Lets get something straight, trends will be around forever - and when the world is run by computers, when apes take over the world and when cockroaches roam the streets, even they’ll have trends. It is natural for humans to follow trends. Trends are exciting, they’re new and fresh - gravitating to the next “thing” is so natural most people don’t even notice they’re doing it. Shit, I’ve got multiple dudes that I’m a fan of that I think “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could rock that outfit like him?” So, how do trends apply to design you ask? Well, it’s just the same as fashion - someone will start using grain in their work, bright colours and shapes and us as designers think “Yeah that's it!” I’ma stay relevant and do the same - but how do we do so without being a clone of the times?
The way to simplify this is by acknowledging what branding and design is to its core. People come to us because we have the key to a door lots of people wanna go through. Behind that door is their brand and its dressed to the fucking nines - looking slammin and making them a confident brand owner. Sometimes, before they walk through this magical door, they’ll ask you “Can you make my ass as big as Kim Kardashian’s?” Yes, that we can, but if you’re five foot tall and you have that kind of ass, you’re about to have some back problems. See where I’m going with this? Trends only work if they’re applied in moderation and most importantly - if they relate in ANY way to your clients brand objective/point of difference.
If you’ve got a receding hairline and you wanna look like Jason Momoa - ma man, you’re outta luck. You can’t rock that. If a client comes to you with an “idea” (a trend) and it doesn’t suit what their brand is all about, its your job to do one of two things -
1. Suss the situation and see if you can respectfully tell your client that their idea blows and it just won’t work for them. Example: Receding hairline? You’re a baker with an Italian heritage? Your father has owned the business for 35 years? Baking bread was his life's work and passion? - and you wanna blow your inherited brand by having a coffee on the front of your logo? Sorry, not for you. If you can find a polite way to say no, right on.
2. You can also say “sure, I see where you’re going with this” (really in your head you’re saying “what a terrible idea, god please shoot me now but don’t because I need the money”) and figure out a way to “sprinkle” (sparingly) a bit of the trend they want on the design. You see, its all in the presentation, so if you can sell it and explain (again, I can’t emphasise this enough, RESPECTFULLY) why this idea works better rather then “full blast trendy,” then you’ve also completed the job successfully.
There are just about a billion details in between these steps that also play a part. For example, you might have a client come to you who completely trusts your judgement because you’ve spent hours and hours completing hundreds of projects in your life and working with them is a great pleasure. You can also get a client who has an amazing idea for a brand but he/she has such a bad attitude and doesn’t trust you at all - and all they want is to follow a trend. You can get ones that fully agree with you 100% the whole way too and months later, they completely change their whole identity. Bottom line is, there are thousands upon thousands of variables to this game and experience is only acquired through experience.
To summarise, trends are your friend but they aren’t your best bud. Nobody on this entire planet earth is fully original and rather - the greats use their influences to inspire them to create greatness. So in other words, don’t be too afraid of trends and definitely utilise them in your work - remember, people are watching and your main objective is to get hired as trends run our industry. Use them sparingly tho and don’t let them dictate what your legacy will be as a designer. Find the right balance that works for you and that compliments your style.
Remember - you’re only as good as your last job - so stay updated but ALWAYS be YOU and not who others want you to be.
Words - John Bresciani
Instagram - @judyispunkco
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