With the UK creative industries growing at twice the rate of the economy for the last two years running, it’s safe to say that in a time of fervent uncertainty, there’s power in design and what it can do for brands and businesses.
After a bumper year of launches, redesigns and recalls it’s clear that the consumer goods industry is not (yet) slowing to the meandering beat of Brexit. Brands are innovating, renovating and stretching. On the whole, brands are becoming more consumer-centric, making efforts to step away from only their truths and product promises, into the colourful world of the consumer.
As we step into the unknowns of 2019, it’s more important than ever that we take a moment to pause and consider some of the macro themes that will influence the way consumer brands behave and, importantly, look in 2019. Here are five emerging brand design trends we will be working on in our role as brand creators and champions.
Have we hit peak wellness?
As a macro trend that has been with us for the last 10 years (and the rest), have we finally reached saturation point? Brands (wholesome or not) seem to be pointing the same direction, with natural colour palettes, heroed ingredients, quirky copy and soft claims dominating the food and drinks industries. Is it time to consider a new, more distinct way?
Is it time to stop following fashion and create crafted identities that do the talking?
Fashion has always been at the bleeding-edge of design, in many ways setting trends that trickle all the way through to consumer goods. But this year has been a sea change in terms of brand design. Established houses such as Burberry, Balmain and Berluti have walked away from their distinctive assets, favouring bold impact - and dare we say - category generic brand identities.
Tone of voice has never been more important. Overlook at your peril!
People have been liberated. Their voices are heard, through social media, customer reviews and protest. The democratisation of brands is tipping even further - with consumers expecting and insisting that brands follow values that are true to their beliefs. This creates a conundrum for functional, more product-centric brands whose personality doesn’t naturally fit into this discourse. For brands that are naturally more consumer-centric, the tone of voice along with personality and values need to be extremely well defined and expressed in order to stand apart.
Breaking the category has never been harder
Dwelling time at shelf is reducing. Attention spans are being shortened thanks to mini-ads and prolific insta-scrolling. As consumers become savvier in their ability to disseminate through visual stimulus, the ‘old tricks’ of category disruption no longer apply. Colour cannot be banked on. Pattern is becoming commonplace. There are only so many ways to visually show your product. With sustainability becoming an increasingly important consumer concern, could structural design - with a sustainable intent - be the way to break the codes and cues that are becoming increasingly generic?
Brands should be desirable
Brands have a duty to tap into people’s aspirations and desires. By commanding higher prices, we’re demanding a higher value perception. But beyond all of the above, are we really creating objects of desire? Pieces of packaging (not necessarily limited to premium) ought to be thinking outside of the box - looking to other modes of design and creativity for inspiration. Interior design for home care, fashion, art and illustration for personal care and beauty, haute cuisine, mixology and food photography for food and beverage. This is the new visual world we need to compete with, for which you can thank Instagram.
Rosie Brodhurst-Hooper, associate director – design strategy, Dragon Rouge