The world is becoming more and more unpredictable. The same can be applied to graphic design. It may be said that the only solid forecast for graphic design is that anything is possible.
A design director at Elmwood, Alex Halfpenny mentions that nothing will be considered precious in 2020. Designs will range from flexible typography to gradient and multiple colors. It will also need to move with the pace of on-demand culture, an unstable political climate, and a society that has short attention spans and little patience.
Minimalism has been dominating the digital world of design since 2010 and is has been intensifying while coming into 2020. Designs continue to become flatter and strip away extra embellishment or flair. These designs are also moving toward a simple straightforward presentation. There has also been a rise in two-dimensional illustrations and fonts that are easier to read.
Users are able to interact more with flat designs. They are able to find what content they’re looking for immediately. More and more designs are coming out with their content broken down which makes it easier to read. Though the flat design has a history of being cold and unfeeling, it can be designed to be warm and cozy. It can have a light white feel with the color palette being warmer with pale yellow, sage, and beige.
While the popularity of flat minimalism is rising, the backlash against the design is also rising. This backlash resulted in the rise of vibrant colors and abstract three-dimensional illustrations. Three-dimensional rendering will help push these designs even further. Another way of making three-dimensional illusion happens lies in layering.
More and more designers have been creating a three-dimensional feel by combining layers of abstract shapes, images, and typography. Some have also added bright colors and gradients to give more life. Adding neon colors or vibrant colors help the design stand out more. The addition of subtle color gradients helps the color feel alive while giving the design an optimistic youthful aesthetic.
There has also been an influx of designs that use the type-only approach. More and more brands are choosing typographic design instead of photography and the rate of this instance is predicted to rise. More bespoke typefaces and typography are being used to define elements in a brand. In line with this, designers are innovatively playing with artistic typography, semi-transparent fonts, and maxi typography that has been split into several lines to form various shapes.
This is a trend that continued from 2019 with the use of bold yet simple typography. It was found that this technique has been effective. It has been effective in the sense that brands are having an easier time delivering messages by simple singular yet strong statements. It has proven to be beneficial for brands that get straight to the point.
Many high-profile designers are catching on this trend and it is positioned to go mainstream. More design rules continue to be broken as designers have become more creative with typography. It can be said that 2020 is the year of variable font predicting more bold fonts and decorative typography that could push traditional boundaries.
With the popularity of typography growing comes the two divergent typographic trends from 2019. The first is the super-maximalist approach. It uses three-dimensional distortion and lively letterforms. This is mixed in with alternative methods of image creation using collages or acid graphics to make the overall design.
The second one is the comeback of the ultra-minimal editorial approach. This can be achieved by tiny typographic touches and a commitment to a presentation by getting rid of all the excess. Both are considered popular as they cut through the dullness of clean geometric sans-serifs of Instagram feeds or subway walls.
Since 2019, there has been a rise in animation’s involvement in branding. More brands have been using cleverly crafted animations that bring their brand and their message to life. GIFs have grown more popular in recent years on social media platforms. GIFs and little animations have become prevalent in email marketing and web page design.
More brands are using GIFs for notable events strewn throughout the year. A popular example of this is Google using mini animation for certain days. It is believed that GIFs and animation will proceed to remold the digital landscape in the coming years.
Interaction with users has been further emphasized. It is important for the brand to use storytelling, and animated mascots to deliver content and help users identify the brand. There will be a rise in the GIF format as more and more designers will explore it as it presents a big opportunity.
There has also been a rise in multisensorial moving content. Motion design and moving images have become more and more popular than still pictures or designs. Brands have become increasingly aware of the importance of good motion design. It has become a tool to further convey or communicate a brand’s key message. Motion design is also unique which makes it stand out from other designs.
This trend is expected to rise as BBC2 and ITV have been popularizing this mode of design. This also pushes design boundaries as it incorporates several artists to make this design happen. With the shortening attention spans nowadays, it is more important than ever to find new ways to catch the peoples’ attention with motion graphics coupled with the brand’s sound. Brands will gain more recognition when their visual appeal transcends into multisensorial branding.
Motion design will also be used in different ways. It can be used in hyperreal geometric or sculptural three-dimensional forms in plastic-like, colorful materials, generative computational work in both two dimensions and three dimensions, quirky typography animations, and expressive character-driven narratives.
Some designers are seeing a shift towards creating meaning in motion or motion with intent. A popular example is the new AirPods website by Apple. It is predicted that motion design will appear more in 2020 in different combinations of mixed media.
Another popular trend from 2019 that is gaining more popularity in 2020 is adaptive typography. This is because designers have discovered the more productive and practical uses for kinetic fonts. Deformed letters, disruptive typesetting, and bespoke glyphs spark the interest of the viewer. This means that intrigue takes precedence over legibility in the design hierarchy.
