Empathy, ethics and new realities - the way your brand will work in 2019


2018 was a year that our love affair with tech took a beating. Fake news. Social media conspiracies and corruption. Robots stealing our jobs. Phones turning us into zombies.

Inevitably, this year people will crave more meaningful experiences, less intrusive tech, brands that show true empathy and businesses that are truly ethical.  

In other words, brands they can trust.

These are ideas we’ve been throwing around a lot at Huddle over the past month or two.

Before I disappeared on my travels down under last month, our very own Sophie attended an awesome Trendwatching event, looking at some of these emerging global trends and what the impact on businesses will be in 2019.

At the same time, our monthly Brandflakes round table on Digital Transformation covered a lot of the same ground.

Following some fascinating conversations, I’ve pulled out what we think are some of the key trends and most inspiring ideas brands can use to build trust and spark new opportunities this coming year.


As I discussed last week, we’re all in the empathy profession, but some brands have really proved they understand the needs of their customers, using empathy to create personalised experiences that truly meet their needs.

Morrisons: Supermarket chain's 'quiet hour' recognises needs of autistic shoppers

Microsoft: Packaging for disability-friendly games controller gets easy-to-open design

Asos: Etailer uses AR to show outfits on different body types

New realities

People are craving experiences in the real world. Where it becomes interesting is how brands are using technology to create immersive experiences where real and imagined worlds collide.

Nike: in 2018 they captured their fans imaginations by allowing them to create avatars to queue for virtual sneaker drop

Le Louvre museum: Museum launches tour based on Beyoncé and Jay-Z music video, an interesting way to use something virtual to promote something real

Fortnite: Players spend 300 million USD per month on in-game resources. They blurred real VS online worlds by displaying Fortnite mascots in the middle of the Californian desert, or in the middle of Paris with the aim of sparking people’s attention & get some buzz. Consumers shortly realised it was a clever marketing action from Fortnite in order to promote their latest game.


In 2019 progressive consumers will welcome the ‘law of the brand’ and give loyalty to organisations that are ethical and unbiased.

97% of consumers expect brands to use technology ethically; 94% say if not, then governments should step in - We Communications Sept 18

86% believe companies should take a stand on social issues - Shelton Group May 18

87% would buy a product based on a company's advocacy on an issue they care about - Cone Communications CSR Study 2017

Twitter: Social platform announce major algorithm in bid to tackle harassment

Forbes Brazil: AI creates composite criminal to draw attention to Brazil's corruption and change people’s perception of criminals

WWF + Ivory Lane: Fake luxury brand promotes nonprofit's ivory trade awareness campaign and raise awareness around law loopholes

Bjorn Borg: Brand uses AR to raise awareness of LGBT rights

Beauty Counter: Sales representatives fight for improved regulation in the beauty industry

Microsoft: Company requires suppliers to offer parental leave to staff, setting expectations beyond their internal teams, trying to shift the industry mindset and raise its standards


So there we have it, there are some real gems here.

After a year where tech got such a bad name, it’s encouraging to see the many ways it can still enhance people’s reality. As well as examples of brands that are making the world better for everyone.

For 2019, it will be more important than ever to use empathy to humanise our brands, our services and our technology. And using technology to empower, rather than overpower people’s lives.

But, how do you disrupt your market without breaking your brand?

This is the question we’re going to answering at our upcoming Brandflakes breakfast masterclass.

We’re bringing together our usual eclectic mix of leaders in their field to share their experiences and taking a look at customer-centric brands that have succeeded in gaining traction through innovation.

If you fancy joining a future breakfast session, find out more here: www.huddlecreative.com/brandflakes

Best wishes,