We’re over a quarter into 2017, and I am here to remind you the design theme this year is “Simplicity
& Authenticity.” A great way to digest this theme is to take a look at some of the design trends happening in advertising and across creative practices.

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STRATEGY & AUDIENCE

ANTI-BRANDING. Evolving from “hipster” branding, this move calls for more transparency and declaration of values. This includes content that sets values and explains how things work and are produced, as well as their impact on the world at large. Stylistically, this approach is infused with elements that reflect further simplicity—natural beauty, handwritten typography and less being more.

Anti-Branding and The Future is Female

THE FUTURE IS FEMALE. At the forefront of culture and with more influence than ever in politics, women are being heard and seen. Campaigns with female voices and faces will bridge brand gaps of inclusiveness and diversity.

MILLENNIAL OR BABY BOOMERS, NOT SO DIFFERENT. While the millennials continue to be the most studied audience to date, they are about equal in terms of population—26% compared to the baby boomers 25%. Studies are showing that millennials continue to decline or stall on making life decisions (mortgages, marriage, pro-creating) and baby boomers are far past making life decisions (decades into their mortgages, married, children are grown). However, both of these groups are making similar purchasing decisions—immediate and (most often) self-serving.

Baby Boomer/Millennial, Storytelling and Listicles

LISTICLES VS. STORYTELLING. An at-a-glance list is a great option for quickly conveying information during those few minutes waiting in line or until a show comes back on. But brands seeking to have their consumers personally identify with their products and movements are focusing on the timeless idea that a story will resonate more than a list of facts. These stories are being produced with inspiring video content more and more.

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VISUAL STYLES

MINIMALISM. IT ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE. This trend has been evolving for a few years and will continue to expand to digital spaces. Semi-flat designs and geometric elements are trending due to their prevalence in user interfaces. Most popular now is layering multiple objects over one another as if on a digital table, with subtle shading and thin lines revealing just enough depth and gravity. A square, a circle, a line—flat and simple are reading as contemporary and technologically advanced. Audiences react positively to these elements as they declutter messaging and are used frequently to formulate clear hierarchy.

Visual examples of Flat Geometry, Color Transitioning, 3-D, Minimalism

THRILLING 3-D. An evolving reaction to many advertiser’s frantic desire to have virtual and augmented reality technology lead the next big boom, 3D artwork in a 2D environment engages viewers by giving shape to an idea. This approach also stems to simple animations in digital spaces. As GIFs and Snaps and Stories continue to peak into the coveted “viral” statuses, brands are looking for simplistic, memorable motions to stick in their customers’ mind. This applies to data, products and even logos.

COLOR: GO BOLD OR GO HOME. Pantone announced 2017 to be the year of 12-0343, also known as “Greenery,” described as “fresh and zesty… life-affirming… emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality.” It’s another direct influence from Google’s primary color palette and continued consequence of consumers spending more time in digital environments, where these bright colors serve up the strongest punch. Color transitioning started a few years back in fashion and has quickly gained popularity as we see major global brands like Apple and Instagram use them. Not surprisingly, bold colors work well for emphasis in semi-flat and geometric designs.

Visual examples of Greenery, Original Photography, 3-D, Bold Color Transitioning.

ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHY. “Original content” may as well be a tattoo all agencies got together a decade ago. With audiences’ dwindling attention spans and visual digital realms, the need for unique, authentic images is greater than ever. Most common in this trend are the candid, of-the-moment, dramatically lit shots that the best selfies out there would love to have.

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What are youer favorite design trends happening right now? Let us know in the comments!

Sarah Sargent is Senior Art Director at AKHIA.