Should You Follow Design Trends When Branding Your Small Business?

image via William Hansen-Creative Market

The short answer – Probably not. If you do, you run the risk of getting lost in the crowd.

But that answer is not helpful, is it?! In this article I want to help you learn how to gain inspiration from the design trends that appeal to you, and use that inspiration to make your brand stand out.

Let’s jump right in! Here’s a quick, 5-step exercise you can use to let a design trend guide the design of your own branding. I’ll jump in with an example of how I might complete this exercise to give you more clarity.

Why does the trend appeal to you?

Try to put it into words and jot it down.

A trend I like: Product photography styled with nature shadows.

Why does it appeal to me? It makes the brand look natural and outdoorsy, but still elegant.

Are the things you wrote down important to your brand?

My answer: Maybe… but other things are more important.

What is important to your brand?

Write down 3-5 things you want people to feel or understand about you when they interact with your brand.

My answer: approachable, simple, fun, carefree, down to earth

Keep those things in mind when you’re designing / working with a designer.

Keep coming back to the question, “Does this design make my brand feel _____?” (insert your words from #3 in the blank)

Does this make my brand feel… approachable? simple? fun? carefree? down to earth?

Use design elements to get these feelings across.

  • What colors feel the most _____?

  • What typefaces feel the most _____?

  • What shapes feel the most _____?

  • What line quality feels the most _____?

  • What textures feel the most _____?

What colors feel the most approachable, simple, fun, carefree, and down to earth?

→ warm tones (reds, pinks, golds)

What typefaces feel the most approachable, simple, fun, carefree, and down to earth?

→ sans serif / hand-rendered

What shapes feel the most approachable, simple, fun, carefree, and down to earth?

→ rounded / imperfect

What line quality feels the most approachable, simple, fun, carefree, and down to earth?

→ thicker lines / marks that are “sure of themselves”

What textures feel the most approachable, simple, fun, carefree, and down to earth?

→ a little rough around the edges

When someone sees a style they’ve seen a million times, the emotion is gone.

They probably felt the emotional connection the first time they saw the style, but now they’re unphased because it’s been overdone.

It’s like when you watch a really emotional movie, for the 18th time. You’re probably not going to be as affected by it as you were the first time.

That’s what you’re after with your branding – you want to conjure up an emotion in someone so that they connect with your brand and with your message.

And, truly, this isn’t so hard to do if you stick to your values and your ‘why’ for the brand.

Why did you start this business?

How do you want to affect people with it?

That is the driving force behind your brand.

Once you figure that out and flesh it out with the steps above, whether you are the designer you’re working with a designer, your brand will have a much sturdier base to stand on than brands based off of design trends.

Maddy Beard

As co-founder of Golden Creative, I help small business owners reach their goals through thoughtful branding and intentional marketing. I’m passionate about all things design and believe in empowering people through learning, so that no entrepreneur feels held back by a lack of knowledge… because we’ve all been there!

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