Design Trends of 2021


Design Trends of 2021

march 02, 2021

Design Trends of 2021

march 02, 2021

Identity Design Trends for 2021: 

Developing the identity design for a brand involves putting together a system using 5 things - a wordmark, a symbol, a colour palette, a typekit and brand messaging. All of this is put into a brand manual at the end and handed over to the client. 

Let's look at design trends for 2021, and look at each of these items individually. 

  1. Wordmark 

A wordmark is the lettering that is in use in your logo. For example, in Coca Cola, there is no symbol, and the letters themselves form the logo. This is its wordmark. I have found that over the last few years there has been a rise in popularity in display typefaces using serif fonts. Individual foundries such as Violaine and Jeremy’s VJ Type in Paris are creating exquisite typefaces that have the grammar of serif fonts, and the glamour of the 1920s. We recently used one of their fonts to design a wordmark for Engram - a young hardware design shop based in Kolkata. 

There is definitely a move away from using script and handwritten typefaces. While it is tempting to use these fonts as they have a lot going on, it's best to let this trend die with the last decade. Humanist sans serif such as the Helveticas retain their position as evergreen digitally reliable fonts. Look up fonts by pangram foundry to see some interesting new fonts in the space. 

  1. Symbol 

The world is moving away from the symbol - wordmark - tagline stack. 

As more brands get more digital, there is a need to remove the clutter. While some brands such as mastercard and nike chose to drop their wordmarks, some brands are choosing to not have a symbol at all. In choice of symbol, more people opt for monograms, which is a combination of letters. Here is a monogram we developed for Tarun Tahiliani which has 2 Ts joined together. This also makes a pi, a symbol Mr. Tahiliani resonates with. 

  1. Colour palette

I read a meme that says “graphic design is basically moving from solids one year to gradients another year and then coming back to solids''. There is no logic in predicting solids vs gradients or pastels vs pop. This is an individual and strategic choice in design. Rather, what I would advise is that colours be picked in a way that they can be implemented sustainably. For example, for tea and coffee packaging, there is a company called swisspack that sells a biodegradable stand up pouch. In order to print these in numbers below 1000 packs (which is a usual print run requirement) it must use under 3 colours, and the artwork should be towards the center of the pack so that it can be screen printed on a pre-built pack. On the other hand, for clients who don’t want to commit to a super large packaging inventory, digitally printed stickers are a good choice. There are certain colour choices here that render well and certain that don't. For example, orange almost never translates as you picture it. So beyond trends, colours should be decided on the basis of the most sustainable and practical way to produce a design. In my opinion - the world doesn't veer towards one colour one year, and towards another in the next year. Besides, in identity design, we are trying to build things that last beyond a year. 

In the image: We digitally printed labels for Luxmi tea, using shades of green. 

  1. Typekit 

This is a set of fonts that you would advise your clients to use for their brand for their communication. It consists of header fonts, subhead and body fonts. This would typically be used in posters, brochures and websites. It should complement the choice of lettering for the wordmark.

During the lockdown many home entrepreneurs in bangalore started selling pastas and bakery goods - these were people who lost their jobs, or people who just needed some extra income. They found that they liked it, and prefer it to their other jobs, opting to become entrepreneurs. As starting a business gets easier with tools such as shopify and razorpay, and discovery is possible through social media, there are many home grown that will come to design studios. The purpose of the typekit you offer such businesses should be ease of use. Keep it simple by using one typeface with varying widths for header, body etc. Google has a large offering of fantastic free fonts such as montserrat which is our go to typeface for a typekit. By using just one family of fonts which is free, we make it easier for our clients to not make mistakes. In terms of layouts - the bauhaus poster design trend is as evergreen as it was in the last century, and is now extended to websites as well. Keeping it simple, organised and working within a grid is a recipe for success in graphic design. 

Image: this entire layout for Luxmi Tea’s website was made using varying sizes of Adobe Garamond Pro. 

  1. Messaging:

Messaging is the language style that brands should talk to their consumers in. A trend I think we should put behind us - is telling our customers our vision and mission. Nobody wants to read this, it is a snoozefest. While these are good things to include in the brand manual, it is only meant for internal consumption. 

What happened to the wit, intelligence and humour we saw in the ads of the 70s? Creativity is not just visual, it is also in clever words, and the studios that can nail this, will have an edge over the others. 

The days of hiding behind jargon are also behind us. Words such as - minimalist, contemporary, juxtapose, ethos and sensibility. It's time these words died a slow pretentious death.

If I were to apply this example to my industry - I address every graphic design studio that starts their website with “We are a multidisciplinary design studio”. Isn't this redundant? Isn’t Design a multidisciplinary field? Can you get by with just knowing how to do 1 thing? People would probably be more convinced if studios wrote “We are 2 people working out of our basement in pajamas doing kickass stuff”. 

What I think will sell in 2021 is clarity, intelligence, honesty, wit and brevity. No nonsense messaging which piques their interest or entertains them, or you’ve lost them at hello. 


The author Pallavi Nopany runs a brand design studio in Bangalore India.