Interbrand Launches “2021 Breakthrough Brands” Report highlighting the 30 challenger brands set to disrupt the US market

Brands like Greenwood Bank, Omsom and BREAD Beauty Supply are changing the conversations and improving representation.

Taboos are becoming mainstream thanks to brands like Starface, Megababe and Frida Mom.

Brands including Athletic Brewing, Miro and ATAI Life Sciences are poised for aggressive growth.

New York: Interbrand – The world’s leading brand consultancy – today launched its “2021 Breakthrough Brands” report – searching for the next generation of icons, and unveiling this year’s 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 coatings for produce (Apeel), Interbrand predicts these challenger brands have got what it takes to become household names.

This year’s Breakthrough Brands cohorts follow 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., 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, taboos 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.

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.”

Interbrand’s Breakthrough Brands 2021 reportis 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 brand economics.

The full report can be downloaded, here:

Interbrand’s Breakthrough Brands 2021:

Afresh – Grocery store management tool for waste reduction

Air Company – Carbon negative distillation

Apeel – New age produce packaging

ATAI Life Sciences – Psychedelics for mental health

Athletic Brewing Co – Cult-favorite non-alcoholic beer

Better – Digitalized, seamless mortgage system

BREAD Beauty Supply – Modern haircare for Black and curly hair

Butterfly Network – Remote access to ultrasounds

Cameo – Personalized celebrity engagement

Dapper Labs – Blockchain-based experiences

Discord – Messaging platform for niche communities

Frida Mom – Post-partum healing and recovery products

Greenwood Bank – Digital bank built for minority communities – At home diagnostics

Kano – Teaching kids coding

Lovevery – Toys aiding infant development

Megababe – Unique personal care products

Miro – Real-time online collaboration tool

Nuro – Autonomous delivery vehicle

OffLimits – Category-defying cereal

Omsom – Asian meal kit

Oura Ring – Frictionless wearable ring

Owlet – Smart wearable for infants

Pipe – Streamlined capital for start-ups

Revolut – Globalized neobank

Signal – Non-profit encrypted messaging system – Blockchain-based fan engagement tool

SpringHill Company – Media company focused on diverse stories

Starface – Light-hearted acne products

Zwift – At-home fitness for dedicated cyclists


Tina Goldstone, [email protected]

About The Interbrand Group

Interbrand Group is made up of Interbrand, the world’s leading brand consultancy, and C Space, the global customer agency.

Interbrand have been a world leading brand consultancy, for over 45 years – having pioneered iconic work and forged many of the brand building tools that are commonplace across the industry today.

We know that in an age of unprecedented abundance of choice and speed of innovation, customers’ expectations are moving faster than business. While incremental change is still essential, it is no longer sufficient. It takes bold moves to leap ahead of customers and competitors. We call these moves Iconic Moves.

In collaboration with the world’s leading brands, our global team of thinkers and makers are pioneering the future of brand building. By turning customers into active participants, we help our clients strengthen their brands on an ongoing basis – our approach gives them confidence to make Iconic Moves that spark desire and create utility, driving extraordinary results.

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