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A handful of discussions with our first new clients of 2018 have led me to thinking a lot about branding, and how it evolves with the different design trends that spring up. Although every business is unique and warrants a unique brand identity to go with it, there will always be common threads and design choices that make waves through the industry.
As a team focused on aligning our work with each clients’ individual business goals, we like to zone in on the unique qualities of each brand that we work with. That being said, it’s also important that we consider the industry as a whole and take what’s marketable into consideration while doing it. Today I’d like to discuss a few industry trends that are on the horizon for 2018, and how understanding these trends can help you provide the most value to your clients.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
We’ve written before about how successful branding starts at the beginning. The why behind a brand can create a powerful connection with its audience—one that aesthetics without purpose cannot.
In an increasingly visual world, a successful brand identity cannot be built on a product alone; it needs to share a message and the story behind the brand. Why should someone prefer it over a competitor with equally pleasing aesthetics? It comes back to the why behind a business, and the role of branding is to reinforce that story visually.
We’re frequently encountering brands who are placing a higher priority on digital design as opposed to print. This is a real opportunity for designers to adapt their offerings to align with their clients’ needs in an increasingly digital landscape.
In years past, a stationery system would come hand-in-hand with a brand identity, and while print collateral certainly isn’t dead, there’s no doubt that social media design is making its way to the forefront. From profile images, to cover photos, to templates for Instagram stories, I encourage you to explore tailoring your packages according to what suits your clients’ immediate needs.
While this likely isn’t news to many, when it comes to cost-effective alternatives to building a custom website, Squarespace is top of the list. User-friendly, and reasonably customizable with the help of a skilled developer, it would be beneficial to add Squarespace to your list of potential platforms.
The reality is that not every client needs the features and user experience that a custom WordPress website provides. In these cases, such as a landing page, portfolio, or even a basic e-commerce site, Squarespace can serve as a solid solution for your client.
Building on our first point, an important theme of the moment is consumers looking beyond aesthetics for a deeper meaning behind a brand. This includes questioning the validity of products built solely on aesthetics (we’ve all experienced them). A quality product with great design to match has the potential to make waves, but a brand based on aesthetics alone simply won’t stand the test of time.
For a brand desiring longevity, it needs to consider quality first and foremost, and offer up a unique experience for customers to connect with. Aesthetics and marketing alone won’t sustain a brand for the long haul.
I’m a big proponent of following rules, especially those at the foundation of graphic design. But breaking and bending best practices is something that I’m starting to notice, and find myself drawn to more often. I think it’s a combination of challenging the styles that can feel overused and exhausted, and drawing influence from designers of the past that took a more carefree and liberal approach to their work, like Ettore Sottsass.
The Los Angeles restaurant, Sqirl, does this exceptionally well with a design-focused experience that draws inspiration from Japanese design, and The Memphis Group. The result is a very “back to basics” feel that I really appreciate.
This one ultimately depends on the client, but while we typically have brands coming to us for a simplified and subdued aesthetic, I’m noticing a much bigger embrace of bright color palettes.
We’ve been exploring shades of purple a lot more (which could be influenced by Pantone’s 2018 color of the year), along with other jewel tones like emerald and saffron. This resurgence of primary colors definitely excites me, and while I don’t think minimal design is going anywhere, I do think that more clients will seek punchier color palettes to contrast that simplicity.
What trends have you noticed this year based on your clients’ requests, and how do you plan to address them (if at all) in your work?