On the other hand, “creative knowledge can hide your sources” — a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein, but more probably coined by comics writer C.E.M. Joad. (No, right?) So, it’s not difficult to know what’s trendy either way. Just lift your Smartphone’s eyes and look around–or don’t!
It’s important to understand the how and why of the development and adoption of trends. As trends have a lot to tell us at the end of the day about our cultural moment, what we love and hate, what we want to do. The closer we come to understand these things, the closer we come into the heads of others— to feel empathy for them, again and again.
3-dimensional illustration in Web Design
When you think that the future is flat, brands such as Pitch and Stripe throw a new-format illustration behind their brand weight: 3D.
Designers, who do not satisfy Slack’s popular cut-off illustration style, are looking at adding depth and realism to graphics that blur digital-physical boundaries.
This sharpens the contrast, even as it brings them together, between digital products and human beings in an imaginative space that allows people to understand and to manipulate digital elements (such as graphs and icons in the hero section of Pitch).
- from playful wordmark to a serious logo — aka, the Helveticization of brand identity
In 2018 we saw several highly visible brands transforming themselves from deliciously excentric brands to more… hem… expected… without serifs.
Otherwise, as I like to say: every brand identity ends up with a Helvetica version.
Of the three brands we have in mind, none have gone directly to the old standby. And one — Mail chimp — has developed in a way that is honestly more appropriate for a brand that has become a key element of their marketing with a distinctive voice and playful brand assets.
However, rebrands can feel a bit like a familiar development for each of these companies towards what you could not unfairly refer to as stable boring corporatism.
- Outlined type:
We are like any design brand here at Webflow, great fans of typography, so we’re constantly looking for new text trends (see more below!).
So when Zack called the emergence trend out, we saw what the new thing was holding for us in letterforms. It turns — it’s been empty.
There is something elusive about the half-passing, half-passing text that draws and keeps an eye immediately, requiring you to follow the letters to their natural conclusion. This makes it a very practical technique for unforgettable branding.
A visually lighter, branded letter-form certainly captures a sense of tradition — but different — in a world in which chunky without strands dominate. What a new brand ultimately needs: a sense that it is revolutionary and reliable.
- The continued rise of brutalism:
There is a brutal future.
(Too real? Well. I know. Sorry.) The brutality of your face these days seems particularly appealing. Whether the web was dominated recently by a natural pendulum, a rejection of the sweetness of a million brand voices and illustrations, a middle finger in front of the so-called’ homogeneous web’ or by an act of resistance to the ever more surreal combination of fact and fiction on the web–this is something that is not denied.
The persistence of Brutalism suggests an interesting facet to the emergence and adoption of design trends that reminds me of the late-Nineties’ pop-punk phenomenon (here to date!): whatever the trend, no matter what it might appear’ rebellious’ or’ in your face’ at first glance, it could and will become a part of the popular market. And this growth can last for several years from the “subcultural” trend to the mainstream.
- More diverse, iconoclastic illustration Designs:
Illustrator Alice Lee reminds us in her amazingly detailed and thoroughly fascinating case study of her work for Slack: really great things happen if we look beyond our immediate colleagues, competitors, and industry for sources of inspiration.
And while it is easy to see the work of Alice starting an increasingly homogenous illustrative style among SaaS product firms and other startups, finding designers other than Alice that works in other fields take little more than a tone.
For example, the medium and intercom explore the photo collage style.