Graphic Design Trends: To Follow Or Not To Follow

graphic design trends

When a new year begins, there are several things running through an entrepreneur’s mind. One among them is perhaps the topic of graphic design trends of the year and how to incorporate them into the brand’s designs. Sounds relatable? We get it. Design trends are always a hot topic in marketing. 

But we cannot deny that the market is divided when it comes to graphic design trends. While some are eager to dive at the first sight of a trend others like to wait it out and some choose to stick with their signature style without worrying about trends. Which of these sides should you take? Should you really follow graphic design trends or leave them be? Let’s find out. 

What are graphic design trends? 

When you sit to design an ad for your brand or even a social media design, have you found yourself running out of ideas? You might end up looking into what’s trending on social media as a source of inspiration. That’s more or less what graphic design trends are about. 

At a given point in time, there might be a particular set of design styles or colors or fonts trending. And these often act as a starting point of inspiration for brands looking to try something new with respect to their marketing graphics. 

Based on the turn of events that lead to the particular design trend, it might pop up and vanish in a few days or weeks or emerge gradually and stay alive for months or years. 

Factors that give birth to new graphic design trends 

To really understand why graphic design trends matter (or not), you need to know about the factors that influence the emergence of new trends. 

1. Global occurrences 

They are the biggest influencers of design trends. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing was the need of the hour. Brands like McDonald’s, Audi, and others created ads to promote the idea. 

2. Economy 

The economic situation in the world is another strong factor that determines what graphic design trends emerge and what trends fade away. The purchasing behavior of consumers as well as global emotional situations change due to economic shifts. And these in turn determine the kind of designs that resonate with customers that year. 

3. Political situations 

Political events of a significant scale have a huge influence on social media discussions. And they determine the crux of conversations happening around the world. Throughout history, politics has influenced fashion. And the world of fashion, interior design, and graphic design are all quite closely connected. 

4. Cultural events

Major cultural happenings alter perspectives which in turn leads to new graphic design trends. For example, there might be new colors being used predominantly on social media following a cultural event. And suddenly many brands start using them. For example, in 2022, we saw several Y2K trends come back. This has opened up the possibility of seeing a lot of nostalgic designs and grunge elements and bright color palettes being used in 2023. 

5. New happenings in the world of technology 

There are always different perspectives when it comes to new technological advancements. But depending on what’s trending in the world of technology, brands tend to tweak their ads and branding graphics a bit. For example, recently, there has been a surge in the use of AI-generated designs. 

AI-generated designs look very much different from designs created by human designers. With several brands adopting them, there might be a shift in the visual styles that gain popularity. 

3 reasons why you should follow graphic design trends 

1. Show customers that you are market-aware 

When you are quick to adopt design trends that make ripples in the market you show your customers that you are well aware of the market. 

About 64% of customers expect their favorite brands to keep up with societal issues. So, by keeping up with trends that emerge due to social and political changes, you are keeping up with your customers. You are showing them that you care. 

When there were talks about minimizing the size of two national monuments in Utah, back in 2017, the fashion brand Patagonia modified its website. It went all black in protest and displayed the below message. 

Quick adoption of trends based on political issues means that you are taking a stand. Customers find this to be a relatable personality and love connecting with brands that have not just “names” but also “emotions” and “opinions”. 

2. Speak to your consumers in a language they understand 

Trying new trends on social media is one way people connect with other social media users and content creators. So, if you wish to join the conversation and engage with your audience at a more personal level, design trends might be a good start. 

Nearly 55% of consumers get introduced to and become better aware of new brands through social media. So, to keep up with the rapid pace of social media platforms, you need to know what’s trending and should creatively adopt these trends as well. 

For example, the barbiecore trend of 2022 caught the attention of brands and content creators. Soon social media flooded with pink posts and pink aesthetics. Adopting such widely accepted trends ensures that you do not miss all the fun. 

3. Gain a competitive advantage 

Part of what’s happening in your industry is shaped by the global markets and part of it is by what your competitors are doing. If most of your competitors are following some of the graphic design trends that are a rage and your brand isn’t, your brand looks outdated or even out of place in the eyes of your audience. To avoid that, you need to keep a close eye on the design trends that are being spoken about and actively incorporated by brands in your industry. 

3 reasons why skipping the trends might seem like a good idea 

Now that we have argued in favor of adopting graphic design trends, let’s also talk about some reasons why it’s good to skip some. 

1. A weak brand image 

While following design trends is a good idea, you cannot risk overdoing it. Remember that there’s always something new in the world of graphic design. If you constantly try to modify your brand’s graphics to fit the trend you end up losing your brand identity. 

About 87% of consumers prefer brands that deliver a consistent experience. Your brand’s graphics designs are part of the experience as well. So, if you keep changing the tone and mood of the designs too often, it becomes difficult to connect with your brand. And this leads to a weaker brand image. 

2. The pressure of keeping up 

To capture a design trend, you need to have graphics that do justice to the said trend. Not all brands can keep up with the pressure of churning out designs quickly and effectively to keep up with the trends. This puts added pressure on your marketing efforts. But you cannot put your regular marketing plan on hold to give way to these trends either.  

That comes as a reminder that you do not have to follow every single design trend that pops up. And if you wish to keep up, a dedicated design team or a design subscription will be of great help. But if you do not have the resources, focus on consistently delivering your brand message instead of struggling to keep up with trends. 

3. Swaying from your brand values 

Check if the graphic design trends in the picture align with your brand values. For example, ever since global warming became the core topic of discussion, brands have been adopting designs and ad copies that point in the direction of sustainability. But not all of them have tweaked their brand values to align with the design changes. PepsiCo’s Lipton ad, for example, was called out for greenwashing. The copy mentioned “100% recycled” only for the disclaimer to say, “Bottle made from recycled plastic, excludes cap and label”

Following packaging design trends or even general color trends superficially will do more harm than good. To avoid this, understand the idea behind the trend before you adopt it. 

Following graphic design trends: final verdict 

There’s no right or wrong answer. The key is moderation. As long as you have a steady set of marketing graphics representing your brand identity consistently, following graphic design trends will be a good idea. But to make them work in favor of your brand and not against:

With all these pointers in mind, go explore those graphic design trends that your competitors have already started using in their marketing designs. 

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