Connection Restored: Trends to Help Your Brand Reconnect with Customers in 2018

With robots getting citizenship and digital helpers constantly listening to everything you say, it’s easy to feel that the use of tech is starting to overshadow the natural and human elements in life and in commerce – that companies have lost their focus on helping consumers, and are simply having a tech arms war. But now this shift in culture with the use of technology is changing business and marketing trends, too. Companies have learned that to really connect and build trust with consumers, they need more humane and natural elements within their brands and marketing. This is a challenging task to achieve through a screen, but it is possible nonetheless, and some companies have already gotten a head start on it.

So, instead of simply stating what the hottest new trends of 2018 are, let’s discuss how these trends can help you re-humanize your business through graphic design, website development, film & photography, and overall marketing in 2018.

2018 Design Trends


“Back in My Color Overlay”

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… we didn’t have the same attachment to technology we have now. Advertising, design, and marketing had a more direct human touch and handmade feel, something the social creatures inside of us still thrive on and long for. Designers from all industries are taking notice of this, and infusing nostalgic patterns and imagery into design will be key to fill this gap that modern technology is creating.

Don’t believe us? Just take a look around you. Color palettes and fonts from the 70’s have emerged again in prominent international brands like Chobani. The resurgence of 80’s typography and 90’s era patterns will continue to influence unique ads and campaigns across multiple industries. And thanks to the interior design world’s current love of mid-century modern furniture, we expect to see elements of the 50’s make their way into marketing again in the coming year (even without the help of Don Draper). Paying homage to the previous decades through design will be a progressing trend in 2018. Making what’s old new again never goes out of style.

Courtesy of Brand New

“And Now It’s Solid, Solid as a Stock Photo

In the design space, photography choices can make or break a design. Across any medium, bad photography can suck the life out of beautiful layout and typography choices. As the gamut of photography runs, cheesy stock photos can be some of the most harmful – not because stock photography itself is always bad, but because when it is, the images are often missing that essential authenticity that all marketing and branding needs. In 2018, designers will use images of rich candidness, genuine emotion, and natural colors and landscapes. Photos are the pieces of your design that humans directly connect with. They capture the world that people see around them every day, and they bring it to the design and your brand. Genuine emotion, authentic human interaction, and natural beauty will give your designs the boost they need aesthetically. The photos you choose, in your web and print designs, will allow consumers to see real life or even themselves in your brand, rather than a fancy model or unrealistic setup. The distinction between good and bad photography, stock or not, will become clearer in 2018, and those who understand it will succeed as a result.

2018 Website Trends


“Now Serving All-Organic Shapes”

Website design has always had an associated grid structure, due to the nature of coding and the shape of computer screens. That rigid, sharp, and structured layout worked when the technology itself was novel enough to draw attention to the unique features of your brand, but in 2018 that won’t cut it. This year will be marked by a swift shift away from that visual grid structure in web design and development, and it will be softened by more organic shapes. It’ll no longer matter what shape your phone and computer screens are; this coming year, we are moving away from square design (pun intended). Using rounder and softer shapes brings a comforting, human feel to web design. This thinking is built into our nature, and in 2018 it will be reflected more and more in website design and development.


“Movements & Moments”

Let’s try a quick science project: right now, as your reading this sentence, shoot your hands into the air and wave them around. Did others around you react to your movement? As humans we expect that as we move, the world around us reacts. That’s a sign of life. If you want to get someone’s attention, you wave your hands because movement draws their eyes. In 2018 website design, moving elements are more important than ever. A few years ago, hero images and videos became a hot trend. You’d open a webpage, and BAM! – a video would start playing. In 2018 the same concept will be used, but in more of a subtle and creative manner, mostly through elements like dynamic logos, animated gifs, and scroll effects. All of these things create the illusion (or maybe even the reality) of interaction. You move and the world around you reacts accordingly. It’s exciting, it’s eye-catching, it’s memorable, and it’s natural.

