Top 5 Design Trends of 2021
Ways to make your brand use design trends in the new year.
So, now that you’ve made it through the terror maze of 2020 you’re probably thinking about ways to stand out in the new year. It just so happens that I ALSO have been thinking about that. It’s kind of my job to think of ways to make your brand stand out in the market. A big part of a brand are the visual elements that tie all of the customer experiences together! I’ve spent the better part of December looking at the data, measuring the science, pouring the liquid truth into the beakers, and other random terms associated with researching stuff. What I’ve found are the top 5 design trends of 2021. I’ve compiled a list of things that I think are going to stand out, and that we’re already doing for our clients now! Because we’re super cool trend setters of course.
If you don’t have time to read and see all the pretty pictures, take a look at this video to sum it all up for you!
Design Trend 1
In 2020 we learned that in order to run a business, you gotta keep things lean sometimes! Designing products that are sustainable doesn’t just make good sense for the environment, it makes good sense for your cents! When I talk about making it sustainable I mean using QR code technology to create a better user experience. That’s right baby! QR Codes are cool again! I don’t care what anybody says, they always were cool and I’m just glad they’re coming back around. We leaned all the way in with the QR code projects to end the year and I don’t see any end to them in 2021. We designed and produced amazing table tents for restaurants out of PVC that can be sanitized after each customer! Restaurants were having to make ugly single use paper menus that created unfavorable customer experiences in order to stay compliant for COVID restrictions. To make things worse, the menus had to be tossed in the trash after every customer which gets expensive. Even outside of COVID restrictions, having to reprint menus every time prices changed, or the chef updated something, or just normal wear and tear could costs thousands of dollars a year! With our menus, it’s a one time fee for production of the tents and the website build if needed. So now, you only need to update your menu online and the dynamic QR code just pulls up the latest version when scanned by your customer’s phone. Check out the project we did for our client Spencer Devon Brewing! We designed their website as well, so we know their customers will have a beautiful, seamless, mobile friendly user experience!
Design Trend 2
There was so much doubt and mistrust in this last year that the world needs a little familiarity again. So design trends are pointing to more “vintage” looks with a lot of throwback designs. I’m 36 and most of the trends are from my childhood, so I kind of don’t like the idea of being vintage, but whatever floats your old loving boat I guess! I’m sure you’d expect me to throw a lot of examples of plaid backgrounds and late 90’s tech company logos at you right now, but I’m not, because that would be ridiculous. I’m going to talk about the design sidekick that the world ignores, like a visual interpretation of Brain the Dog.
I’m talking about FONTS my friend! Fonts are always looked over by the general public but they’re some of the most important design elements you can work with. The wrong typeface can completely change the dynamic of a project or set the wrong tone for a brand. That’s why we’re seeing a resurgence of Serif fonts as main headlines. Most people think of old stuffy law firms when they think of Serif fonts because the general public goes right to Times New Roman. While we’re on the subject, Times is beautiful and you should be ashamed for making fun of it. All the big brands, especially the ones existing primarily online are starting to use Serif fonts to create a feeling of trust and familiarity with their market. Even us! We have been using the Abril Text font for most of 2020.
Design Trend 3
With people stuck at home throughout much of the country, brands were struggling with ways to connect with their customers and give them that brand experience that they would normally have had in a retail environment. Not surprisingly, the online shopping push completely exploded the past year, especially for the holiday. So much so in fact that delivery services had to completely redo their logistics in order to keep up with the demand for shipping. Think of some of the products you’ve ordered lately that got sent to your home. They were probably late, the shipping box was probably banged up a little bit, you’re probably tired of hearing your spouse chew food and you just need ANYTHING to be “normal”. Then you open your package up, see the bright colors and branding on the box, dig through the on-brand colored tissue paper, enjoy the tiny elements of design, receive your product, and are reminded of the last time you were at that store and how it made you feel. That’s some incredibly strong branding right there! To remind a customer of an emotion they felt from a retail store in the comfort of their own home is pretty powerful. That’s why companies are going out of their way to create beautiful experiences for subscription boxes, product fulfillment, thank you notes and anything else that you can imagine. We’re currently working on a snack box for a client that will look like a little store with their awning on the flap and when you open the box lid, there’s a QR code that pulls up a thank you video from the owner. AMAZING. I set up this mockup though of a fake beard oil company, because I have a beard and am also very nerdy.
Design Trend 4
Think about how powerful the cartoon characters on the box of cereal were to you as a kid. Now apply that same concept to any business out there! Cartoons and fun illustrations are going to make a big push in 2021 for brands. Again, 2020 was painfully serious and it’s time for our consumer lifestyles to have some playful fun. Expect brands to start implementing illustrations and cartoons as mascots in their brand strategies a ton in the new year. Utilizing cartoons and illustrated mascots is a really versatile way to tell stories, display content, create approachable experiences for customers, and dictate your internal branding to your staff. You could use character illustration to sell merchandise, to roll-out new products or services, to explain company guidelines for new-hires. The uses are endless. We’ve already started working with our clients to create custom illustrations for employee handbooks, websites, marketing materials, and merchandise design. This trend has no limits to the size of the business which is what makes it incredibly important. There are no exclusives uses and businesses of any size can take advantage! Check out some of these illustrations I got to do for Visual Villain, a lifestyle brand that focuses on pop-culture art.
Design Trend 5
Say it LOUD say it PROUD! Your brand is important, and your product is valuable. And all of your competitors think the same thing about their stuff. So how do you make a splash in 2021? You get funky. Businesses are looking to refresh their brands big time this year with bold and bright color choices that will make their customers stop scrolling social media and look at the ad. Think of how cluttered the market is for your product or service right now and see that most of your competition is doing the same thing with traditional, modern, clean design colors. Do the opposite of that thing. Be the beautiful, bright unicorn peacock you know you truly are and go with some crazy alternate colors for your business this year. You can even create micro brand experiences with each product line or service you offer with just simple color changes. It’s going to happen this year, are you ready to get on board the funky train? Check out this brand we put together for a client who is a coach for lawyers. You’re probably thinking this needs to be pretty conservative and traditional, well we thought otherwise and the business is taking off for the client!
Well, I hope you picked up some great tips with this post! If you need help prepping your business for 2021 you can take a look at this amazing checklist that Brandi put together!