Four key trends that will shape 2024 – and beyond

Tim Wood, executive creative director (ANZ) at Media.Monks, takes a look forward at four trends that will influence the future world of branding and marketing.

How’s 2023 been for you?

For me, there seems to be a sense of ‘returning to normal’, although what normal actually is now is anyone’s guess. But regardless, I feel there’s a tentative but growing sense of momentum. One indicator of this is the increasing occurrence of the number ‘2024’ on client marketing plans.

So in the spirit of keeping this train moving, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at the trends that are likely to bear significant influence on the world of branding and marketing.

It’s worth noting here that I’m not one for hyperbole, so I’m not suggesting anything is going to ‘change everything’ nor ‘kill anything’. They won’t. People are still people, and the principles of good brand building and advertising aren’t going anywhere. But understanding the undercurrents these trends exert promises to make our endeavours more impactful.

So, in no particular order, here are four important trends to get around if you want to win in 2024.


Put simply, this is the conflation of the physical and digital ‘self’. Depending on which research you look at, about one in three Gen Zers report they consider their digital ‘self’ to be a more accurate representation of who they are. This number is growing. And we’re now constantly connected, so there’s increasingly less distinction between who we are on- and off-line.

Traditional opinion (in other words, from people born pre-internet) would suggest that physical experiences are more authentic than digital ones because they’re ‘real’. Increasingly this kind of thinking is past its due date. For example, Pokemon celebrated its 25th anniversary by hosting a digital concert with none other than a digital Post Malone. It drew a live crowd of over 10 million fans, at once!

The implication, for marketers, is to realise that people place significant value on their digital selves. Who people are online — and who brands allow them to be — matters.

Digital experience and self-expression shouldn’t be underestimated. What are you doing to help customers better express who they are, virtually? How are you leveraging people’s sense of digital identity to build authentic and valued brand experiences?

Platform fluidity

Humans like to categorise stuff; we’re very good at pattern recognition. Of course, pattern recognition and mental labelling have served us well from an evolutionary standpoint. But this bias can blind us in other ways. One way is our inability to reassess facts once we’ve identified them.

For instance, when we think about categories like sports, fashion, gaming, eCommerce, education, advocacy, and technology, we tend to unconsciously see them as discrete topics. Increasingly, they’re not.

Many of these boundaries are collapsing, and people no longer see the lines.

One fantastic example is the work recently done by Maybelline, titled Through Their Eyes. Any regular girl gamer will tell you that playing online means putting up with a constant stream of male toxicity. To highlight the point, Maybelline challenged male gamers (with their voices modified) to play ‘as women’. The result was disappointingly eye opening. So we have a female fashion brand, stepping into the world of video games, while drawing attention to sexism.

And guess what? This campaign was also a massive commercial success. Sorry, where are those lines again?

Old-school delineations simply don’t exist the way they once did; listen closely and you can hear those traditional media plans creaking under the strain.

For marketers, it’s worth reinterrogating our opinions on media consumption and customers’ online behaviour.

Do you consider such things (and many more like them) separate? Are you treating customers differently, or ignoring them entirely, because of this?

Being “flaw-some”

In general, branding and advertising has always erred toward positive representation. We know people buy more when they’re happy, and brands almost always want to be associated with positivity. However, about a decade ago, things started to get interesting.

Driven by the increased connectivity and transparency brought about by the internet, brands started declaring (or have been forced to declare) their position on a wide range of socio/cultural issues not specifically related to their category. More recently, and in parallel, something else started changing. Some brands dropped advertising’s ‘veneer of perfection’ and showed things for what they are. Imperfect. Raw. Even painful.

Two stellar examples are Apple’s The Greatest, and Periodsomnia for Bodiform.

But, why are they incredible?

Aside from the insane levels of craftsmanship, both fully lean into imperfection, and that builds deep brand authenticity. Y

es, the Apple spot showcases their assisted technology suite, but I can assure the ad is aimed at more than just people with disabilities. Let me demonstrate – assuming you don’t personally need to use those features, how do you feel about Apple after watching that ad? You like them more, right?

To build mass brand affinity they chose to use what could uncontroversially be described as a ‘genuine celebration of disability’.


For marketers, we need to remember that things like realness and authenticity deeply resonate with people.

And they’re qualities which are typically absent in most of our branding and advertising, by design. Resist the initial urge to sugarcoat literally everything.

Which moments can we use to build a deeper connection with customers by being real? What truths can we hold up to show people what our brand truly stands for, or against?

Everything AI

Based on the sheer volume of discussion around AI and generative AI (GenAI), this is probably not a surprise.

But I want to be more specific, which I hope will be more helpful. AI is, of course, already everywhere. It’s likely you found this article thanks to an AI serving it to you. But what’s going to start to move very quickly in 2024 is how brands deploy GenAI to augment and upweight creative production.

TL;DR – You still need ideas. But how you make them is going to change.

Overseas, brands are scaling synthetic asset production and have essentially smashed that old ‘cheap/fast/good’ production model. You can have all three.

GenAI also affords us the ability to create highly personalised, crafted experiences. Two examples are The Weeknd who leveraged real-time GenAI to generate personalised video content based on your Spotify data, and Virgin Voyages, who cast Jennifer Lopez as JenAI (you see what they did there).

Does it feel like you’re already late to the AI party? If so, relax. Everyone is. Just don’t be too late. GenAI will revolutionise creative production (think the way Photoshop and digital technology did to film). That, in turn, opens up an incredible range of opportunities for clever marketers to engage in ways we previously couldn’t dream of.

But, start now. What pilot could you run to validate a proof of concept? Which streams of work do you have that would greatly benefit from GenAI automation?

Finally, why are these trends the ones that are going to have the most impact next year, and beyond?

Simple; because they already are.

This is less prediction and more highlighting what’s happening. As the world gets back to normal (sort of) we can reasonably expect these four trends to rapidly accelerate. So now’s the time to get around them.

Roll on 2024. It promises to be awesome.

Tim Wood is executive creative director (ANZ) at Media.Monks



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