The world has had a shaky first half to this year. In Australia, we saw the year start with historically widespread and devastating bushfires, then COVID-19, #BlackLivesMatter going from Twitter trends to global awakening, and now the globe is re-evaluating its ways and structures given the long history of social, economic, and political failings.
With all this chaos, the graphic design still plays a vital role in how we connect with one another, share our stories and experiences, and motivate others to action. As we pass the halfway mark of 2020, I’ve decided to look at some of the industry trends we’ve seen and anticipate continuing into 2021 – if we ever see it?
Trend 1: Social Good and Sustainability
I’ve looked at the value of design in crisis, but this has become a lasting effect of COVID-19. We’re seeing more conscious use of aesthetics and a greater sense of inclusion, diversity, and social good. This hasn’t just meant more designs that focus on the greater social issues of today but has included more environmentally conscious decision making in terms of design choices – less paper and plastic use, more digital options, and an overarching mission to create awareness of social injustice, cultural diversity, and ecological sustainability. This is one trend I hope remains strong in the coming years.
Trend 2: Animation
According to Wyzowl, 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool in 2020 while 92% of marketers who use video say it’s an important part of their overall strategy. The study also showed that 87% of video marketers say video has increased traffic to their website and 81% say video has helped increase the average time their visitors spend on page.
The most created types of video are explainer (72%) followed by a presentation (49%), testimonial (48%), sales (42%), and ads (42%). Furthermore, 96% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service and 84% of people say that they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video.
Consumers expect more video content and the brands that have a comprehensive video marketing campaign are able to connect with a wider audience, particularly as we watch presentation design becoming increa
Video and animation remain vital to the way businesses communicate with brands, especially as webinars and social media present vital channels for reaching consumers. GIFs have also become a massive force in social media and a playful way for companies to create and share content that is quick, fun, and engaging.
Trend 3: Minimalism
We’re always big advocates for simplicity in design and content. During this time of uncertainty, design is focused on providing trust and credibility to audiences, opting for simple and intuitive visual elements rather than something ornate. This about using primary colours, easy-to-read fonts and infographics, and focusing on audience understanding.
Imagery is also becoming more personalized and focused on real individuals rather than epic, staged photography. We’re seeing many brands softening and simplifying designs through use of more approachable typography with fewer capitals, more circular letterforms and clean, naturalistic icons.
Trend 4: Typography
Minimalism is leading to more type-based designs with a personalised touch, often utilising hand-written fonts and hand-drawn imagery. Typography is crucial in keeping designs simple and functional, especially when everything must be easily comprehended by new users.
However, typography can also be used in creative ways to help clarify something that appears complex upon first impression. One example is this lyric video from Sydney-based artist, Askew Bedu. Not only is he responsible for the music (lyrics and production), but he created this video with an iPad and stylus, using hand-drawn and animated typography to further illustrate his words. More of this in 2020, please.
Trend 5: Mixed Media
Many of our experiences are now mixed media, which means more designs that blend arts and crafts elements, collaging different media into someone new and exciting. Design is seeing more use of overlapping and layering compositions to create texture and volume while combining traditional arts with digital creations.
We’re seeing designers experiment with depth-creation and a mix of varied elements such as photography and illustration with torn paper edges, fabrics, cut-out text, and visible paint strokes. This technique is often used to create a single cohesive image from several disparate elements into an asynchronous design.
Mixed media is also prevalent in our daily lives, whether it be our social media feeds, our news networks, or the way we access services. Designers and businesses should be offering more multimedia experiences to audiences, particularly through social media and webinars. As audiences are spoilt for choice in terms of content, creators have to be more versatile and more accommodating to different markets.
Trend 6: AR and VR
The idea of mixed media extends further with this trend as we see more businesses explore more ‘second life’ experiences, particularly as COVID-19 impacts and restricts public gatherings. The technology to support these kinds of ideas and designs continue catching up to our imaginations with VR headsets and AR apps cheaper and easier to develop than ever before.
AR and VR are excellent for engagement because it combines interactivity with visual immersion. Businesses are using QR codes, online communities, and well-designed experiences to create something truly memorable that offers audiences the ability to explore, connect, and become part of the presentation-design experience.
Trend 7: Cyberpunk
While the last couple years brought a visual obsession with dystopia, this year we’ve opted for the real thing in life and more cyberpunk in design. This means bright and bold colours, futuristic themes, and heavy use of technology, sci-fi, neon, and luminous colours. Imagine Blade Runner but in Tokyo, that kind of vivid brightness with technological innovation that feels futuristic yet accessible.
Trend 8: Street Art
While cyberpunk celebrates an urban-futurism aesthetic, 2020 has also demonstrated the branding trend of street art. This yearning for a more retro, lived-in cityscape has brought street art back into prominence. There was a surge in street art popularity with the likes of Banksy and Shepard Fairey capitalising on graffiti and becoming household names themselves.
However, this yearning for street art may have a more human element of nostalgia – a drive to rebel, to break conformity, and demand change. The social movements and political crises around the globe are taking graffiti out of the galleries and back onto streets where it began.
We’ve got resources and assets for several of the trends mentioned, from pre-made animations to our Ultimate Guide on Webinars – all of which were designed in PowerPoint – the powerhouse for design suite creativity and flexibility.