Trendy or Timeless? How to Utilize Design Trends For Maximum Benefit

, Posted on May 16


Just like anything else in our society that “trends”, there is usually a rise and fall that comes along with it. We live in a society where ideas come and go, but only the best stick.

While a trend may be quite appealing at the current time, it’s important to know when and where to utilize it. Trends that attract a ton of attention in 2014 may be viewed as less than great a few years from now. Utilizing design trends in conjunction with your company’s current branding is a great way to stay up to date and add extra impact to your company’s advertising or marketing materials, but you must be careful not to actually change the brand, which can bring about unexpected consequences.

How a Brand Should Approach Design Trends

A brand established on trends will not carry the strength it once had when new trends arise, and the older trends become obsolete. You must keep your branding timeless and add the trends when your company is launching a new promotion, ad campaign, Web graphic, etc.

Trends should be utilized on materials that are constantly changing, rather than changing your brand to meet the trends. You also want to consider who exactly you are trying to reach. Maybe your company typically aims to reach people over 40, but you want to open the market to 20-somethings due to a new promotion. Heck, maybe you just want to widen your client base. Trends apply to different groups of people in different ways and are a great way to keep your brand consistent while reaching new audiences.

One example of a trend seen quite often over the past few years is a resurgence of retro/vintage design aesthetics, which encompass an abundance of banners, seals, flags, badges and distressed typography. With so many companies following the same design trends, how can they still set themselves apart from the bunch? It’s all about how a company utilizes design trends in combination with existing branding to convey a message.

Just remember, it’s important to stay ahead of the game. When current trends start to fizzle out, you don’t want to be stuck with that design. This is especially important regarding your company’s brand, as well as the company’s website.

Your Company’s Brand and Its Standards

Your company’s brand is essentially the personality of the company, and we all know first impressions are everything. How the company or organization chooses to brand itself is crucial to the longevity of the image it wants to convey. Once a brand has been established, changing it can cause mass upheaval and unbearable havoc! Not really, but it will inevitably confuse your company’s customers/clients and community, resulting in lack of confidence in the brand or even being seen as an entirely different company. I won’t get into what makes a good brand in this post, but I can tell you how to use your brand standards in conjunction with design trends to help your company create fresh marketing materials.

Most companies that have established a brand usually have some sort of brand standards. These standards are essentially the rules of the brand and should be referred to when anything is to be designed for your company. Everything from the color scheme, typefaces, logo usage, copywriting style, and layout configurations can be incorporated into your company’s brand standards.

There are a few pieces related to a company’s brand that should not be changed, or trends implemented upon, including:

  • Company logo. In a perfect world, your company’s logo is absolute perfection, and it should never be changed. There are some exceptions: Your company is in dire need of a complete rebrand or the logo is outdated, looks trendy and needs a refresh. As previously mentioned, if not carefully organized and implemented, this can create a lot of confusion with your audiences.
  • Brand identity collateral. Along with a logo, a brand package typically contains a business card, letterhead, envelope, etc. Some companies may require more collateral, i.e. a website, brochure… you get the idea. These materials should always be a direct reflection of the company’s brand and remain consistent, adding brand recognition and helping to build brand equity.

Utilizing Design Trends

Let’s say you want to launch a new marketing campaign, advertise for an event, or you need a new promo graphic for your company’s website. These types of short-life materials are where you want to utilize design trends. There is a fine balance between going too far with a trend and keeping your company’s image fresh.

For example, you don’t want to spend months and months on a new trendy website only to find out the next trend is already being rolled out, making your new website look stale from the launch. Stay ahead of the times and consult with your design agency on what the best option would be for your company. They can help you determine which trends have been around and also help identify up and coming trends in the design world.

In any case, the piece still has to look like it came from your company. How do you find that balance? Take an inventory of the elements that comprise different trends and see if it makes sense for your brand while examining how well your brand’s elements play with it.

You may be asking yourself, “Should I use design trends, or is it too much of a risk?” The short answer is: Yes, you should use them. If your company’s marketing materials are stale, old, or just need a bit of an update, trends are a great way to add some extra impact to your company’s advertising/marketing materials. You can even apply them to your company’s website, but you want to make sure it isn’t a trend that has been around too long and will fizzle out over the next few years.

Many of the same trends are being used for an array of companies, but the way your design team combines your existing brand with a trend is what makes the perception of your company unique. Do not be afraid to implement design trends, just be careful where exactly you apply them. Make sure they fit your brand and will resonate with your audience.

Always remember, you are trying to enhance your brand and keep your company fresh, not confuse your audiences.