One of the questions I'm asked the most, is "Can we use this particular pattern or texture within my brand?", Or "How about we go for this kind of style for the logo?".
When I get asked this question, particularly before we've done any of the groundwork and foundation-building for your brand, I tend to sit down with my clients and ask them a question in return: "WHY do you want to use this pattern, or create this style of logo?"
You see, most of the time these sorts of styles tend to be something that you're seeing elsewhere or online at the moment. For example, one of the biggest trends of the moment is an abstract-style painted texture. It's not to say that these sorts of textures aren't beautiful – because most of them are! But if the reason that you're choosing these is because you’re seeing the design style around and you like it? I'm sorry to say that your brand visuals and design will not last for the long term.
The problem with design trends is just that: they are a trend. Trends come and go over time, and if you create a brand brand design style that is purposely fitting in with a particular trend then as soon as that trend is over and no longer fashionable, then your brand will soon look outdated and unfashionable itself.
The other reason that trends are bad when it comes to designing your brand is that you are often basing the visual style for your brand on your own personal preferences. Instead, you should be creating brand visuals and styles that help you to connect with your ideal audience, reflect your values and personality, and make clever use of design theory to craft brand foundation and style with real intention and purpose behind it.
Using design trends as inspiration can be useful. You can get a feel for where the market is heading in terms of visual style and what works with real audiences. After all, trends are a trend for a reason.
However, using design trends as your main source of inspiration for your brand visuals and styles can also be harmful to your business in another way. The more businesses that create brands that blindly follow trends, the more these businesses blend together. You can no longer stand out from the crowd because your visual style (and therefore your brand and your business) looks just like everybody else's does. I bet you don't have to look far to find a gold (or some other 'precious metal') texture used in someone's brand, or an editorial style serif typeface.
And where does that leave you? Well for one thing, it makes it incredibly hard for you to differentiate yourself. Let's also link back to your values. Let's say that one of your values is ‘being unique’, because you create incredibly intricate and unique cake designs for your customers. If your brand is looking like everybody else's, you're not living your values out through your brand – because your brand looks like everybody else's.
This is why brand strategy and brand foundations matter. There's no point in diving straight into the visual part of your design, without first taking the time to establish your goals, figure out your vision and mission, and work out a way to weave all of this together with your brand visuals.
I also want to encourage you here. Creating a brand is hard work. Imagine having to do that every couple of years, which is what would happen if you followed design trend blindly when creating the visual style for your brand.
One of the most important pillars of any brand – from your foundations through to your visuals – is consistency. Consistency breeds familiarity. If you want to redesign your brand every couple of years, your audience would only become confused.
By taking the time to properly consider what your brand should be on all levels, you're going to create a more consistent feel, style, and tone to your brand. And this ripples out into your business at large as well. Because by choosing to focus less on what is popular in the world right now, and being a little bit more introspective and figuring out the real nitty-gritty of your brand, you can craft a brand that is built to last.
Now don't worry, I'm not gonna leave you high and dry. Here are a few tips of things you can do instead of following design trends in your business and brand. These are things that you can either do yourself, or you can work with your designer on to weave into your brand.
First of all, you need to figure out what your core values are. These can be both values for yourself or for your brand. As an online business owner, it's more than likely that you are your brand. Your customers or audience by into who you are as a person, and how you present yourself in your business. By figuring out your core values you can make sure that these are weaved into every single aspect of your brand, from the brand foundations all the way up to your brand visuals, and the content that you put out into the world.
You also want to review your vision and mission. These are two of the core aspects of your brand foundation that will help you to create a more sustainable business in the long run, because you're always going to have this vision and mission that shape what you do and the decisions that you make.
Finally, you can use design theory to help you shape the visual brand that you want to create. For example, learn more about colour theory and how the colours you choose will impact the way the audience interacting with your brand will feel. For example, it might be that one of your values is calmness, in which case it is unlikely that you will use colours that are more energetic in feel and nature.
By using these three tips, you can shape how your brand appears visually, as well as how your audience will feel when they interact with it. From that point, you can make decisions on your visual brand that unless design trend led and are instead based on the feelings, values, and theory that is most relative to your own journey.
Rachilli is a creative studio dedicated to empowering every independent creative, business owner + small business to brand their business authentically, aligned to their core values, mission + vision.
We also want to empower other's with chronic illnesses to carve their own path and create a life + business that works for them, and to lead the way by creating a platform for, and being a voice alongside, those with chronic illness in business.
Rachel, the founder, is an award-winning designer + photographer, published logo designer + author, and is mama to two - slightly crazy - dogs, Storm + Jasper.