A good example of adaptive typography is Uber Move. They created a sans-serif typeface that played a major role in their rebranding. Their brand message was delivered using moving posters hyper-effectively. More big brands will be making use of moving typography as the main graphic element in their web and social platforms.
In 2019, many areas of design seemed unremarkable, coldly functional, and dull. This brings 2020 to the concept of graphical disruption. This is the type of design made to intentionally grab one’s attention and stop them in their tracks.
There was a lessening in calm controlled color palettes while negative space and refined fonts have dominated. It is replaced with intense almost bordering on rebellious colors and picket sign font that heavily use black. The graphical intensity and perceived sense of urgency haven’t been seen for some time. It also comes back with the surge of social, ecological, and political unrest.
In addition to this, there has been a rise in the spirit of rebellion. Designers are encouraged by changemakers. Popular samples include fonts inspired by Greta Thunberg’s handwriting and writings on the Berlin Wall. Designers will also be able to experiment more with typefaces resembling vandalization. Some brands that attempt to replicate this look in an inauthentic manner will feel the public backlash.
There has been a backlash to Instagram-inspired idealized, overly filtered, and retouched images used in campaigns. With this, there has been a rise in un-touched images. These utilize real people instead of models and represent more diversity. Brands have realized the potential of celebrating their consumers in their campaigns. This is more prevalent in the fashion and beauty industries, but it can transition to different industries over time in 2020.
There has been a shifted focus to Gen Alpha. These are people born during the 2010s who are around nine or ten years old. Though they are young, they make a great influence on their family dynamic and consequently their spending behavior. Brands who ignore them may suffer in 2020.
Gen Alpha is more at ease with technology more naturally and instinctively than any previous generation. This will impact brand touchpoints and micro behaviors greatly. Branded moments will be made to be softer and more empathic. The subtleness will make it more meaningful in day-to-day activities. 2020 will see more a rise in interface-less crafted moments that make customers happy which encourages brand loyalty. Photo by makingsensestudio.com[/caption]
Since 2010, brands have been leaning into organic, natural, and calming packaging design. This trend is still on the rise in 2020. This is largely brought about by the depleting planet and a craving for transparency and openness.
Brands like Nike and Adidas are showing more honestly in their styling and photography. They also chose to focus on real people in less staged environments creating a desire for more one-on-one interactions. More technology companies are embracing aesthetics and materials brought about by nature which is more in tune with peoples’ homes. It brings about a rise in a simple presentation that is rich in meaning.
Organic and natural
There has also been a focus on sustainability. More and more brands are trying to design packaging that is recyclable and ethically sourced. In addition to that, companies are also trying to focus on the way the packing is made as sustainability has become an issue nowadays.
Designers are now becoming more and more aware of the collateral they create and take responsibility for it. This results in the desire to find more sustainable techniques, finishes, and materials for new products or projects. They are pushing for more environmental alternatives such as simpler techniques, natural paper stocks, etc.
Design in 2020 has become more human-focused. This is brought about by the changing attitudes towards gender and sexuality. More designers have been moving away from traditional notions such as if it’s for a woman, it should be pink. It is now being gravitated toward personalization and the real person behind the product.
This means that there will be a rise in gender-neutral characters in advertising. It is becoming more important that brands reflect what’s happening in the real world. This means having designs reflected towards the younger generation who identify as gender-neutral.
In line with this, brands have also become more vocal about their stand on political and social issues. Cause-based branding is becoming more prevalent in 2020. Equity-focused design and marketing will continue as brands show they believe everyone is equal and important in value.
There has also been a push for more brands to make stories more believable. It is predicted that 2020 will push brands, even more, to make their stories more believable and authentic. More brands, regardless if they are old or new, will need to introduce the roots of their stories in any way possible. Designers can aid this by looking into the past for inspiration and mixing fonts with colors and designs from the brand’s vault.
The last trend in 2020 is an immersive experience. Some are convinced that 2020 will also be the year of augmented reality (AR). It is believed that it will dominate the design industry. Tools such as Spark AR and the new features in phone and camera technology will make it easier to make professional content. Brands are now turning to AR to increase sales and engagement as a result of this.
Design that focuses on experience is already making waves and will continue to do so. The experience empowers the consumer and the consumer becomes part of the brand experience instead of just being a receiver. This is done by making technology more physical.
An interesting example of the is Burberry when they used their WeChat to make a parallel social event for a big launch. They included live streams, forums, and virtual tours of the exhibitions. This made people more connected to the brands as they felt it was personalized. It also invites people to become part of the brand’s story, and it sells more.