Many people think a brand is just a logo or a company name. While this statement isn’t wrong, it only scratches the surface of what a brand is. A brand includes every touchpoint and interaction with a customer or potential customer that a company might have. It’s the way a company presents itself to the public and how customers perceive that brand. Branding extends far beyond advertising or web presence. That being said, a brand’s website might act as the “home” for the brand. It provides customers with information about the brand’s mission, values, products, and more. Because a website is crucial for a brand, it’s imperative you keep your website updated with the latest design trends in 2018.
Check out the latest brand design trends in 2018 you need for your company’s branding.
Vibrant Colors for a Punch
There are hundreds of brands who already use vibrant colors in their logo and branding. This trend will continue to grow in 2018 as vibrant colors spill over into more marketing materials and social media presence.
Vibrant colors don’t necessarily mean neon yellows and hot pinks (although they’d be vibrant). We refer more to strong, bright primary colors which will act as a base for many brands.
Some experts have also noticed an increase in the use of warm colors. They attribute it to the upturn in the economy and a sunnier outlook for business and sales.
Vibrant colors are also perfect for using in high-contrast graphics. Creating high-contrast graphics are a great way to make your brand message stand out on already crowded channels like Instagram and Facebook. There are several online palette generators to help you find high-contrast colors.
Color transitions and gradients are also increasing in popularity. Instagram’s logo is a great example of gradient usage in a logo.
Simpler Logos for a Powerful Impact
Over the past decade, logos have been getting simpler.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, overall societal taste has become more minimalistic and simple.
Second, new businesses are hesitant to add graphics to their logos. This is because companies are on the lookout for copyright infringement. It’s easier to have a simple logo with only text rather than risk another company thinking you used their graphic.
There are some benefits to these simple design trends in 2018. Simple logos are easier to remember, and they can pack a real punch if the typography and coloring are done well.
Simple, text-only logos also correspond with a trend in web design where text is starting to act as a stand-alone image.
This doesn’t mean no brand is developing a logo with graphics. There are plenty, but the graphics tend to be small and not immediately noticeable.
The Importance of Fonts
The font you choose for your logo, web presence, and marketing materials all adds to your company’s branding.
Right off the bat, a viewer can get a sense of if you’re a serious company (e.x. a law firm or medical practice) or a more creative company (e.x. a branding agency). Evaluating font is not something logo viewers consciously do.
Appearances are something we as humans innately judge to get a sense of what a person or thing is – whether it’s a threat or friendly. We do the same thing with logos to get a sense of what a company does.
Font isn’t the only factor that contributes to how a person perceives your brand. The spacing and color will also contribute to that first perception.
Branding teams use colors to convey meaning about what a company does or its internal culture. For example, blue is a widely popular color because it generally conveys that a company is communicative and trustworthy.
If you’re considering re-branding, consider the fonts and colors you use. They will convey your brand’s purpose to others and help you stay on top of design trends in 2018.
Real Deal Authenticity
Did you know millennials are estimated to have $200 billion in spending power in 2017? They’re expected to have the largest spending power out of any generation in 2018.
This matters because with that spending power comes new demands of companies and brands. Authenticity is their first demand.
Yes, millennials value authenticity perhaps more than anything else, and they want the companies they purchase from to be authentic, too.
Even if your product or service doesn’t cater to millennials, it could in the future. It’s never too early to present your brand’s authentic self.
You can present your brand’s authenticity in a few ways.
First, ditch the stock photos on your website and social media. Everyone can spot a stock photo these days, and it shows you have something to hide by not putting your employees or office on your website. Getting rid of stock photos on websites is one of the top design trends in 2018.
If you lack in the authentic photo department, call on your customers to help. If your customers love your product, they’ll relish the chance to contribute to your social media channels with their own content.
You can also try adding hand-drawn sketches to your marketing materials, too. They help show how a product or process was made and can be more interesting than computer-generated graphics.
Transparency as Part of Brand Image
Authenticity and transparency tend to go hand in hand. As brands become more authentic, they’ll need to become more transparent as well.
Becoming a more transparent brand is one of the most important brand design trends in 2018.
The pressure comes from consumers who are fed up with companies trying to trick them about who the brand is or the quality of the company’s products. This wave of demanding transparency is thanks to a rising level of distrust in established institutions.
The wave of distrust means customers are increasingly demanding transparency from brands. They want to know where their products are coming from, how the company sources their materials, and what’s in the products.
Companies, especially consumer goods and apparel companies, are starting to adapt to these demands and use it to their advantage for marketing.
For example, Burt’s Bees, a company known for its natural skin and body care products, recently released a new makeup line. Their main campaign states “I am not synthetic” which punches home the message that their makeup is natural and free of synthetic additives.
These messages work because the company is transparent about what’s in their products and their commitment to natural products.
