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The surge of authenticity (2.0)

Never before have we been surrounded by as many visual experiences as we are today. Due to the technological innovations of recent decades, our lives have become increasingly saturated with screens, videos, advertisements and images everywhere we go. Resulting in an explosive rise in the amount of information we have to process and a visual overload.

In 2017, scientists measured the amount of data that enters the brain and found that an average person living today processes as much as 74 GB of information a day (that is as much as watching 16 movies), through TV, computers, cell phones, tablets, billboards, and many other gadgets. Every year it is about 5% more than the previous year. Only 500 years ago, 74 GB of information would be what a highly educated person consumed in a lifetime, through books and stories.

One of the big amplifiers of visual overload is our increased use of social media. here everyone is offered the tools to create content. 

Especially in the beginning of social media people used those to portray a picture-perfect image of themselves, with filters to cover everything they don’t like about themselves and their lives. All of a sudden it became super easy to look great in photos, many people went for the same aesthetics, like the “Instagram face”.

Not only did people start to strive for the same popular (fake) aesthetics, but in many different fields things started to look pretty much the same…

Architecture, books, furniture, car design, logos, and many more have gotten watered down and eerily similar around the world, partially through globalization (thoroughly explained in articles by Alex Murrell and the Guardian). This ‘sea of sameness’ or ‘age of average’ prioritized common denominator design over creative risks and authenticity.

And now that AI tools such as Dall-E and Midjourney are rapidly incorporated into our daily tasks and lives, the risk of visuals looking similar to one another is only increasing. For many people and brands the convenience of visual AI tools is a sensible trade-off at the expense of authentic and surprising visuals that take more time and investment to create.

Especially younger generations are increasingly looking beyond the age of artificial towards a more authentic visual language. Partially driven by their increasing aversion to capitalism – that is – according to them – the root of many contemporary problems around the world. Neatly curated visuals are firmly the language of brands and commercial interests, where visual hygiene is employed to keep up professional appearances and PR risks are avoided through safe communication that, above all else, should not offend.

The result is that people nowadays increasingly embrace authenticity in the content they select and enjoy. Partially because it just stands out more in a sea of sameness, for some as a counter-reaction towards commercialism, and often simply as a natural aversion towards advertisement.

Picture of Autor


Douwe Knijff

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Kim Pillen


Before Kim Pillen started as a trend consultant at TrendsActive, she worked for four years as a creative strategist at Dept. For brands such as Philips,, Beiersdorf, JBL, and the Consumers’ Association, she built (online) campaign, brand, and social media strategies. After four years, she decided that she wanted to better understand people and society in order to advise brands more effectively. That’s how she ended up at TrendsActive. Here, she can do what she loves most: digging into people’s needs and then working with brands to see how and where they can be relevant and meaningful.

Douwe Knijff


Douwe is fascinated by how people work. With a background in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (Bachelor) and Psychology (Master) and an analytical mind he tries figure out how societal shifts manifest themselves through social culture and human behaviour.

Aljan De Boer

Keynote speaker

Aljan has been widely recognized as an inspiring professional speaker on the critical trends that will shape society in the decades to come. He works as the Head of Inspiration at TrendsActive, a trend consultancy from the Netherlands using social science to human-proof business decision for brands like

  • Disney
  • Vodafone
  • Hugo Boss
  • ASR
  • Rabobank

Next to his role at TrendsActive he is the Community Director at the Institute for Real Growth where he inspires and connects a global community of +400 CMOs.  

He has been on the board of the Dutch Platform of Innovative Marketing for almost a decade. Regular speaker and moderator for the Dutch Marketing Awards and 3 times winner of the best of MIE. 

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees his purpose is to help ambitious leaders and brands to human-proof their business. In 2003 he founded TrendsActive, a trend consultancy enabling brands to become more human centric.

Kees consults global brands like

  • Disney
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Asics
  • Discovery Channel
  • Swiss Life
  • Vodafone

and many more.

Next to being the founder of TrendsActive, he is also initiator of the first academic trend master for executives at the University of Utrecht and is initiator of various trend studies and white papers on subjects like trust, meaning, visual culture & generations.


Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist