April 9, 2021
We love a good trend as much as the next designer.
We like the idea of being seen as a thought leaders, as someone who is on-point…even ahead of the game.
But when is a current trend right?—and, when can it potentially sabotage a brand?
Our audiences are incredibly discerning, they can see through shallow design—as consumers of a brand they want truth and integrity.
It is our responsibility as designers to thoughtfully and with intention provide design solutions that speak to our client’s story—their values, their objectives and their promise.
Branding that is only skin deep with a design solution that is only based on the look—without substance or strategy, quite simply will not be trusted.
The longer you have been designing, the easier you can predict trends and you can see them on repeat.
When you’re in your 3rd (or 4th 😜 ) decade of designing, you can see the merry go round of trends clearly.
The last couple of years have been all about boho aesthetic, muted neutral colours, earthiness, wellness vibes. With 2021 we’ve seen the re-emergence of vintage shapes, retro fonts and low-fi design, pairing pastels with pops of colour.
Usually one trend will seep into another, but there will be a mild backlash to the previous trend. For example, if in one season gradients are huge, then the next season, solid blocks of colour will emerge.
If earthy colours are happening, it will be followed up with purer, light-filled palettes. If serifs are huge, san-serifs will follow. It goes on and on.
The more saturated and widespread a trend, the longer period of time it will drop off the radar. It might take a decade or two for it to re-emerge.
Major design shifts, like fashion trends, come around every 20 years. Especially super saturated trends—a good example is condensed serifed fonts. They haven’t been seen for a good 20 years because they were associated with being dated and lacking in style.
But then, all of a sudden it becomes retro-cool.
So daggy it’s cool! And bam, we have a new trend.
Be mindful when being lured by the beauty of current trends. Not every solution can fit into a trend. You have to do your due diligence to discern whether or not a trend-based design is appropriate.
Trend-based design is appropriate when:
We definitely have clients that benefit and have flourished with trend-based design. It is a glorious ongoing relationship between designer and client to have an annual budget to refresh a brand to match current-trends.
When a design trend fits in with your client’s direction, business strategy and their goals, it’s a win-win.
As a designer you have the luxury of mixing things up with your own brand. You can recreate your own brand every year if you want to.
Of course as a designer, you want to be looked up to as a trend-setter. You want to be at the forefront of design—a thought leader. And your brand is the perfect vehicle to demonstrate to your audience that you are an authority on design.
But don’t let a trend override or sabotage your business strategy, your direction and your goals.
Comparison-itis can definitely take hold of us designers. There will always be somebody who might just be on the leading edge of the trend, making you question your brand’s direction.
It’s ok to pivot and change but make sure you are assessing it and understanding WHY you are doing it. Always ask ‘why?’ and assess whether the change will fit with your overall goals and strategy for your business.
Otherwise, making changes to your brand to keep up with current trends can not only be a time-wasting, distracting exercise, but it can also derail you.
Ask yourself, is this a smart business decision?
Check in with your goals by doing your own brand audit. Will adopting this trend for your brand work with your strategy, the goals you’ve set and most importantly will it attract your ideal dream clients?
A brand audit for your own business is a fabulous annual strategy to make sure you are where you want to be at any given time.
Review your brief, what questions are you asking in your brief that speak directly to current trends?
Does your client have an expectation for the life of the brand? Ask the question..How long do you envisage the design to be used for?
To rise above trends—to be a discerning, trusted, high end designer, we recommend implementing divergent research as a part of your conceptual process. Look beyond the design industry for visual cues. Look beyond your client’s industry for conceptual cues.
Consider breaking free of your regular inspiration channels. You may be caught in an inspiration loop…being fed visuals from the beautiful Pinterest and insta bots—interrupt this by looking for inspiration elsewhere—everywhere! Books, book covers, magazines, go to the library, look at nature etc.
With divergent research there are no rules. A 1920’s Japanese theatre poster might be the perfect colour palette inspiration for a 2021 Hair Salon brand.
Above all else, using a strong briefing process, check-in with your client’s business strategy, their vision, their intention. A truly groundbreaking, authentic design solution will always tell your client’s story with integrity.
© Copyright 2023 Design & Prosper Pty Ltd