Why brands are going “lean”
Published March 29, 2016 3:08 pm by
Categories: Design and visual trends
By now, you may have noticed the design trend toward which many modern brands are shifting: Flatter, “leaner” graphics have grown immensely in popularity over the last few years. Look at our website for example. Is “flat” just a fad or is there something palpable that can explain this rise to glory?
These minimalistic and flat characteristics have rooted themselves in modern graphic design because they are so dynamic. As a business, to make a connection with your viewers there is a lot you have to consider, and the vernacular of your brand is very important. Many brands even have a particular ring or a scent with which they are associated. However, one of the most important aspects of your brand is how it functions visually. Imagery is a quick and efficient way to communicate a lot without actually saying anything at all. Think of brands that consumers recognize just by seeing the symbol, e.g. Target or Nike. The latest generation of graphics software has eased the process of making designs responsive and scalable so that they can fit various formats across a breadth of dimensions.
This flexibility is essential in giving your brand presence. After all, branding is bonding. By that we mean, the more your brand is seen, the better it is known and the more likely it is shared. Skeuomorphism—which is the digital representation of real-world objects—has phased out over the past decade. Instead of seeing app icons on your phone that look like three-dimensional representations of metal, paper and wood, print design is mimicking the digital space. For example, stationery is often styled to look like the landing page of a website. It is now easier to market yourself in the digital realm than it is in the print realm. Thus, why it is important to favor a design that fits this new frontier.
Since flat design has gained popularity, a common criticism is that it may not be intuitive enough for less experienced users. Flat design, for instance, might not feature common signifiers such as blue underlined hyperlinks or the rounded look of a button. Luckily, Google has developed guidelines for a style that borrows the versatility of flat design but makes up for its lack of intuition. Material design still incorporates bold, graphic and intentional visuals that are creatively executed but still grounded in reality. For example, applying the use of the z-axis as a reference for shadows or adjusting the curves of velocity in an animation to make its appearance flow more natural.
In order to stay current, you will inevitably have to adjust your brand to fit the constantly evolving technology of the digital space. However, when you do, keep in mind that the goal is to be versatile yet recognizable. Don’t sacrifice your brand’s personality, but allow it to move fluidly from one space to another while maintaining consistency.