2018 Film & Photography Trends


“Don’t Be Afraid to Shoot the Outside Day”

As humans we have an innate connection with nature. It is a part of us, and flows through our very beings. The presence of nature is a tool we use to disconnect and unplug, and it can automatically bring stress relief and inner peace. We have even evolved to get similar benefits from well-designed city landscapes. Taking advantage of natural settings in your photography for your website, packaging, print material, and social media can make it engaging, eye-catching, and something people simply want to look at. I mean, why do you think that Windows XP wallpaper was popular for so long – you know, the one with the rolling green hills and blue sky? Use your photography to make people feel like they are stepping away from their screens for a moment. Also, show that your product and brand can fit into a more “natural” lifestyle by using natural lighting and backdrops, rather than just setting product shots against a white background.


“Once Upon a Nikon”

Storytelling has existed since humans have. It is a part of our nature and the use of it, in any outlet, is key to getting (and most importantly, holding) attention and interest. Storytelling is a step up from narrative, which is simply a series of happenings. “I did this, then this happened, then I did this.” Storytelling goes a bit deeper, in which each of those “happenings” must create progression toward something or somewhere new. Using storytelling, and not just narrative, in your marketing film and photography is key in 2018. With the popularity of Instagram and Snapchat stories, and even Instagram adding the ability to post multiple images in one post, take advantage of the capabilities that are already built in. Make sure you capture much more than just a lifestyle shot, and use your photo planning and film direction to create something with a voice and a purpose.

2018 Marketing Trends


“Responsibly Extroverted”

Technology has been added to business practices to increase the efficiency of humans, but with advancements, it’s getting to the point where it may soon be able to replace humans altogether. For companies to show that they still care about humans – about people, not just profit – active social responsibility is now an essential piece of branding. One of the most important traits among social creatures (e.g. humans, dogs, lions, or any other pack animals) is the ability to sympathize and empathize with each other. It is essential to the survival and cohesion of each group. Understanding this is vital for successful marketing, because connection on an emotional level can help a message (like branding) to stick, not to mention make your company more likeable. That is where social responsibility comes into play. You can capture a customer base and keep them by finding a cause, a voice, and active initiatives that go beyond the baseline expectations. But in 2018, this must go beyond just tweeting; you have to put your money where your mouth is. For a business, spending is what proves you truly care. But one thing to keep in mind is that your social cause has to fit into your business’ capabilities, or it will seems forced and poorly thought out, taking away the branding advantage altogether. So, prove your social responsibility and outward focus by choosing a cause that reflects your brand’s mission.


“Influencer Influenza”

Even with the decline of brick and mortar stores, the idea of a sales associate is still appealing to consumers. Ideally this would be a subject matter expert who can guide you through the buying process and get you what you need, rather than the most expensive thing that will make them the most money. In today’s market, that is likely an influencer. Customers feel that influencers can be trusted more than a company, since it’s their honesty that got them to where they are, so their popularity is spreading like the flu. Unlike a company, influencers honestly demo products, show both the pros and the cons of using it, and do not gain direct financial benefits from the product being sold. They become a trusted face and testimonial for a company, even if it is through a screen. When you see Kylie Jenner wearing her own lipstick, Lebron James playing in his own shoes, or Instagram fitness models using a protein powder for their workouts, you feel confident that although these people’s livelihoods and brands are on the line, they are still eager to use these products. That kind of recommendation cannot be fabricated, and comes with benefits that no commercial can create.

So, what’s next for your company in 2018?

People no longer want to talk to. Answering programs. That speak English. Like this. They want effort from companies that are using technology to make business effortless. Customers want to see that companies still care about them and their needs, and not just the bottom line. For businesses, this can be demonstrated through design and marketing, because these are the tools that we use to communicate with customers. To reiterate words of our fearless CEO: “Marketing in its most basic form is communication.” And in 2018, these trends will be essential to connecting and communicating with your target audience.

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