To stay on trend or not to?

To stay on trend or not to stay on trend?

Trends will always come and go, and we get it, it’s fun to want to ride the storm of all things ‘now’, though when it comes to developing a brand identity there is a reason you shouldn’t stay on-trend.

While we’re seeing lots of recommended fonts and colour palettes suggested for people to use, it’s important from an identity development point of view not to fall into the ‘samesy’ vibes and to stick that something that is solely value and direction aligned.

Below we’ve outlined some examples of when you should and shouldn’t stay on brand.

1 – Brand identity – Straight up, no.

A brand identity should stem from a brand strategy, this means that anything you create should have something that aligns with the foundations of the business. Direction, target markets, positioning, placement – these things are important. If you use ‘trending’ assets, regardless of how nice they look, it will not only date your material to the timeline of the trend, but it will make you blend right on in. What we’re seeing now is lots of ‘modern serif’ fonts, arches, and bright gradients. And, that’s not to say you can’t wrap those elements into a brand identity, but you need to do it strategically. Try taking individual elements and inspiration from those trends as opposed to embedding each and every element all at once. Take it and make it yours.

A brand identity needs to be just that, an individualised identity, so the last thing you want is to become invisible and blend in purely for the sake of a pretty style. The goal is to be timeless with simplified amendments (unless of course you change your whole direction and head in for a rebrand).

Remember the hipster badge logo trend? A thing of the past and no differentiation. Hell, we just banged that together for you for shits and gigs in all of about 5 minutes.

An example of the badge style hipster logo trend

2 – Individualised campaigns – Yes, but strategically.

This is where you can flex a little, especially if your brand has some street cred. Promotions that have a duration that come and go can provide you with an opportunity to get in on the trend. If you can individualise it in a way to capture attention, go for gold. The important thing to remember here is that your predominant brand identity structure needs to stay front and centre. A great example of this type of thing is done with a lot of craft beer brands, where they change up their packaging designs for seasonal or specific ranges, but the overarching brand identity is still evident somehow. 

Below is an example of the beer can packaging by Garage Project, who we are big fans of. Their logo is always evident and plays a role in the design. The individualised design however changes, and that is a cool way to bring in different elements in a branded way.

3 – Events and promotions – Yes, and again strategically

Event branding can play a huge role in brand recognition, and the last thing you want to do is design in a style that provides no memorability. Like packaging, events are usually within a set duration and can transition in and out with a different look, though as mentioned in the previous point, so long as the hierarchy brand is evident and recognisable. This is where you may start to see things like branded themes come in, so that there is a distinct differentiation, so people can quickly identify. 

A great example of this is the Olympics. Each city that hosts it has a distinct identity but the overarching brand structure remains intact and recognisable. Take a look at the below examples:

Examples of olympic logos

4 – Social Media – No.

It’s not recommended to stick to trends with branded social content, and if ever there is a place for oversaturation of a similar look it’s here. The point is to stop people in their scroll, not to blend in with them.

Canva can be a stickler for this with off the shelf templates running rampant, there are bound to be double-ups. Now, we’re arent saying not to use these, Canva is a cracker tool for DIY and in fact, we design our client’s graphics so they can embed them into Canva to repurpose, but that’s just the thing, make it your own somehow so it’s unique (Psst, you should totally check out ‘Create scroll stopping graphics‘ session for Designs Cool).

All in all, there is obviously a reason a trend exists, and they have to start somewhere. They have an evolution, and you want to make sure that you are joining the party at the start or when it peaks, and not a moment after. We actually spoke about this subject regarding the tipping point on IG (check it out here). For now, if you’re dying to work with a trend (because let’s face it, they can be cool) tweak it to make it unique to your brand, so that when it fades out, the element you included becomes a distinction.

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