The turn of the calendar year is a popular time to reflect on trends of the past year and forecasts for the next. We’re now several months into 2015, but a few weeks ago I received an e-newsletter from an online resource that looked at up-and-coming visual trends for this year. Some of them weren’t surprising, some I had never even heard of and some I had seen but didn’t realize were a “thing.” Since then, I’ve started to notice these trends popping up more frequently and it got me thinking.
The word “trend” has taken on some different meanings in the last few years. I’ve always associated it most often with fashion, an industry built on the idea of trends. Season to season and year to year, fashion trends are expected to change on a fairly defined schedule, although style trends spill over into other industries as well. If I say to you “1970s living room” or “1950s diner,” I’m willing to bet you have a fairly solid vision in your head of what that looks like. (Burnt orange shag carpet? Cherry red and chrome counter stools?)
We still live within the predictable cycle of the fashion industry, but trends in popular culture go far beyond fashion. Social media allows us to see trends in our collective interests from week to week, day to day, and even minute to minute. And the more we share and the more people we share with, the faster and farther these trends spread.
Staying on top of current trends is often readily accepted for corporate social media efforts, but what place should trends hold in the rest of your company’s design and communications? I used to automatically dismiss trends as something to be avoided, but I’ve come to realize that’s nearly impossible. Colors, fonts and typography, illustration and photography styles – all have trends. They may not change as quickly as what’s trending on Twitter, but they cycle all the same. Does that mean you have to rebuild your visual identity every few years? I don’t think so. But maybe it means there’s some room for flexibility. Trends are a snapshot of popular opinion and not every trend is going to be right for you – the key is finding the place where your brand and the trends that resonate with your audience overlap. That’s the sweet spot where you can connect with the people you’re trying to reach. But keep an eye out – it may not be the same spot next year.
Elin joined the Neuger Communications Group team in 2004. Her exceptional design skills have shaped countless beautiful print pieces, websites and e-communications projects for a wide variety of clients. Elin also lends her experience and insight to communications audits, branding strategies and other endeavors. She is the undisputed typography expert of the office, and after her month-long Rotary-sponsored tour of Sweden in 2014 she can undoubtedly converse about “fönts” in at least two languages. Learn More About Elin »