In a world where many new media types are being invented and vying for our attention, the need arises to stand out and be noticed among the din. As far as visuals are concerned, standing out necessitates creating something that is both impactful and noticeable. The problem with this is sometimes that means relying on “Flavor of the Month” ideas, which can mire a brand into an era and ultimately render it irrelevant. This is a challenge we face as visual designers.

Every year about the same time, our industry is presented with the “hottest” palettes or individual colors that eventually propagate from Pantone swatches to kitchen appliances. These could be colors that usually have not been used together or colors that have retrospective value.

Either way, there is always a temptation to become fixated on these in which case we adapt and overuse. They may cause some attention getting at first but ultimately sink our designs into ubiquitous obscurity. The same is applicable to “hot” fonts, shapes, photographical and graphical styles. When placed heavily into our toolbox, the knee-jerk response is to use it in every occasion, the catalyst for which can be time, budget and the need to create something immediately pleasing. When these things come into play, it is very easy to go for the low hanging fruit. Design needs to keep fresh but fresh does not necessarily mean trendy.

Trends do have their place in fresh design. When added to our toolbox and used either sparingly with solid design principles, or in conjunction with a dab of classic design styles, we can keep design fresh without risking future obscurity. Consider the new trends but try and put YOUR personal spin on them. Filter them through YOU and your design sensibilities and you will end up with something fresh. You may even create something new. Sometimes just a dab of trendiness will do.

Another way to stay fresh is to look back at the classics. Bauhaus, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Mid-century modern can always be reinterpreted to accommodate present ideas. The irony here is reinventing a classic look and using it sparingly can actually freshen up things.

Another way to keep things new would be to cut yourself off from inspiration sources and just go from the gut. Combine that with keeping things simple and you can always come out with something original. You may even create a trend.

An example of the fine line between when and when not to use a trend within your creative work is the substitution of graphics for text. Although graphic representation is an increasingly popular aspect for design, there can be chance of graphic overkill. This is caused when a designer implements far too many images on the content they are creating. Graphic overkill can overwhelm a reader and can cause them to be unsure of what they are looking for. Try looking at your work from a consumer’s perspective. Is it aesthetically pleasing without making you feel bombarded?

Another lingering disadvantage to this trend is unless the graphics being used are simple and self-explanatory to every reader, there is always opportunity for confusion; which can be detrimental to what the content producer is trying to get across to the consumer. Again, looking at this from the consumer’s perspective, ask yourself, are the images I am using in place of text basic enough to where they leave little to no interpretation?

When done right, however, the use of graphics in exchange for text can be extremely beneficial. Graphic implementation on any platform can offer a more interesting way for the reader to obtain the information that is being displayed. Not only does this offer a more interesting approach but also allows the audience to efficiently visualize what you are trying to tell them.

At the end of the day, trends are not something to completely avoid. They can be quite useful. The problem is when they are relied upon solely, things tend to get stale.

If you’re looking for ways to freshen up your business’s design materials, please give us a call at 701-478-1111 and ask to speak with a marketing advisor, or contact us at