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Design Trends 2018

Look back at 2018’s most popular design trends.

Reflecting back on the biggest trends for 2018 – How much of your work this year has been influenced by these Trends?

In many ways, graphic design is a reflection of our collective consciousness – what we like, what we’re bored of, and what excites us. Because of this, identifying trends and knowing how you can recreate  is essential. In a world where we’re bombarded with advertising, having all the right tools to create a powerful and unique brand identity is more important than ever.  In this post, I’ll be taking a look at some of the most popular design trends we’ve been seeing in 2018 so far, and why they work.

Responsive Logos

Because screens come in all shapes and sizes, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to digital branding is essential. When a potential client or customer is checking out your site using a mobile web browser, they don’t want to see a page that’s cluttered or takes forever to load.

It’s not just mobile users we need to worry about – social media channels, apps, and wearable technology all bring their own unique design challenges. If a company logo will clutter a mobile screen, how can it be manipulated to take up less space, without losing any of its impact? Here are some examples of how this can be achieved:

2018 Design Trends: Responsive Logoso

Of course, this principle is equally important for general web design – no matter what device your website visitors are using, they’ll be expecting a site that loads quickly, looks good, and is easy to navigate. If your website doesn’t tick all those boxes, they’ll move on to one that does. Web design platforms such as WordPress offer some great responsive themes, so the static layouts of adaptive design are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Colour gradients

This visual technique refers to the gradual transition from one colour or shade to another. For some of us, this dredges up unsettling memories of WordArt and bad PowerPoint presentations, but luckily the technique has been resurrected in an altogether more stylish fashion. The key to using colour gradients is not to go overboard, which is why it works so well with ‘duotone’ – a half-tone reproduction of an image using only two different colours. Spotify have used both of these techniques to establish a fresh, fun, and distinctive brand identity:

If you want to use colour gradients, it’s a good idea to refresh your memory of colour theory– which colours go together, which don’t, and why. After that, are some great tools that can help you get to grips with the basics; Grabient is a free webapp that gives you access to custom gradient backgrounds and their CSS codes. If you’re using Photoshop, it’s well worth making sure you know how to make the most of the gradient tool.

Moody Tones

Our obsession with the 80s and 90s isn’t limited to leopard print and synthesisers – we love the whole aesthetic. This enthusiasm is manifested in the ‘moody tones’ trend, which mimics the look of classic film and TV by using low colour saturation. This trend is everywhere – from web design, to branding, to magazine fashion shoots. One of the reasons it’s so popular is that it’s unlike anything we see in real life – it’s the design equivalent of seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses. Moody tones add a sense of nostalgia and comfort, which is great for helping customers feel familiar with a brand they’ve never seen before. This was one of the principles behind the branding I created for ‘Rise and Shine’, a high street coffee brand. It’s a look that’s fairly simple to achieve with tools such this dark and moody preset package for Lightroom and Photoshop.


Creative typography

No one likes a boring font, and most of us have seen them all before. Being creative with typography can therefore be a great tool for grabbing attention and establishing tone. There’s lots of interesting and bold concepts out there, such this cereal-themed example which experiments with form and function:

Vintage Fonts

Vintage fonts are still incredibly popular, sparking a new trend of updating the classics. One very effective example of this is the typeface used in the American Horror Story logo, which is a variation on Charles Rennie Mackintosh Classic. This has really helped create a distinctive brand, with a font that’s synonymous with the show, no matter what it’s spelling out.

SOURCE CREDIT:20th Century Fox Television.

In a bid to stand out, many brands are opting to design their own typography, which can be a tricky task. If you’re working with web-based branding, you’ll want typography that is suitably adventurous and unique, but not so heavy on graphics that it takes forever to load. Although this can be quite a task, don’t underestimate the impact it could have – 94% of first impressions of a website are based solely on design.

Negative Space

Essentially, negative space refers to the open space around an object which defines its shape. This trend works best with simple images or typography, and it can be a wonderful simple way to make your branding a little more interesting. An example of this we’re probably all familiar with is the NBC logo, with the body of a peacock cleverly hidden amongst its brightly coloured feathers. This was designed back in 1986 –  a great reminder that a strong logo concept is timeless.

Although it’s one of the simpler techniques, negative space can be used incredibly creatively. Without doubt, the best example of this is the below artwork for Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium – first we see a tree, and when we look closer, see the profiles of a gorilla and a lion hidden in negative whitespace.

As designers, it can be be tempting incorporate certain trends into our work simply because we know they’re popular. However, an overused trend quickly becomes bland and generic – the exact opposite of everything branding ought to be. Utilising the right trends within the framework of your own unique design concepts, however, really can make the difference between branding that’s good, and branding that’s great.

Design Trends 2018

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