It is said that change is the only constant and with each passing year graphic design trends prove this right. Be it packaging and illustrating for products or a promotional campaign for a brand, the design trends influencing each field have become a must-know today.
Will the previous years’ trends will be an influence on the upcoming years’ trends or will the two be complete opposites?
To get an answer, we have creatives from different sectors of the design industry enlightening us about the graphic design trends of 2018 and putting forth their predictions for 2019’s trends.
To get a fair idea about what design will look like in the 19th year of the 21st century, read through!
Brands are switching over to the social and digital media by cutting through the traditional medium of print to be used as their promotional and communication strategies.
According to Inderpreet Singh Seehra from Design Stack, 2018 saw simplification, strong colours and symbols that stood out in digital mediums as the key features for major branding projects. The brand identity of SBI (a complete case study here) created by them is an example.
The use of gradients, motion design and experimental typefaces was a ubiquity of 2018. The Identity for Fakultet for kunst, musikkog design, UiB, by Uniform, as a dynamic brand in motion; and Baboon by Sagmeister and Walsh, for its approach to colour and its humour logotypes showed the brands walking towards a more dynamic approach to differentiate themselves from the competition, says Mira Malhotra, the founder of Studio Kohl.
Not all changes are on the positive side. She has brought forth a noticeable change in the fashion industry to go for lifeless, characterless logotypes in the name of minimalism. Burberry was probably the most disappointing of them all.
This was a gist of 2018. It’s now time to leave the past behind and peep into the future and see what is going to be trending this year.
1. Ownership to Users and Personalisation
According to Anthony Lopez, branding systems are becoming very fluid and are designed to go beyond the logo. Branding has to be ambidextrous and the identity has to be able to adapt itself in multiple ways for different situations.
An example of the Partners’ Forum 2018, which was held in New Delhi. The identity takes on varied forms, manifesting in appropriate ways across collaterals. Further, we take the branding forward through products that reflect the identity, making it memorable for the future. The mission of the Forum stays with its participants, for a long time after.
(The 3D Pipli logo animation was created by Studio Eeksaurus who collaborated with Lopez Design, celebrating the message of the Partners’ Forum.)
Talking of personalisation, brands will be seen as containers – people can put in what they want to express themselves through the brand. Eventually, the brand starts to become an extension of an individual.
Also, Anthony mentions that putting design in the hands of the customer and encouraging them to take ownership has led to people creating their own graphics besides photographs. For example, on Instagram, the user can add many icons and can also have a poll. Others provide stickers with a product to place it on anything the user wishes to put on.
Design Stack highlights that people always relate to design or products that invoke positive feelings in them. For instance, a fortune cookie or a name on the bottle of coke is quite relatable to a consumer. Customising the logo with the name may or may not trend in 2019, but customising the logo with quotes, jokes, city names or graphic elements that people can relate to will continue to be used for a long time by designers.
2. Less is More
The ‘less is more’ ideology has always been the underlying principle of design and will continue to play a vital role in the future too, says Design Stack. For an increased response on social networks and effective and aesthetical communication, brands will make use of simpler forms, clean shapes, bold colours, motion graphics and videos.
Not wanting to add unnecessary frills and fancies in a logotype has been an upward trend since Turner and Duckworth’s famous stripping down of the Coca Cola brand, says Mira Malhotra. Following the trend of less is more, there’s a chance one can go too far, cut out all frills and have a logo in a banal, forgettable neutral typeface, resulting in a sameness across brands and their identities.
But she’s also of the opinion that the trend of less is more can also work wonders for a brand’s visual identity differentiating it from the rest, if worked on smartly! Animated logotypes will be a resort for many.
According to Anthony Lopez, graphics is only one component of branding. The brands of the future need to be flexible across all aspects, influencing a user’s experience by drawing their attention to the brand’s character, behaviour, a tone of voice, influencers, associations and endorsements. Graphics, in such cases, is the mechanics used with adherence to the framework of the brand guidelines. When all this is done with precision, the concept of conveying ‘more with less’ becomes a possibility.
Motion graphics including multi-dimensional graphics will definitely become a lot more common in the future.
3. Typeface Experimenting – going back to the roots
Anthony Lopez voices the fact that a large part of branding is about strategy and delivery of content through various means, and typefaces are just one part of this contributing to the visual medium. For multi-device existence the typeface design will include the factor of scale-ability and the flexibility of the digital medium, in particular, will allow for easy and varied versions of the designed font including features like effects to type, highlighting, shading, colour options and animation.
According to Mira Malhotra, going beyond designing the logo for the brand and experimenting with typefaces to grant a uniqueness to the brand will be new in. With Google fonts and so many free quality typefaces infiltrating the mainstream, (when free, it becomes mainstream easily) people, especially clients will have a better taste in typefaces, hopefully implementing daring decisions by clients in terms of typefaces.
Design Stack points out that 2019 will be the year where the designers will want to strike a balance between the old and the new, recalling the importance of the roots and fusing them in with the trending styles. For this, the Indian type foundries are creating contemporary regional scripts which will play a big role in the coming age of Indian design. Versatile fonts that work well on both digital and traditional media will be sort after.
4. Sophistication and Boldness
Design Stack predicts brands experimenting with logos and colour schemes. A bold yet sophisticated palette is what is intended as the yielded result.
Mira Malhotra also foresees boldness in the upcoming year. Whether its bright colours, pastel neutrals, or just black and white, anything that stands out bold will make it to the brand collaterals across various mediums.
