Brand, localization, digital, design – we’ve asked our experts for their take on the global marketing trends set to shape 2020. Want to start the new decade on a high? Here’s what you need to know.

Mince pies, fireworks, global marketing reviews – just a few of our favourite end-of-year traditions. It’s a chance to reflect on progress and plan ahead for the new year.

As your thoughts turn to the 2020s, here are the top global marketing trends to watch out for, as chosen by our experts.


In 2019 the climate emergency finally took centre stage. ‘Sustainability’ became a buzzword as brands rushed to align themselves with changing consumer values and get to grips with the ‘circular economy’. Expect to see a lot more of this in 2020.

In June, Unilever announced it would dispose of brands that didn’t ‘stand for something’. They must start defining themselves in terms of their positive impact on society and the planet. Lip service? We’ll have to wait and see.

Unilever isn’t alone. 2020 will be an even stronger year for cause-related marketing. Especially with the triple bottom line ethos of People, Planet and Profit becoming more persuasive – and Planet gaining traction.

Profits should benefit because purpose pays. 91% of global consumers will switch to a brand that supports a good cause. But be careful – consumers are much better informed. Brand causes must stack up or they’ll be accused of woke-washing or greenwashing. They could even find themselves on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Take WeWork’s commitment to ‘elevate the world’s consciousness’. It’s arguably more baffling than inspirational. Deliveroo’s commitment to midwives because they ‘deliver’ babies rings hollow too – especially given the workers’ rights issues dogging the company.

Brands also need to look after their people. Which leads us to a second 2020 trend: the continued rise of the employer brand. And a prediction we’ll see more brands aspiring to awards like ‘We Invest in People’ and B Corp certification.

Changes in recruitment patterns – including social media – have put the employer value proposition firmly in the spotlight. After all, currently 70% of the global workforce isn’t looking for a new job. To attract (and engage) quality employees, companies need a compelling offer that goes beyond the pay packet.

Zoey Cooper, Content and Brand Director


Last year, I talked about the impact of Google’s transition from search engine to answer engine. It’s a global marketing trend that’s continued in 2019 – and one digital marketers will have to tackle in 2020.

In June 2019, the number of zero-click searches passed the 50% mark for the first time. This means the majority of Google users don’t click on any link (paid or organic) after searching.

Why’s the number going up? Over the years, Google’s introduced a variety of search results, like knowledge maps and featured snippets. It’s now prioritizing its own content over other sources – and not just Maps and Images. Users can watch videos, find hotels, follow sports results and (as of December 2019) track packages without leaving the SERP.

This new information is starving third-party sites of clicks – brands like Expedia and TripAdvisor are particularly struggling.

In other words, Google’s becoming a direct competitor. Already around 14% of all clicks go back to its own properties. Will it follow in the footsteps of Chinese search giant Baidu? Their rich snippets can take up to 70% of the space on page one. That leaves little room for even high-ranking websites.

Chinese consumers also often skip search engines and go straight to virtual marketplaces. This trend is already spreading outside the Middle Kingdom. In the US, the majority of product searches now start on Amazon.

So how can you boost your visibility in 2020? Here are some starting points:

  1. Optimize relevant content for zero-click searchers. Think featured snippets, CTR optimization and the Google knowledge graph.
  2. Review brand visibility on all relevant sources – including social media and marketplaces, which are often imported into the SERP.
  3. Consider Paid Media to nudge awareness and post-search behaviour on specific keywords.

Gary Reilly, Head of Digital


Design trends move fast – they always have. Here are a few we’re expecting to see more of in 2020:


Think bold fonts and independent text. Some brands are relying on type to the exclusion of all else.


Source: Wordbank white paper design


Metallic finishes are gaining traction. They work well with minimalist designs, while conveying luxury and good taste. Duotones will be used increasingly to simplify images and focus attention on content.


Source: Wordbank greeting card design


The grid system is so 2019. With a huge range of templates available, competition for attention is fierce. Designers are breaking boundaries in a quest for viewers’ elusive attention.


Source: Wordbank website design

Of course, perceptions of design trends are deeply influenced by culture. Colour associations, information density and image choices are just the start. The best approach is to combine creative design know-how with local market insights – which is exactly what we do.

Stani Dovhunova, Print Lead


The rapid rise of the Chinese economy has made China a firm localization priority for many brands. The advance of India and other emerging markets means we’re likely to see a further shift in language sets in the 2020s.

However, our predictions for 2020 are more closely related to factors that haven’t changed. Our Denver team recently visited the LocWorld conference in San Jose. Here are their thoughts on how to avoid the problems plaguing localization managers.


Localizing product content late in the development cycle can be challenging, because changes are then difficult to manage. Planning for internationalization from the start significantly reduces both localization cost and time to market.


Translation has been commoditized. Pricing per word and decreasing turnaround times put the emphasis on efficiency. Which isn’t enough on its own to solve the challenges businesses face when going global.

Marketers need a partnership that goes far beyond word counts. For better results, a focus on goals and strategy is crucial. And that includes research, language, design and digital.


Business leaders don’t care about the number of words translated. They care about results. And yet the localization industry is more likely to report on words, deadlines and accuracy.

ROI is especially important when it comes to marketing localization. Here, it translates into sales and brand awareness at the local level. Just counting words makes the case for localization investment difficult.

The Wordbank Denver team


To paraphrase Maya Angelou, people will forget what you said or did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. Global marketing trends come and go. But prioritizing creativity and the human touch is always a safe bet.

Need help taking over the world in 2020? We’d love to help please get in touch.

Photo by Eun-Kwang Bae on Unsplash

ABOUT Sarah Kerkache

I’m a localization specialist with over twenty years’ experience. I love collecting insights that help to deliver high-quality results. And I’m particularly interested in how language and technology can work together.

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