Spot the Difference: Top 3 Graphic design trends in marketing

Graphic design goes hand in hand with marketing. When done right, it’s often what allows your marketing material to flow and transform into an emotional response from customers, what captures and maintains your market’s attention, and what heavily influences how your customers perceive and feel about your business. That means that where there’s a shift in taste for visual aspects and aesthetic that best captures an audience’s eye, design trends and marketing content will follow.

This past year has seen a shift in trends that allow businesses to meet both the marketing content needs of their brands or clients while still appealing to their audience’s current taste in design. See if you can spot the difference between past graphic design trends and what they’ve evolved into.


Muted Colors

“[This trend] doesn’t mean you can’t have colorful designs, but the colors will be muted, less vibrant, and so easier on the eyes.”

– Patricia Alix-Villa, Creative Director


Colors that have been desaturated with black, white, or complementary colors, or muted colors, have taken over bold, bright, vivid shades in order to give marketing collateral a more natural, genuine appearance. These colors are easier on the viewers’ eye and often work incredibly well with neutral colors. Brands like classpass have been using them to create  more authentic designs that are captivating without being too flashy.


Abstract and Dreamy Illustrations

“Once you develop a weird world and so much of it makes sense, you start coming back to it, because over time you’re chipping away and trying to make sense. You create this world because it feels right.”

– Steven Harrington, Graphic Artist, on the appeal of abstract and unconventional visual styles


Illustrations have become an increasingly popular form of content marketing over the past few years. Businesses began picking up on it as a way to stand out from the typical stock photos or generic designs, but eventually, with multiple businesses using the same tool for the same purpose, the distinctness wore off. The way designers and businesses like Doist have been addressing this problem was by shifting from the previously minimalist, clean, flatter styles of illustration to ones with overly exaggerated proportions, abstract elements, unusual color combinations, and unrealistic, whimsical aspects to it.  This trend works particularly well if you’re looking to quickly grab viewers’ attention.


Heavy but Simple Fonts

“Digital technology has given us an endless choice that can be bewildering to navigate…over the past ten years we seem to have returned to a simpler form of communication. ”

– Anthony Burrill, Graphic Artist, on the effectiveness of clean typefaces in communication


Designers have been leaning on heavier fonts that sit in the bold and black ends of the typeface spectrum as a way to promote visual hierarchy and get viewers to look at what’s important. In a time where attention spans get shorter and shorter, lightweight, overly styled fonts that blend into your design background and body text are out, and attention-grabbing heavy fonts are in. These fonts are usually used as display fonts, and for lines of text that are  more important than others, like Adobe did in this design or Chainalysis did on their website.