Interbrand Launches “2021 Breakthrough Brands” Report Highlighting The 30 Challenger Brands Set To Disrupt The US Market

Interbrand – the world’s leading brand consultancy – launched its “Breakthrough Brands 2021” report, unveiling the 30 brands set to revolutionize the US market.

From mobile banking developed specifically for Black and Latinx customers (Greenwood Bank) and mental health treatments (ATAI Life Sciences) to secure messaging services (Signal) and plant-derived produce coatings (Apeel), Interbrand predicts these challenger brands have got what it takes to become household names.

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This year’s Breakthrough Brands cohort follows in the footsteps of A24, Oatly!, Snowflake (2020), Instacart, Slack (2017), Square and Glossier (2016) tipped for success in Interbrand’s previous reports.

The brands also reflect the broader context of a tumultuous year, with businesses required to experiment and be resilient in response to a global pandemic, social justice movements and a highly contentious election cycle. These growth-stage companies have a new set of challenges to contend with as we enter a ‘new reality’ post-pandemic.

Five themes of innovation emerge from the 2021 Breakthrough Brands:

  • Power in Representation: The impact and momentum of Black Lives Matter has had ripple effects on the corporate world and given momentum behind companies who focus on increasing representation and diversity in different categories. Brands like Greenwood Bank, Omsom, SpringHill Company and BREAD Beauty Supply are changing the conversations around how these communities are spoken to, represented and empowered.
  • Flipping the Focus on Preventative Health: Even in spite of Covid, new brands and technologies are democratizing healthcare – making monitoring and diagnostics available to those on lower incomes, with less comprehensive insurance and the time-poor. Healthy.io, Butterfly Network and Owlet are key to fixing this critical aspect of the healthcare lifecycle, helping lift the pressure and impact on the entire healthcare system.
  • Tackling Taboos: A long time in the making (Thinx is a 2016 Breakthrough Brands alumni), we are seeing an explosion of brands in the personal care space bring empowerment and acceptance of our very human issues. With the likes of Starface, Megababe and Frida Mom, taboo’s have never been more mainstream.
  • Easing Parenthood Anxieties: Thanks to Covid, the lack of intergenerational networks providing support and wisdom means millennial parents feel like they are alone in this new phase. Young start-ups including Frida Mom, Owlet and Lovevery are taking on this role, helping navigate this vulnerable transition into parenthood and providing reassurance throughout childhood.
  • Gaming Everything: Gaming is no longer a stereotyped, niche activity – it is bleeding into different industries and impacting the design aesthetic of brands. We are seeing playful characters, 3D illustrations and immersive brand worlds, from Discord and Dapper Lab’s ‘gamification’ of communication and blockchain respectively, to Zwift’s game-like landscapes and Revolut’s graphics and brand identity.

Zwift CEO and Co-Founder, Eric Min said: “My idea for Zwift was born out of a problem I faced personally – the lack of social connection using cycling simulators. Using the power of massively multiplayer gaming technology, we’ve created a social fitness environment that lets you train, explore and compete with other ‘Zwifters’ from all over the world. Thanks to the wonderful community on Zwift, we’ve managed to create a true social network. I think it’s important for a business to have a positive social impact, so we’re proud to be in Interbrand’s report with the other brands making big changes.”

Daniel Binns, CEO, Interbrand New York said: “We are thrilled to be unveiling Interbrand’s 2021 Breakthrough Brands. Following a tumultuous year for business across most sectors, this year’s brands really are something special. In increasingly difficult circumstances, these brands have launched, pivoted, survived and even thrived. They are more than ready to follow in the footsteps of the Breakthrough Brands alumni.”

Naeiri Zargarian, Associate Strategy Director at Interbrand New York said: “This new class of Breakthrough Brands give an indication of the themes that will shape a post-pandemic world. The past year surfaced cultural tensions that will continue to be opportunities for brands and institutions; the realities of modern parenthood, inclusivity and representation across categories and a willingness to tackle historically taboo topics.”

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Interbrand’s Breakthrough Brands 2021 report is compiled via qualitative and quantitative research tools, including analysis of social listening data (gathered in partnership with Infegy, C Space) and investment data (gathered by Apollo, with consultation from Blackstone Growth).

Interbrand has selected the 30 companies that best exemplify brand growth from a list of over 400. Brands were selected against three core criteria: understanding human truths (with key indicators including social post volume and growth), creating exceptional brand experiences (brands that answer unmet consumer needs) and delivering superior business results.