Anthony Lopez sees 2019 as a year of logos becoming more and more fluid, vibrant and versatile. Brands may launch sub-brands, but the prime brand logo is what will go across the face of the brand. Logos inherently need to be simple for high recall. However, within the face of the logo, more permutations and combinations will be observed. This allows the brand to cater to varying clientele and different platforms.
Highlights of 2018
Anix, the creative director of Adaar mentions that 2018 was a phenomenal year for animation and motion graphics witnessing trends like seamless transitions, liquid motion, digital-surrealism, isometric design, a combination of 2D and 3D, big, bold typography complicated visual effects, 3D pastels and photorealistic rendering to name a few.
2018 saw a refreshing visual representation of strong female leads with powerful accessories and expertise in a specialisation (vs the stereotypical princess/Damsel in distress) like Mrs Incredible from Incredibles, Mai from Next Gen, She-Ra from Netflix’s reboot of the popular 80s cartoon, and Shank from Wreck-it Ralph 2, says Sonia Tiwari.
Sonia also observed interactive animations, in general, becoming subtle in action, pastel colour blocked and with cleaner backgrounds, a trend that originated from the iconic game Monument Valley 1 in 2014 and Monument Valley 2 in 2017. She cites INTURN’s webpage as an example to follow.
WowMakers describe 2018 as a year of rapidness. Videos had fast cuts and rapid edits, bright pop colours, neon moods and colour gradients. Vertical viewing and videos for the same rose in prominence as mobile platforms recorded the most screen time. An ‘In Your Face’ attitude permeated all forms of visual media far beyond animation and motion graphics, reeling the viewer in.
In an attempt to engage the viewers, the visual representation followed the ‘Bigger is Better’ or the ‘Go Big or Go Home’ philosophy. The text was bigger and bolder than ever, constantly changing and creating new text out of the shells of the old. 2018 saw the ‘Glitch effect’ gaining popularity. ‘Morphing’ that has been around for a while also topped the charts last year, creating magical illusions through seamless transitions.
Anix explains that with media, connectivity and its scope of influence, availability and reachability, motion graphics is taking over the prevalence of still graphics. From commercials to product shots, marketing campaigns, sale presentations and game design, animated and motion graphics endow an astonishing display and communicate the product’s prowess in a way that would be impossible to communicate otherwise.
Let’s take a look at what 2019 has in store:
1. Animating the Education
According to Sonia Tiwari, simple, iconic, vector-based motion graphics will overpower contemporary educational content, because of the large amount of content to be covered through the browser and mobile platforms that require optimised performance, seamless integration with Learning Management Systems (LMS) and keeping up with the refined design sensibilities of young millennials. A few good examples of this visual style and animation are Kurzgesat in a Nutshell series and Lumosity.
2. Purpose Over Design
For Sonia Tiwari, the UX is like our brain or heart, built on the logic and feelings, and the UI is the face or skin, the outer layer that connects the user to the inner workings of a product. This distinction is important to understand that the trendy-animation and visual design must not be shallow or cosmetic, but really try to serve a purpose.
For example, a medical application that can use interactive animation to locate/define a problem through an interface – sounds useful. But interactive animations over a wireless setup app with buttons that liquid morph into new shapes sounds pointless.
WowMakers say that the shift from UI to UX is evident, and it is now time to cater to modern users with short attention spans and being bang on-point. ‘We don’t create a product and wait for customers to come. We create a product based on the customer’s wants and needs.’ Because not incorporating the market demand will result in a loss of clients.
For example, vertical videos have been the rage of late, and true to that, there has been an increase in requests for vertical videos or adaptable videos that could work well in both horizontal and vertical dimensions. Animation and motion graphics will have to adapt to multiple platforms without losing its core message.
3. VR & AR Carving Their Way
According to the team at WowMakers, animation and motion graphics in a VR and AR setting opens up a host of different possibilities and increases the scope for imaginative ideas that could work wonders on immersive platforms.
As per Anix, the creative director of Adaar, the rise of Virtual Reality from being a gaming-focused ambitious fantasy in 2012 into an actual medium utilised by multi-national corporations and organisations around the world is in itself is a great example. Alternatively seen, purpose over design is now trending everywhere!
He also mentions that micro-interactions are subtle animations that enrich user experience and allow the user to engage with an interface in a single moment. Micro-interactions are possibly one of the biggest UX trends to date and are growing enormously. They are a focus point for the digi-sectors to up their game.
4. Fiction v/s Realism?
Fiction and Realism will both have their place in animated media, says Sonia Tiwari. The director’s vision, needs of the brand, likes of the audience, budget and timelines etc. will be the deciding factors for one of the two to surface at the top.
She has observed that the educational children’s media has had a very long history of fictional characters/plots to keep the narrative or moral of the story more relevant than realistic details of the characters like race, ethnicity, culture, religion etc. From Sesame Street to Curious George, fictional characters in children’s educational media are a “forever trend”.
While representing real issues like child labour, poverty and family health, she brings to notice that animated media uses some element of realism to keep the message focused or help establish a clear correlation with the narrative and content.
An example is Eeksaurus studio’s recent PSA for WHO that features Pipli art style human characters, which hits right in the middle of fiction and realistic spectrum, presenting real issues/human characters in a fantastical way.
The WowMakers’ team believes that with technology growing by leaps and bounds, magical realism can represent ho