With so many large scale changes in the world over the past year, brands haven’t been able to take many design risks this year. They also have to do a lot more with less this year.
So the trends point to graphic design relying on old favorites like muted color palettes, serif fonts, and simple data visualisations for clear communication. Things that invoke a sense of calm, understanding, and positivity in an ultra chaotic world.
Bold colors, brash fonts, and in your face marketing isn’t going to work now and into the future, as consumers look for a state of calm.
What graphic design trends will dominate in 2021? Check out some of the biggest graphic design trends below.
1. Muted Color Palettes
Muted color palettes really took over the graphic design world last year, and show no sign of stopping anytime soon.
If you’re not really familiar with muted colors, they are basically vivid colors that have had their edge taken off with an infusion of black, white, or a complementary color.
After years of bold and bright colors, people seem to want something a little more relaxed and understated.
Especially with so many negative, confusing and loud messages we have all been receiving over the last year or so.
Muted colors feel safe and secure, even nostalgic. In addition to making a graphic feel more authentic, muted colors also feel very natural and organic.
With health and wellness being a topic on most people’s minds, we think that organic muted colors are going to be used by a lot of consumer brands going forward.
Personally, we like using muted color palettes because they blend well with text. A darker font really stands out against the muted backgrounds and other elements. Unlike some fast shifting graphic design trends, color palettes usually take at least 3 or 4 years to become overused and not trendy.
So don’t be scared to swap your color palette to something more muted.
Or better yet, use your brand colors as a jumping off point and create a few secondary color palettes that you can use in your visual content.
2. Simple Data Visualisations
The goal of any data visualisation should be to make the complex data easier to understand.
We also think someone should be able to understand a data visualisation without much extra context. You really shouldn’t have to explain what you’re trying to show.
There is a ton of complex data flying around in all parts of our life. As a designer or communicator, you should be making that data less scary and easier to comprehend.
Lately, people have been dealing with tons of data, so don’t make them work to understand your visualisations. Because they won’t…they will just keep scrolling.
3. Geometric Shapes Everywhere
This year a ton of brands have started using geometric shapes in their designs.
If you look at some of the other graphic design trends this year, the shift actually makes a lot more sense, they can add order, consistency and structure to a visual.
Because geometric shapes are so exact and precise, they create a lot of good contrast when used with a more natural muted color palette.
The right amount of contrast, like between a soft muted color palette and hard geometric shapes, can make a visual very eye-catching.
Last but not least, you can simply use geometric shapes this year to add some texture and depth to your graphics. So get out there and start creating.
4. Flat Icons & Illustrations
Graphic design trends are pretty cyclical. After a while, something will go from trendy to overplayed and then back to being trendy again.
Flat icons were all the rage almost 5 years ago and this trend has come full circle.
These flat icons can also be consumed very quickly. And even if you saw those visuals without any context or text, you could still understand what the designer was trying to say.
Icons can be a powerful tool for visual communication. With a few icons, you can tell a simple visual story that will give a lot more context to your social media post, blog post, infographic, or video.
There are a few ways that you can use flat icons this year to upgrade your visuals.
The best part of these icons is you can easily change their color, size or orientation. This also makes it easy for non-designers, to create amazing visuals.
5. Classic Serif Fonts
Serif fonts are one of the oldest font styles or typefaces that are still in use. They date back to the 15th century and have been in use ever since then.
Because of this, serif fonts are commonly seen as classic, elegant or trustworthy. They can evoke a feeling of nostalgia for a large chunk of the population as they seem trustworthy.
Just as we noted earlier with muted color palettes, brands are trying to seem a lot more genuine and positive going forward.
And so some brands are even using serif fonts with muted or neutral color palettes to really drive the point home.
earlier with muted color palettes, brands are trying to seem a lot more genuine and positive going forward.
Some brands are even using serif fonts with muted or neutral color palettes to really drive the point home, possibly because serif font makes information and photos feel like they came from a real person, not a bot.
So when you want to use a new brand font, take the time to think about how it’s going to fit into your visual brand.
6. Social Slide Decks
Social slide decks are exactly what they sound like: slide decks that were created to share on social media.
These slide decks are mostly shared on Instagram or LinkedIn because of the way that those platforms handle images. They could work on other platforms but the experience wouldn’t be as smooth.
Additionally the algorithms on Instagram and LinkedIn seem to promote these slide decks a lot more than a single image.
These slide decks get about 10-20x more impressions and clicks then a simple visual or graphic.
They are mainly used to summarise an article or repurpose the most important content from a blog post. And they also used very simple data visualisations to make the information easy to understand without much context!
So no matter what your goal or industry, your brand should take advantage of these social slide decks in 2021.
7. Text Heavy Videos
As people will likely continue to work remotely well into 2021, shooting new video content is going to be very difficult.
You can’t really jump over to your video room and shoot a quick video with your team anymore. Or even hire a freelancer very easily.
At some point, people are going to get tired of seeing someone talk directly to their computer. We know we are! So we really believe that video content is going to lean on text and motion graphics a lot more this year.
What we like about simple videos is that they can use their brand colours, fonts and voice in each of them. This helps them present a unified brand across all of their marketing channels.
They also don't need video footage to be shot, which means they can turn them around a lot quicker as well.
Instead of needing a whole production team to create a video, they can have a few people knock an idea out in a few days.
As you can see these simple videos can help you repurpose a lot of content for different platforms and networks.
Even if your company is cutting down on content creation, you can really give old content new life with a simple video or slide deck.
As you can see, this year the graphic design trends are not going to be changing THAT much.
In fact, minimalism and simple graphics are probably going to be very popular as brands try to stretch their budgets.