Design trends for 2018

Christiaan Van Rooyen | Designer Design

The Art of Siamese fighting betta fish movement black background - design trends 2018

Braver colour design

The Dropbox rebrand design made strong use of vibrant colour.

“2017 has been a riot of colour, with graphic designers making big, bold choices,” says Shaun Bowen, creative partner at B&B studio. “Perhaps in an effort to inspire positivity after a difficult year in 2016, we’ve seen an influx of bright colours, often with flat graphics and only one or two colours used at any one time,” he adds.

“More and more brands are also using their core packaging hue as the backing colour in posters and supporting graphics.”

Max Ottignon, co-founder at London branding agency Ragged Edge, tells a similar story. “We’ve noticed our clients getting braver,” he says. “Fluoro colours and clashing tones have moved away from edgy start-ups into the mainstream. eBay’s new identity has colour right at its heart, using it as a way to communicate both its breadth and inclusive personality.”

Mireia Lopez, creative director at DARE, concurs. “We’re seeing the use of vibrant colours in juxtaposition with bold imagery,” she says. “This can be seen as a response to minimalism and material design, from using white spaces and clean layouts to unexpected colour combinations and distinct varied typographical styles – and is across all areas of branding as well as digital.

“The new Dropbox brand direction, for example, is doing this with its creative use of images, and corporate identities such as NatWest are shifting to a fresh and modern feel, using the potential of brighter colours to increase higher conversion rates. In my field, digital, this development is probably due the fact that sites can load faster and screens on phones are bigger, so it’s easier to play with images.”

“Using bright colours helps content stand out from meme-filled social media,” notes Nathan Sandhu, founder and creative director of Jazzbones Creative.

Hyper brand distillation 

YouTube’s new logo and branding, designed in-house.

“Throughout 2017, design has been getting simpler, yet richer,” says Ottignon. “In a world where user experience is king, complex brand systems get in the way of the content. Function overrides superfluous design details, and every brand asset needs to earn its place.”

Brands are striving to streamline their core assets, but looking to pack more meaning and distinctiveness into each element, he argues. Often this starts with the name.

“Naming briefs are increasingly becoming ‘How can we distil as much meaning into as few letters as possible?, Bulb remains a great example of this, communicating product, purpose and tone in a mere four letters. Or Nested, a proptech startup whose name delivers on both a functional and emotional level.”

Naturally, it also means scalable, digital-first symbols packed with meaning – think YouTube or F1, where an entire brand can be distilled into an app tile or a profile picture.

“There’s also a noticeable trend towards bespoke typefaces, such as IBM’s Plex and BBC’s Reith – not to mention Camden Market and Giraffe,” adds Ottignon. “This allows a brand to show up distinctively wherever it appears, without introducing anything that isn’t strictly functional.”