2020. It was a ride, wasn’t it? The year that will forevermore be known as the start of the pandemic.

2020 saw remote work, loungewear and online shopping all dramatically trending upwards while hugging, international travel and ridesharing all took a powerful belly flop. So how has 2020 affected the world of branding and design?

As we wave goodbye to the longest year on record (surely the month of April counted for at least three months on its own, right?) and welcome in a brand spanking new one, let’s take an eye to the near future and explore some of the design trends for 2021.

1. Goodbye neon, hello muted

A few years ago, bright and vivid colours dominated the design world. Brands went crazy for bold colour schemes and, for a while, this was ‘the’ way to capture the eye of their target market. But once bright and bold became commonplace, brands needed to find a new way to stand out. It was the complete saturation of the market that paved the path for the muted, softer colour palette to reign once again.

By blending a colour with either white or black, the variety of colour remains but the sharpness changes. This still allows for the incorporation of many colours within brand designs in 2021, it’s just the brightness that is toned down.


2. So long symmetry

While symmetrical grids have been ruling the roost for some time, there has been a noticeable shift to asymmetry. We predict this design trend will only continue to grow in 2021. Asymmetrical designs are distinctive because they are interesting and create visual tension.

It’s important to note that asymmetry does not mean unbalanced. While more complex, balance is still needed to ensure the design does not become displeasing to the eye. Asymmetry denotes a modern, energetic design. It can be more challenging to achieve since there is greater complexity between the elements.


3. Greetings au naturel

Going hand in hand with the muted colour palette, natural designs are a trend that will continue to rise in 2021. While it has always played a significant role in branding, nature will begin to effect how designs are shaped this year.

We’ll begin to see more natural colours as well as gradients which will portray natural light to give visuals a more layered look. Stock imagery will also be affected with posed imagery becoming more and more unappealing to audiences.


4. Adios flowing, abstract shapes

While the abstract and flowing shapes that come into favour in 2019 are beautiful, they’re not all that easy to replicate. In 2021, it will be geometric shapes that take the design world by storm. Since they are easier to create they allow a brand to establish better consistency across all of their visual content.

Geometric designs also evoke a more retro vibe as well as a feeling of structure and alignment, both of which will be key post 2020.


5. Minimalism, it’s here to stay

Over the past few years we’ve seen a continued inclination towards minimalistic design. And in 2021, this is a design trend that isn’t going anywhere. Online and offline, minimalism can be seen across advertisement boards, websites and social media. White space governs while visual and textual elements are arranged together for ease of viewing.

With mobile marketing continuing to grow exponentially and more customers access brands on smaller screens, minimalistic design will only become more and more important.