2022 was the year of brands, creatives and professionals alike innovating at the intersection of creativity and impact. When people can incorporate their purpose into their craft, it gives space to creative solutions and innovations of all kinds. Nowhere was this more evident than at CultureCon, a creative and changemaker conference led by visionary Imani Ellis. Edelman had the privilege of attending the one-day conference this year and our experience left us marveling at key takeaways we all should carry into our work building brands with purpose. As we reflect on the past year, here are four themes that came into sharp focus at CultureCon, and we can expect to see in 2023 when it comes to driving impact.

Authenticity is the biggest currency in brand impact.

We know that consumers, particularly Gen Z, assess whether a brand’s say matches a brand’s do. Powerful messaging without action can fall short of the brand’s impact. This was a key conversation at CultureCon NYC that provided a unique POV around incorporating creatives of color into a brand’s impact work. Specifically, when it comes to brand messaging around heritage and history months and moments,having a creative workforce reflective of the consumers you serve can help truly inspire real cultural conversations that are often timely. That working dynamic is vital to ensure there’s an authentic connection between a brand and its consumers, specifically if you want a connection built on trust.

There is power in your creative community.

At CultureCon NYC, panelists emphasized the importance of having a supportive community in your creative sphere to fuel your passion and inspire your work. According to Edelman’s Power of Gen Z report, over 80% of Gen Z’ers find inspiration from the people closest to them and that often transcends into their expectations for brands. A creative community can often lead to incredible innovations as you collaborate to make each of your dreams and ideas attainable. Screenwriter, producer and actress, Lena Waithe mentioned, “Your craft is what feeds you, but your community is what keeps you.” This also emphasizes the importance of bringing your lived experiences into your work and providing a valuable perspective distinct to you. When more people from diverse backgrounds are at the table, minds are opened and innovation transpires.

Support creatives of color.

We see the rise of incredible and pioneering work from creatives of color being produced, but we need to move beyond momentary support or funding to ensure these projects and creatives can have longevity in our industry. In the age of the multi-hyphenated creatives and professionals alike, there’s a need for spaces that foster inclusivity, career development and innovation. Ventures like Pharrell William’s Mighty Dream, which brings together creatives of color to proactively solve societal issues, are needed and important because they start by acknowledging a gap in the creative industry and then work together to begin assessing solutions. People are looking for more spaces like CultureCon to learn, connect and grow. Expect to see more collaborations — like the Mighty Dream Forum — that put people first in 2023.

People are hungry for more.

There is an incredible need for creative solutions in the world right now. Solutions that bring people together and inspire change. Consumers are looking for brands to utilize their available resources to lead these multi-sector collaborations and incorporate creativity into the output. Brands will need to approach solutions from an intersectional lens and integrate non-traditional perspectives for creative solutions.

The time for authenticity is now. With 2022 in our rearview mirror, the age for authentic brand connection and collaborative impact will continue into 2023 and beyond.

Darriel Sanders is a Senior Account Executive on the Brand Purpose team.