Visual Design Trends to Look for in 2019

Branding companies and products are all-encompassing, so I draw insight from every creative field, such as graphic design and fine art, but also fashion, interior design, comic books, and movies.

Staying on top of trends, and what they indicate about consumer preferences, is a nonstop effort.

As a creative director, I spend a solid amount of time nerding out on social platforms and websites. I love it, but it’s time-consuming.

When you’re deep into building a new brand or working on your marketing strategy, you don’t always have time to research design trends and consider how they could impact your brand despite knowing how critical that data can be in connecting with your audience.

Below are five visual design trends I predict will take shape this year that will help you stay proactive and efficient at growing your brand.

Why visual design trends are important

As a creative professional, trendsetting is a great way to get inspired by what other creative leaders are doing across industries.

When you’re setting the creative strategy for a brand, you need to know when to lean into trends because they are true to your brand or will resonate with your customer; or when to go against a trend and challenge your audience.

Brands that don’t consider what their customers want are sending a message that they are out of touch. They risk losing their market relevancy as well as connection with their target audience, customers, and even employees.

Five visual design trends to keep an eye out for in 2019

1. Bright colors

While timeless, minimalistic, and simplistic design make black and white always a good design choice, the constant presence of glowing screens has recently led brands like Lyft to push their personality through the use of bright colors.

Bright colors and even brighter gradients grab attention and make people feel good. Even for a brand focused on healthy sleep, like Dreem, thoughtful design can make the case for unexpected color.

Beyond warm and bright colors, neon tones from the runway will also inspire brand designers to push their RGB values to the next level to capture viewers’ eyeballs.

2. Super-functional logos

Logos have a lot of heavy lifting to do.

So it was no surprise that 2018 saw fashion houses — most notably Balmain and Burberry — and other big hitting brands like Bank of America and Dunkin' Donuts, continue to strip their visual identifiers down to their most basic forms.

This will continue in 2019, as the growing need for logos to read clearly across an expanding amount of mediums, from every size of digital screen to tactile elements like being sewn into apparel and displayed across varying environments.

“We’re losing those glossy sheens and skeuomorphic embellishments that are a hangover from the UI design 10 years ago,” says Chris Maclean, creative director of Wolff Olins. “We’re witnessing a return to classic logo design, where less is more, and anything that doesn’t express the core essence of the brand is discarded.”

Brands are embracing visual consistency with their marks and using targeted campaigns to better connect with their audience.

“More and more brands are [recognizing] that a cohesive brand identity can be a much more expressive palette than the logo alone,” says Maclean. “This means the identity can evolve while the logo remains consistent over time.”

3. Embracing imperfection

As mainstream companies like Patagonia and H&M embrace notions of sustainability with their products and seek to eliminate waste, creative designers will do the same and create thoughtful, handmade visuals for brands that feel immediate and unconcerned with perfection.

The Buddhist concept of wabi-sabi embraces authenticity and imperfection, and we’ll see this influence the look of any brand experts that want to create an emotional connection with their audience.

Sometimes, it’s the imperfections that will reflect an authentic sense of craftsmanship and reflect the realistic narrative of your brand’s story, while other brands will introduce unexpected "mistakes" in order to grab attention or show they don’t care (too much).

4. Organic typography

The 2018 redesign of the Chobani logo was a harbinger for organic, humanistic typography that we'll see a lot of brands use in 2019.

Flowing, hand-drawn typefaces influenced by typographers like Simon Walker add personality to a brand, while intricate linework inspired by the art deco movement of the early 1900s immediately signals quality and craft.

Organic typography and handmade human elements contrast nicely with a more generic cookie-cutter-esk logo, allowing a brand to uniquely express itself.

5. Illustration for humans

Popular workplace brands like Slack and Dropbox have started exploring whimsical, inviting illustrations as a way to bring life and clarity to abstract concepts.

This trend also has an interesting social component — creative designers and illustrators now have a license to reflect the full range of humanity, depicting people of every size, shape, color, and ability.

We'll see more brands explore ownable illustrations and unique visual environments, building on the work of great artists like Brian Edward Miller at Orlin Cuture Shop.

New year, new(ish) brand?

It’s never a bad idea to objectively look at the strength of your brand.

  • Is it resonating with your target audience?
  • Is it recognizable?
  • Does it translate who you are as a company, what you do, and what you believe?

If you answered no to any of these questions, your brand needs some love.

Connect with a branding expert here at Anthem to learn how design trends like these can be combined with your brand’s foundation and ethos (no matter what industry you’re in) to amplify its message and connection with your audience for years to come.