The Rise of CSR
Because consumers are demanding more transparency from the companies they purchase from, they’re also demanding to know about companies’ CSR efforts.
CSR can include local charities or foundations the company contributes time and money to. It can even include how a company works to reduce its carbon footprint throughout their production cycle.
For example, a company like Warby Partner commits to giving a pair of glasses to a child in a developing country for every pair purchased. Another example is Subaru’s commitment to being a zero-landfill company.
Both of these commitments are key parts of these brands’ branding and marketing messaging.
But, why is everyone suddenly conscious of companies’ CSR commitments? It has to do with people becoming more cognizant of their impacts on society and the environment.
Customers want to be socially and environmentally responsible, so they need to pressure companies in a direction that will allow them to be so.
Altogether, authenticity, transparency, and CSR will likely formulate the winning combination for brands in the future. This combination in addition to a winning product will help companies go far as buying criteria for consumers changes.
Radicalization seems like a dirty word, but really, it’s necessary for brands these days. To really stand out in this political and economic climate, a brand needs to stand up for what it believes in.
While radicalization might not be an everlasting trend, it’s one of the hot brand design trends in 2018.
A wave of brand activism is sweeping the nation and has been since the elections in 2016. When the current administration tried to block immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations companies took these actions:
- Airbnb offered free accommodation to refugees
- Starbucks committed to hiring 10,000 refugees
- Lyft donated $1 million to the ACLU
- Budweiser developed a Super Bowl commercial flaunting America’s immigrant roots
These brands publicly and unabashedly took a stand for what they believe in and the foundations their brands are founded on.
What brands will need to be careful of is trying not to seem opportunistic in a time of perpetual tumult.
This is not to say your brand needs to be “radicalized” because it’s one of the top design trends in 2018. However, we will continue to see brands stepping up for what they believe in, reinforcing those statements with actions, and letting customers come (or flee) as a result.
Experiential Marketing to Compete with Amazon
Traditional retail has taken a major hit thanks to our favorite Everything Store. In 2017, 28 large retailers like Macy’s and CVS have closed or announced plans to close stores, adding up to about 5,300 locations.
More large retailers are trying to compete with Amazon by providing subscription services (ex. signing up to receive cleaning supplies every month from Target.com) or forming unusual partnerships (ex. Walmart partnering with Lord & Taylor to sell higher end Walmart products).
Some are adopting subscription box models where customers receive a certain type of item each month or quarterly. BabyGap recently started a box along these lines called OutfitBox which sends outfits to parents each quarter.
Traditionally all online businesses are also trying to break into experiential marketing. Online mattress manufacturers are setting up test centers around the country, although not as widely as traditional mattress sellers.
This is nearly a 180 given these companies started on the foundation that they didn’t need to invest in physical locations to sell their products.
Subscription box services are also opening up temporary pop-up shops so people can interact with their brand in-person. Birchbox, the online beauty subscription box is one such business, having opened a pop-up shop in Soho that later became permanent.
All these methods contribute to how a customer interacts with a brand. New and surprising ways of getting branded material in front of a customer are one of the most exciting design trends in 2018.
Infographics became really popular in 2017. They’ll continue to be one of the more popular design trends in 2018.
Infographics are a visually-pleasing way to share research your company has done or research in your industry. They’re easy to read and understand largely because the human brain processes visuals faster than text.
Branded infographics are a great way to spread your company’s name around. They’re highly shareable on social channels which can help you reach a larger audience.
When you develop an infographic, you should include your company’s name and logo to help spread brand awareness. With each share on social media, your brand will get more exposure.
We should note that you shouldn’t mass-produce tons of infographics. The value your brand gets from producing infographics is the value your viewers and customers get out of the information.
Infographics can also help boost your organic ranking. SEO experts have noticed that Google is providing more media-rich answers to searchers. This means they’ll favor websites with rich text, images (like infographics) and video.
Adding an infographic to your website doesn’t automatically boost your SEO score. You’ll need to optimize the infographic for SEO including adding descriptive metadata to the post page and some keyword-rich text.
You can also send your infographics to infographic databases which provide you with a backlink to your website, a key criterion for SEO ranking.
Final Thoughts on Design Trends in 2018
Bringing all these design trends in 2018 together can seem daunting, especially if your company is just starting out or you have a small marketing team.
Brands can implement several of these design trends in 2018 themselves. Transparency, authenticity, and CSR all require internal decision makers to get on board and then change marketing materials to reflect those changes.
Companies can also brand or co-brand infographics easily with little to no oversight.
For larger undertakings like a logo redesign or experiential marketing, it might make sense to hire an agency. Branding agencies understand how to collect information on your customer base and transform those insights into actionable items for your brand.
If you’re ready to get your brand up-to-date with brand design trends in 2018, get in touch with us today.