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Branding Trends In 2018 + 2019

The evolution of business and technology creates new needs for customers, which also requires new designs to enhance product and services. In that sense, branding is constantly evolving to appeal to new audiences and new lifestyle trends, as “consumers, especially those in the 18-34 age bracket, are now demanding higher standards of design, especially when it comes to issues pertaining to the environment and sustainability. They are forcing the market to adapt to a better way of doing business.” (1) Let’s dive into the branding trends for 2018 (and beyond).

“successful design begins with an overall strategy that communicates messaging and usability to customers and the brand’s community. This integration of all aspects of a company’s DNA makes better design an investment that will deliver sustainable results”

 

Brand-less

 

Brandless

Brandless online concept store. Source: digitalartsonline.co.uk

 

The overexposure to brands and the constant flow of new lines of products leads to its logical counter-trend: being brandless. While this type of brand positioning remains a strong brand identity. While this strategy is not different from other traditional branding strategies, it responds to people’s overexposure to brands, their need for transparency regarding costs, and their increase savvy mindset regarding money. Customers want to know what they are paying for, and it better be for the product itself rather than for the packaging. In a society where overconsumption and overexposure to publicity and information prevails, as a brand being bold can also mean being less “branded”. One good example of this trend? Literally, the brand Brandless (2)

 

Product Design Branding

 

Product design became a broad term inclusive of service, software, and physical product design. But at its core, product design is the process of “identifying a market opportunity, clearly defining the problem, developing a proper solution for that problem and validating the solution with real users.” (3) Such process encompasses design thinking, which is a “human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology and the requirements for business success.” (4) Branding is widely impacted by product design since the brand identity has to be aligned with the product the brand embodies – and consequently its design, whether it is a physical product or a digital one.

The result? Brands that have product design aligned with the entire communication aesthetic and vision, while providing a strong sense of usability for customers. Indeed, “some parts of the UX design industry is looking to improve its usability for all people”. (5) And this approach is even relevant for business as “successful design begins with an overall strategy that communicates messaging and usability to customers and the brand’s community. This integration of all aspects of a company’s DNA makes better design an investment that will deliver sustainable results”. (6)

 

Visual mélange

 

brandtrends

Sources: insights.newscred.com (left) and digitalartsonline.co.uk (right)

 

Between the growing popularity of creative collages in graphic design (7) and the second renaissance trend (8), the general visual influence is composed of a mélange of visual patterns on one hand and the unusual mix of ethnics representations with historic imageries. Indeed, art history images such as the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper dominate the visual landscape of 2018 where social media account based on such influence gained significant exposure (see here) or the last official video and MTV performance of Ariana Grande (9). Already in 2017, the renaissance theme was also part of the art direction of the renowned Adidas Originals campaign “Original is 
Never Finished”(10). Overall, we can observe a new mélange of imageries and symbols that wasn’t present on such a mainstream level in the past.

 

Animated branding

 

The new do of mainstream branding gravitates towards motion design (11) for various formats: videos, pictograms (12), digital advertising, posts on social media (see Starbucks), etc. Since graphics with motion add another dimension to static images, the combination of current video trends with still photos became very popular within the Tech industry but the shift to other industries is slowly appearing.

 

 

What’s next? Cross-industry branding.

 

For 2019, antagonist trends will appear as a result of a branding confusion between traditional imageries and digital new technology inspired ones. In an attempt to resolve this branding dissonance, one solution will be to mix those visions, through “imperfect and do-it-yourself imagery that’s begun to feel the most honest – and the most authentic” (13) and digital motion-inspired creations. The result? A combination between high-level aesthetic and “down to heart” visuals. Such vision could be the next trend in branding because industries are not visually fixed anymore, the brand identity of one industry will shift to other industries much more easily than in the past.

Klarna, the Swedish bank that provides online financial solutions, is one good example of this: the brand belongs to the FinTech industry but the branding is mainly lifestyle-ish. (14) Or, the pop-inspired branding campaign of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a political figure in New York. Such cross-industry tendency will also reflect into branding and creations from visual industries (art, fashion, architecture) will become a major influence for brands within other non-creative industries. Additionally, with the arrival of technology and its impact on creative fields (see art with AI), one can predict a combination of organic and non-organic visuals and designs.

Static will not take over animated imageries, but one component will be added to the mix: the addition of the fifth senses. Now, touch & feel will go one step further than the traditional look & feel in branding. Indeed, “audiences are craving new and different experiences when it comes to marketing, but not only that” (15) as customers will want to feel branding instead of just “seeing” it or be aroused by it with experiential branding – “GoPro style” with customer generated contents (16) or through emotional branding strategies (17).

This shift will be translated into new types of branding videos. They will not only have an educational or purely experiential taste to it, as it is currently the case. They will rather showcase the use of a product or service by appealing to other sensorial information such as touch or hearing. After surviving the “pumped up” era of reality TV/Trump/yellow journalism, people will need to feel trust without being forced to engage in emotional consumption – the tactic has been used and overused and its impact is slowly diminishing as people are starting to see through the cracks. In the end, strategies that work are the innovative ones that answer people’s needs and concerns in response to society’s evolution.

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