From fashion to technology to food, trends can be found in almost every area of culture and business. Some trends quickly come and go while others make such an impact that they become a way of life (see social media). Trends can be trivial, or they can say a lot about the times we’re living in.

As a designer, you might cringe at the thought of someone calling your designs “trendy.” But graphic design trends don’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, integrating trends into your marketing designs might be a good thing for customer engagement. If your marketing material design doesn’t reflect current culture, you might be pushing consumers away from your brand and towards brands that appear to keep up with the times.

So, what graphic design trends are making an impact in 2016?

Flat Design

Inspired by digital usability, flat design is a minimalistic design approach that features “clean, open space, crisp edges, bright colors and two-dimensional/flat illustrations.”

Flat design examples

Images credit: Brafton

Flat design doesn’t mean boring, and it can actually make a bigger impact on your audience. A simple image conveys your message quicker and more effectively than a detailed illustration (Why do you think icons are so popular?). Customers believe that less is better. Will you brand believe the same?

Material Design

Thanks to Google, 2015 became the year of material design. Material design describes a visual language characterized by “deliberate color choices, edge-to-edge imagery, large-scale typography, and intentional white space” for a bold, graphic look.

Material design example from Google

Image credit: Google

Many consider material design “Flat 2.0” since it adds light/shadow, depth, and movement to flat design.

Bright, Bold Colors

Bright, bold colors are part of both the flat design and material design trends, yet they still warrant their own shout-out in this list. Color trends are moving away from muted palettes for richer, more vibrant tones. Pantone’s Spring 2016 Color Report exemplifies this trend with colors that “transport us to a happier, sunnier place.”

Pantone Fashion Color Report for Spring 2016 featuring bright, bold colors

Image credit: Canva

Negative Space

Negative space is “the space that surrounds an object in an image.” In many cases, this negative space is simply white space. Now, designers are using negative space strategically to add a double meaning to design such as this logo for The Swan & Mallard Restaurant by John Randall.

Negative space example from John Randall's logo for The Swan & Mallard Restaurant

Image credit: John Randall

Negative space can help your designs embrace minimalism, or it can take your designs to another creative level.

Visual Storytelling

Visual content is the rockstar of your marketing mix, and it’s easy to understand why. The human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster that it can decode text, and 93 percent of all human communication is practically non-verbal. When you combine graphics with well-written copy, you stand a better chance of capturing the attention of your target audiences.

Infographics have been trending for several years now thanks to their shareability — Infographics are shared more than any other piece of visual content. But their greatest potential lies in their visual storytelling capability. What story can you create from your data that engages your customers?

The Badger Group designed a series of 4 infographics for Fort HealthCare's booth at the 2015 Jefferson County Fair


Typography Trends

More and more brands are having fun with typography. Typography trends range from the dramatic — size, color, texture, or arrangement — to old-style serifs. Be on the lookout for big fonts, italic and all caps for logos and headings, and typefaces that appear to be hand-drawn.

Dramatic typography example by SNASK for The Washington Post Magazine

Image credit: SNASK

Serif typeface design trend example

Image credit: Creative Bloq


Remember, the graphic design trends you incorporate into your marketing must make sense for your brand and your audience. Following a trend that doesn’t fit with your brand can do more harm than good. However, when a design trend does fit, it can take your marketing efforts to the next level and help you connect with your audience in a new, more effective way.


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