ABZ Creative Partners
2018 design trends

4 design trends to watch for in 2018

In an age where marketers are constantly vying for consumers’ attention amid a flood of images, videos and memes, designers are opting for a more audacious approach. Be on the lookout for these 4 major graphic design trends in 2018, which will be combined and used together for an overall striking visual effect.

1. Bolder colors + duotones

In response to the minimalism and clean designs of the past few years, there has been gradual shift to bolder, more vibrant colors. In exchange for the empty, white backgrounds, you can expect to see more unique color combinations.

Spotify has been a thought leader on this front with its use of bright, striking, duotone images. Duotone, a technique traditionally created on a printing press, has made its way into the digital sphere over the past few years. A duotone is a two-toned image created by superimposing one contrasting color halftone (such as black) over another color. We can anticipate further exploration of duotones this year as designers play with multiple light sources, double exposures, collages and colors.

Duotone – Spotify premium ad
Pluralsight duotone
Duotone – Mariachi band

eBay’s recent brand overhaul exemplifies this transition to more daring colors. The online marketplace now uses isolated, high contrast imagery set on colorful backdrops to display its products. We can expect to see more brands pushing the boundaries of their primary and secondary color palettes.

There are plenty of tools out there to help you explore and diversify your palette. COLOURlovers is great because you can scroll through the existing color combinations or filter by hex numbers or base colors. Color Hunt also offers a wide variety of pre-selected palettes.

Ebay redesign – featured sales and events
Ebay redesign – featured sales and events
Ebay redesign – featured sales and events

2. Gradients

So you thought we left gradients in the past, but Instagram’s new gradient logo of 2016 was only the beginning. Now gradients are making a comeback, particularly as background elements. Those bold colors we mentioned above are being combined into striking gradients, for everything from logos and background images to product packaging.

X Theme website gradient
Instagram website gradient
EDM production branding
Gradient exploration

3. authentic, custom imagery

There has been a movement away from overly polished, cheesy stock images toward authentic, real-world photography. More brands are using custom photo shoots to feature their actual products and employees in real-life scenarios. This refreshing shift has resulted in content that is more impactful and relatable.

The national brand REI, with its playful #OptOutside campaign and stunning photography, has succeeded in creating a brand that tells a story, making it accessible to active people of all ages. On a more local level, you can see some examples below of effective custom imagery from Charlotte businesses.

If you don’t have the means for hiring a professional photographer, consider taking stock images and customizing them with overlaid text or other subtle modifications.

REI header
Birdsong Brewing Company
Charlotte SPCA

4. IllustrationS + geometric shapes

Traditional media techniques are continuing to push their way into graphic design. The rise of hand-drawn elements and typography in marketing has paralleled the demand for authentic photography. Consumers are looking for integrity in design – a “human” element.

Detailed, vintage artwork can be found in product packaging across industries. Illustrations have made their way into logos, products and web design. Designs are returning to more organic, geometric shapes.

Again countering minimalist trends, this artisanal and hand-crafted aesthetic allows for original art and elaborate illustrations.

Mount Inspiration
Mount Inspiration
Mount Inspiration
Geometric soap
Vintage beer labels

I would be remiss to fail mentioning Dropbox’s brand redesign, which was released in October 2017 and incorporated all four of these growing trends.

Collin Whitehead, the head of brand studio at Dropbox, summed the changes up best:

“Our new brand system shows that Dropbox isn’t just a place to store your files —  it’s a living workspace that brings teams and ideas together. The look is expressive, with vibrant colors, rich imagery, a versatile typeface, and playful illustrations.”

Dropbox design

The new year is the perfect time to re-examine your brand image and make sure it’s aligning with your company’s mission and audience. Need help? We’ve got a whole team of marketers and designers ready to help freshen your brand.

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