Top 5 brand design trends for 2021

Rebecca Jaggs

Creative Director | Design Team

  • January 18, 2021
  • 4 minute read

As we know, art imitates life – and so too will the design trends for 2021. After a year in which everyday life as we knew it had to be reimagined – fast – we expect 2021 will see the impact of this mirrored in brands’ marketing and designs.

Here’s our forecast of the top 5 design trends to look out for…

1. Minimalism

Minimalism is one trend that’s here to stay. This is largely due to customers’ changing relationship with technology and brands, set against a backdrop of intense online competition.

People have grown accustomed to generously spaced, lightning-fast websites that deliver an intuitive user journey; they’ve tired of roadblocks such as incessant pop-ups, waffly content, and over-stuffed menus (check out our thoughts on those here).

Design trends for 2021: minimalist website

Design trends for 2021: minimalist website

Moreover, mobile devices account for roughly half of global web traffic. A vast proportion of us opts to visit a brand’s site via smartphone – even more so during the pandemic. This necessitates a simple design that adapts well to small screens.

Email marketing workflows are quickly becoming a staple of a well-designed customer experience. Sticking to clean, succinct layouts and messaging helps your email command attention in an increasingly noisy inbox.

2. Going retro

Is it any surprise that we’re all feeling a little nostalgic at the mo? Looking back on rosier times is all the rage right now, and, as a result, we’re seeing a shift towards classic designs.

Many brands are opting for retro serif fonts and colour palettes. Aside from looking beautiful and catching the eye, these vintage styles instil a sense of comfort and trust associated with a bygone era, evoking positive emotions in the customer and capturing their attention.

3. Eco-consciousness

As environmental awareness continues to grow, sustainably-minded design is establishing itself as the new norm. Our collective reconnection with nature during 2020 and the green impact of lockdowns have only accelerated this.

Customers now expect packaging to be designed with a no-waste philosophy in mind – minimal or zero plastic plus straightforward recycling instructions.

On a broader scale, we predict that more organic, natural themes will seep into brands’ designs this year: softer, earthier tones and textures, illustrations of natural beauty, and hand-drawn elements for a more authentic, human touch.

Design trends for 2021: natural illustration on a bottle

4. Immersive imagery

Big names such as Apple have been harnessing the power of hyper-tangible, 3D imagery for some time now – and smaller e-commerce brands are following suit. These images aren’t just impressive signals of modernity: they engage the viewer and powerfully impress a product on the memory.

As the line between physical and digital continues to blur and technology advances, we expect to see brands harnessing even more lifelike visuals to advertise their products – on their websites and within their email marketing.

3D image

5. Playfulness

We’re all looking for a little levity right now. Subsequently, we reckon fun, creative flourishes will appear in abundance in 2021 designs.

Clever use of geometric shapes in blocked colours, cartoons, and subtle animations will be used to enliven and complement minimalist designs, directing the reader’s attention to critical points, improving readability, and reducing cognitive legwork.

There may also be a move towards intentionally ‘imperfect’ designs, shaped to convey a brand’s authenticity and a touch of maverick thought.

Design trends for 2021… Watch this space

We hope you enjoyed our thoughts on the top design trends for 2021. Art and design are ever-evolving, so who knows what other trends may arise this year – we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled.