By Sam Jones  |  September 30, 2016


“What is your artistic inspiration?” ­– this is the most challenging question for our clients during our brand kickoff meetings. It’s difficult for them to form a descriptive and concise answer because often times they can’t clearly communicate the brilliant visions that are in their heads. Being able to speak the designer’s language will enable you to build a strong foundation for your designer to work off of.

Just like traveling to a foreign country, key phrases like “Hello”, “Where’s the bathroom?” and “I’d like a ____.” can go a long way. Even if you aren’t fluent, the locals can probably piece the puzzle together. Like traveler’s key phrases, knowing design trends can serve as your trusty language guide when talking design with your designer. Good designers will try to extract your vision and create a design custom-fitted to your brand. They have to balance on a delicate tightrope when using these trends as a reference point. The design should be on-trend but not too regular, all while having a unique voice and style that differentiates your brand from the many other companies worldwide. Trends are a powerful tool to incorporate into your branding and visual campaigns, but it is imperative to use them while tailoring to your brand, to gain a creative edge and know when to slowly phase them out.

Here are some of the top design trends that swept through 2016 that you should ask your designer about during your next meeting:

• Minimalism

Minimalism is a revived visual art and music movement that awakened in America in the early 60’s that encourages the “less is more” approach. This design style rebels against complex visuals and features clean, open layouts and the use of negative (white) space. The process of minimalism revolves around taking away the unnecessary elements in the design and placing focus on the literal purpose. Have you ever walked into an art gallery and saw an abstract painting hanging on the wall and thought, “I could’ve done that.” This style can pose a sense of ease because of the literal and direct approach it has, though it takes some strategic planning and eye for design to pull off properly.

  Minimalism minimalism_2_le-pastel-by-claudia-argueta minimalism_3

• Grid Systems

Designing with grids provides a method to the madness. It’s a perfect way to combine a lot of imagery or information without overstimulating the audience. Grids are shape-shifters, that can evolve into complex shapes or basic structures depending on the intended audience. More irregular grid systems offer a dynamic and unexpected approach while traditional layouts can make subject matter easy to comprehend. Modular layouts like the one pioneered by Pinterest exists throughout numerous web designs, social media platforms, and editorial spreads.

grids_3_huntt-web-design Grid grids_2_huntt-web-design

 • Bold Colors

Have you noticed those bright 90’s inspired colors and pops of fluorescents circling back around? These ambitious colors aren’t a design faux pas; these enriched pastels and bold hues often fill large pages or letters and shapes to create eye-catching visuals and place emphasis on key details.

  Bold Colors bold-colors_3 bold-colors_2

• Large Photography and Hero Images

The use of large photography is attractive, descriptive and can even be animated. This design style called the “hero” trend exists in many editorial spreads and websites today, especially with the rise of product photography. Breathtaking landscapes that extend the full width of the screen are much more captivating when trying to describe a picture-perfect shot of the Amalfi Coast. In the same respect, macro shots, which zoom in to focus on details can be pleasing to the eye and give the viewer a more realistic insight into what the product will look like up close. Apple highlights their products in such a fashion and has worked tremendously in their favor. (Among many other aspects of course!)

  large-photography_3 Large Photography large-photography_2 

• Diverse Typography  

Typography is a trend constantly in motion. Each typeface has a unique voice. Big, bold letters may have a louder and direct voice while smaller letters with rounded edges may speak softer to the audience. The best use of type is to carry forth brand consistency, making sure that the voice and tone align with the objective of the design.

Here are a few trends just in typography that aren’t going away anytime soon:

Classics Serifs

Modern San Serifs

Calligraphy and Hand-drawn Type  


Vintage designs are diverse in style and span through many decades and art movements. This design style builds a sense of trust and authenticity. With brands like Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola having displayed reliability and longevity through the ages, the vintage aesthetic inspires endurance, personality and places emphasis on the craft. Vintage design can come in the shape of badges and seals, custom illustrations and hand-drawn fonts, decorative elements and industrial design techniques.

serif-font_new Vintage vintage_new

So don’t be afraid to use some of your newfound lingoes when talking with your designer about your next big idea. The more solid the vision the more accurate the interpretation will be. These trends are a great foundation for designers to keep in mind when taking the good, discarding the ugly and infusing them into their own creative styles.