Shifting Trends in Brand Design for 2018

Posted: December 4, 2017

By 2018, an estimated 84% of communications will be highly visual. With Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat rapidly expanding the horizons of visual content, this trend is certainly not slowing down anytime soon.

Authentic brand visuals

By 2018, an estimated 84% of communications will be highly visual. With Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat rapidly expanding the horizons of visual content, this trend is certainly not slowing down anytime soon. We are swiftly moving away from soulless corporate stock photography and closer towards authentic and relevant brand visuals to create a unique brand story that connects with consumers. The current trend of using unfiltered, candid photography to capture the spontaneity and emotion of a moment is said to continue next year.

As with photography, original brand illustrations and graphics will play their part in creating stronger social brand assets. Graphic design will move towards a more natural feel with sketchy lines, hand-drawn graphics, hand-drawn typography and more unique design elements will become more popular.

This year saw the shift towards more outlined icons, images and logos instead of solid images. This trend will cross over into 2018 and we can expect to see more companies shift their branding to modern and simplified outlines and graphics.


When it comes to the use of colour, there will be a bold shift to bright colours instead of pastels. This must be music to the ears of intense colour lovers. With brands like Spotify and Instagram using gradients to give a simple yet bold look and feel, we can expect other brands to jump on board, especially in the digital space.

According to Pantone Color Institute executive director, Leatrice Eiseman, metallics will remain a classic, but will move into neutral shades. She also predicts a continued infatuation with iridescence, since "the human eye can absolutely not avoid" anything pearlized or translucent.


Typoghraphy as a design element will be taking centre stage. We’re already seeing colourful, playful, and artistic fonts outshining images. Eliminating images altogether and relying on expressive typography to create cleaner layouts with more negative space is on the rise, as is using big bold typography for headlines or visual texture. Serif fonts alone or in combination with a sans serif will also be making a comeback. We can expect to see variations of text over – or hidden under – images to create the illusion of depth, as well as highlighting and underlining words to give prominence to certain words.

Mobile first

Making a brand part of the user’s lifestyle will become increasingly important. The digital trend is certainly nothing new, but as we move into 2018, brands can’t afford not to have a strong mobile presence to remain relevant. Designing with mobile in mind should be non-negotiable. Identifying your audience as majority mobile-based is the first step, followed by stripping content and visual hierarchy to the bare minimum to create a simple, functional user experience.

Life happens at scrolling speeds in the social media realm, which means that brands need to work even harder to cut through the clutter and create thumb-stopping content. Making information quick and easy to consume has become a non-negotiable. It’s not just about reduction – it’s about creating impact. According to trend analysts, brands will be looking at even more disruptive ways to become top-of-mind.

With augmented reality and virtual reality becoming more accessible, 3D and experiential design is now something brands can use to create a stronger brand journey.

The rise of brand ideology

Successful brands stand for more than just a great product, they stand for a great idea. Brands need to create meaningful interactions in order to connect with the aspirations, beliefs and lifestyle of its target market. It is no longer good enough to build brand loyalty. It’s about creating passion brands through active brand advocates. Brands will need to look at more innovative ways to connect and turn consumers into brand believers.

Brands in hearts and hands

More than ever, it’s become imperative to make brands lifestyle partners. By creating content and placing it in your user’s hands, in and amongst the rest of their likes and lives, we need to be sure to make it feel like a welcome addition to their timelines and eyelines, instead of an ad that takes up space. These are all trends that we can embrace going into the new year.