in April 2020 and may change everything.

Ashish Mishra, Managing Director, Mumbai


Dictionary.com chose ‘existential’ as its Word of the Year, saying that increased searches for the term shows how we are grappling with the literal and figurative survival of our planet, our loved ones and our ways of life. Functional benefits are key to selling products, but have you considered taking a look at your brand from 10,000+ feet up? How can your brand find optimism in a time of existentialism?

Michael Mendieta, Associate Creative Director, Verbal Identity, New York


In 2020, for the first time in history, the median age will be older than 30. An aging population will change everything, especially one that’s staying healthier for longer. While marketers have long focused on youth markets, they may need to look again at the opportunities an ageing population presents.

Sophie Gaskill, Global Brand Director, London


It’s what ‘we’ do together that will make a real difference – as businesses, institutions and individuals. This has already been signaled in some forward-thinking businesses’ commitments to stakeholder vs purely shareholder value. In the decade of ‘we’, the brands that will thrive are those that are most collaborative and open.

Rebecca Robins, Global Chief Learning and Culture Officer, London


A new word which, while Swedish, has a truly global meaning; it describes ‘flight shame’ – being embarrassed about flying and opting for trains (or boats) instead. Greta Thunberg is, of course, the poster child for this. Smart brands should take note of the fact that travel has suddenly grown a moral dimension.

Chris Maillard, Senior Brand Journalist, London


We’re finding fewer moments of mass connection – the TV ‘watercooler moments’ of the old days, or the new film everybody talked about at the same time – uniting us as a monoculture. While there’s more content available than ever before, people are not consuming it simultaneously. Is there an opportunity for a smart brand to restart the phenomenon of socially meaningful media consumption?

Daniel Binns, Chief Executive Officer, New York

小康 (Xiaokang)

Chinese leaders have long earmarked 2020 as the year when the country is supposed to become Xiaokang: ‘moderately prosperous’. This is the rather uninspiring term for the laudable aim of lifting every Chinese citizen above the poverty line. A challenge that is proving difficult to meet, with inequality as rife as elsewhere, but one that could transform the society and the brands that serve it.

Howard Chen, General Manager, Shanghai


Impossible is the wildly successful manufacturer of non-meat ‘meat‘ products. It also seems like one of those brand names that is bound to transcend its IP and become a trademark-defying blanket term like Jeep, Tannoy and Hoover. Having first mover advantage and the highest profile in a market is not without its issues.

Lauren Wagner, Director, Client Services, New York


Brands and celebrities used to wield so much power that it bordered on arrogance. But in the social age, a boycott economy – ‘cancel culture’ – is emerging, in which social media users publicly call out the missteps of brands and celebrities. Today, you must make sure that your corporate actions align with your words or risk social cancellation

Christina Baker, Global Marketing Manager, Boston

طشه (Tashah)

This Arabic slang term traditionally meant ‘to spill’ or ‘to spread’ With increasing liberalization of Middle Eastern youth and a growing adoption of social media profiles in the Middle East, the term is coming to mean ‘online fame’ or ‘online brand’. The region has a distinctive, thriving, social media culture which is bound to bleed into the global conversation sooner rather than later.

Amadeus Redha, Global Marketing Manager, London


We are moving from the Internet of Things to the Intelligence of Things. Now many of our devices are connected via the internet we will start to focus on intelligence, both artificial and human, and how intelligent connectivity can provide real benefits by making our objects more efficient, personalized, diagnostic, predictive and monetizable.

Charles Trevail, Global Chief Executive Officer, New York


No longer restricted by wires or wi-fi networks – the wide, if somewhat delayed, roll-out of super-fast 5G in many territories will at last enable a whole new level of on-the-go functionality and connected content for mobile users. Will this be the decade that personal, mobile AR and VR devices and services fulfil their huge potential? This is as yet largely unexplored territory for brands, but maybe not for much longer.

Chris Nurko, Chief Innovation Officer, Interbrand Group, New York

선 (Sən)

The original meaning of the Korean word 선 – sən – was ‘a boundary to respect’. Korea has long regarded humility as a virtue, so this was considered a good thing. However, the word sən is now changing to ‘a boundary to transcend’. In an era of 5G where everything connects and all possibilities become reality, a brand that sets its own limits and does not challenge them will not succeed. Winning brands in 2020 must now cross boundaries, surprise, delight and exceed expectations..

Eunice Min, Chief Content Officer, Seoul


Added to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2019: “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise without the help of a partner: a solo entrepreneur.” This new spin on the idea of a sole trader or small business owner brings a question: What products, services, and information are brands providing to people who are taking incredible risks to see their dreams to fruition?

Andy Payne, Global Chief Creative Officer, London


For Gen Z life isn’t black and white, but a whole spectrum of options. Not just in terms of gender (as in the phrase ‘gender fluid’) but in sexuality, fashion, politics and many other areas, this group doesn’t like to see anything as binary. Being pinned down to one gender or choice is seen as limiting and even insulting. Brands which take too simplistic and rigid a view of their new consumers risk alienating them.

Naeiri Zargarian, Senior Strategist, New York


The global cannabis market has seen rapid growth recently and is projected to rise even higher in the coming years. One report, from Green Entrepreneur, forecasts $40bn sales worldwide by 2024. Another, from Grandview Research, projected that the global market will hit $66.3bn by the end of 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 23.9%. Yet another, from Mordor Intelligence, stated that the cannabis market, valued at USD $14.5bn in 2018, is projected to reach $89.1bn by 2024, with a CAGR of 37%. Whoever you believe, there’s no smoke without fire – it’s a big opportunity to establish new brands in such a fast-growing area.

Tina Goldstone, Marketing Manager, New York


Utterly excessive luxury – like for instance, the bespoke Rolls-Royce recently commissioned by a Swedish billionaire, at a mysterious but no doubt massive price. In not entirely unrelated news, the 500 richest people in the world saw their wealth increase by 25% in 2019. While economic inequality will drive many of the next decade’s social issues, for good or ill the super-rich are a big-spending market that is not going anywhere.

Caterina Piras, Marketing & Communications Manager, Milan


Alcohol-free ‘zero-proof’ drinks brands like Seedlip, Stryk Not Gin, Celtic Soul, and many 0% beers are leveraging health and wellness, religious scruples and work-related drug/alcohol testing in the first world, but also making inroads into a fast-growing Middle Eastern market, where the aim is being seen to consume prestige cocktails rather than consuming alcohol. New brands are being created daily in this area, but the market is still growing fast.

Chris Maillard, Senior Brand Journalist, London


A derogatory term which began by referring to ‘coastal elites’, perceived as being extra-sensitive. Now becoming a more common insult in an increasingly polarized world, it is applied to anybody who reacts strongly to real or implied criticism of their worldview, showing an angry backlash towards cultural sensitivity and extreme political correctness. This decade, marketers will have to navigate a highly complex minefield of personal sensitivities and their corresponding backlash.

Joe Stubbs, VP, Global Brand and Marketing Director, London


Brands that have made truth and transparency their lodestones are set to be the guiding lights of 2020 and beyond. In an era of ‘fake news’, ‘gaslighting’ and ‘astroturfing’, to name some o

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Brand Knew is an amalgam of the very finest, distilled essence from all over the world put together in an easy to consume, reflect, apply manner. It articulates, suggests, disseminates, shares, educates, provokes, inspires brand owners and brand professionals to take the next logical step in realising their branding goals.

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