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Graphic Design and Branding Trends 2014 Review

By Jasper, 11. December 2014

Wow! What a year it’s been! As the year draws to a close, it’s always nice to take a look back over the year to evaluate some of the year’s trends, to think about where some of them are heading and which trends are yet to make a real impact. In terms of graphic design trends, there was a continued shift towards an authentic look and feel. While this trend is by no means a new one, it’s definitely one that has continued to find new expressions over the year. The tech world continues to develop in quantum leaps and 2014 showed no signs of slowing. Web design continued to develop towards a simpler and flat UI with key launches by Apple. Mobile has begun to effect web design ever more as its usage sky rockets. There’s simply too many trends to go through in great detail so I have hand picked out a few of the most interesting and industry changing from this year.

 

BRANDING

LOGO:
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Hand drawn lettering: A continuation of the trend towards authenticity and hand crafted goods, 2014 saw hand lettering move into the mainstream. Brands looking to find a more unique handmade look and feel are well served by this more bespoke approach. For those of us who are critical of the CS tools available these days this trend is a welcome relief and hopefully one that will be here to stay for a while.

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Line Craft: A beautiful trend that has produced some truly stunning logos over the past two years. This trend has showed little signs of stopping this year, but I believe it will lose favour quickly. While simple and beautiful, this design trend lacks a certain vibrancy and versatility to hold on for much longer. Brand’s looking to stake a clear position in the market can suffer from the lack of differentiation in this style.

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Geo Wires: The trend of geo wires has made a significant impact on the graphic design industry this year. This trend spread out of logo design and across graphic design and print in an astounding array of different interpretations. Geometric, edgy yet almost organic in their structure, geo wires are undeniably aesthetic. My only criticism would be that I think this trend will feel dated quite quickly, so I wonder if it has longevity for brand marks and logos of the future, particularly with the current trend towards a more flat UI.

Hexagons: A long-time favourite of our honey producing friends the bees, 2014 looks to be the year of the hexagon. This shape has found its way into all sorts of applications, from logo design through to print and even web. Its natural geometric structure and ability to tile has made it a firm favourite for the year. I think this trend will certainly hold on for a while as its application spreads through web design. Perhaps the most interesting thing is what will come next in this area. Are there any future shapes more effective than the hexagon?

TYPE:

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Mixed type: A further development from the authenticity trend, this trend has found a wide range of application. Interesting will be to see how this more adventurous and skilled assimilation of different styles of typography will find its way into mainstream corporate design. Mastering this trend is a fine line between art and design disaster so tread lightly.

Adaptation to flat UI: A lot of great type has been developed in response to the move towards a simpler and flat UI. A lot of the typefaces coming out will surely find a wide range of application over the next year’s as their minimalistic style conforms well to other mediums. Legibility, simplicity, and function will remain key drivers in this area.

 

ADVERTISING

Real Models: Pioneered by the likes of Dove, 2014 has seen a continued move towards a more realistic display of models and real life scenarios. Some countries are introducing bans on ‘photoshopped’ pictures in magazines. So this very positive trend looks like it will become the industry norm rather than a marketing gimmick.

Branded content: This seems to be where the industry is heading as a whole. The really big winners seem to be those that are creating something worthwhile watching, and more importantly, sharing. This is moving from a trend to a simple change in the fundamental mechanics of the medium as a whole. While brand and consumer both benefit, it feels like consumers of the content are the real winners of this trend. Power to the people!

 

WEB

Single page websites: Mobile scrolling has changed people’s behaviour and reversed the “Everything must sit above the fold” trend from a few years ago. Static navigation bars have helped this approach find a mainstream usage and overall it seems to gel well with users trained to scroll by increased mobile phone usage.

WILDDESIGN | Service Design is not about APPS

Flat UI: Apple has pushed this design style quite heavily and this is another example of mobile UI effecting desktop UI. iOS7 began the move to a very flat design and now with the launch of ‘Yosemite’ and iOS8, Apple has made a pretty clear indication that they believe this design style is here to stay. While I appreciate the simplicity of the design, I wonder if it will ultimately be too limiting to hang around for that long. Although with an entire ocean of designers still adjusting their mind-sets and design output to this more simplified style, it is surely here to stay for a few years yet.

Parallax scrolling websites: Still a very popular design but has settled down a little bit from its initial boom. Designers have toned down the effect quite nicely and are using it to enrich the content rather than overwhelm it. That said, I do not think this style will stick around for too long as the next programming innovation (or gimmick, you decide) catches fancy and brands hop on the band wagon.

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Responsive design: As with most developments in the tech world this trend has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ in a very short time. Mobile usage is showing no signs of slowing and in many cases it’s the primary interface through which consumers are interacting with brands. Currently, I believe most designers are still approaching the process from desktop down to mobile. I wonder if this will change with mobile usage overtaking desktop usage in coming years.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Short Video: Short video communities such as Vine have grown significantly in 2014. It seems to be a reflection of the generation which has grown up with mobiles and shows an almost non existing attention span in this new bunch of consumers. While brands have made significant advances in regards to branded content in longer video formats, it seems they have yet to find relevant applications for this shorter medium.

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Rise of the gif reaction: Interestingly the gif has been around for a long time and has found real traction this year. These gifs or moving images have captured the attention of a younger generation, but more interestingly have found a wider range of applications this year. Used as a way to dramatize reactions to messages posted on social apps like Whatsapp and Wechat, these gifs feel like a progression on from emoticons. With increases in live video calling and voice message sending, gifs may have their days numbered.

 

OTHER

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3D Printing: No surprise at all but 3D printing continued to make solid progress in 2014. This year saw practical applications as well as more creative ones. My personal favourite being 3D printed typography. At WILDDESIGN we also got our first 3D printer, in fact we installed the same machine in both our offices. Visit the following link to check it out: Hello 3D Printer, welcome on board!

 

So what’s next? What will 2015 bring? Check back in January as I review the design trends that will shape the design year 2015.

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Jasper

Jasper

Born in Germany, but raised all over the world, Jasper feels at home wherever he is at the time. Wildlife, photography and brands are his 3 great passions in life.

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