Let’s face it. As a small business owner, staying on top of the most cutting-edge graphic design trends might not be at the top of your list of daily priorities. However, making sure your company’s brand identity is still fresh, current — and, at the very least, not outdated — can be critical to your bottom-line, boosting new business opportunities and even sales.
With that in mind, it can be helpful to check in on what’s hot and not in branding design trends, especially in terms of fonts and colors if a new logo, website or business cards are on the horizon for you.
Here are a few of the top color and typography trends we expect to dominate in 2020:
Nostalgia for the 80s, arguably sparked by the popularity of last year’s “Stranger Things” and other retro pop culture phenomenon this year, will continue and expand in 2020. Everyone remembers acid-wash jeans, Cabbage Patch dolls and big hair from that era. But color-wise, the name of the game was neon, and it’s seeing a rise once again. Neon sign-inspired colors don’t necessarily have to be fluorescent and blinding though. They can be bright or deep. It’s all about the outline which creates a luminous effect – whether it’s typography or an image.
Caption: Joystick logo design by bo_rad
Modern, vintage-inspired color palettes
In contrast to the bold and brash 80s hues, even farther back vintage-inspired color palettes will also gain prominence in the year ahead. Blame it on a longing for a simpler time when we didn’t spend hours upon hours staring at our phones.
While vintage in and of itself isn’t a brand new trend, what makes it noteworthy for 2020 is the updated, modern approach — i.e., taking something we know and love, but making it even better. For example, using muted, retro-style colors like mustard and cream, and reimagining them in a fresh setting with minimalist shapes and sans-serif fonts.
Caption: Branding for spirits producer design by designer OtomPotom
“Dark mode” aesthetic
In line with the latest iOS release, you can expect to see widespread adoption of designs using shades of dark grey with color “popping” against a deeper background. These gloomy and edgy color schemes accented with color also echo the aesthetic of current TV shows and movies with dystopian themes that dominate pop culture.
Caption: Bond + Kingsley branding by Ian Douglas
Round, sans serif fonts
With the exception of Facebook’s recent corporate rebrand, most signs point toward businesses embracing clean and rounded sans serif fonts moving into 2020. This friendly looking typeface is showing up in logos for an increasing amount of consumer brands like AirBnB, Google and Spotify. While there is a risk rounded sans serifs can veer toward childish, these brands project simplicity, straightforwardness and approachability.
The Cuppa logo is a perfect example of branding that feels serious while achieving a friendly and approachable vibe. These sans serifs are often paired with a bold and playful color palette and are perfect for a business that wants to generate a feeling of trust and positivity.
Rustic, hand-lettered fonts
Over the last few years, handwritten script fonts have exploded, with thousands of highly customized typefaces becoming available. While the popularity of hand-lettered scripts will likely never fade entirely, we’re beginning to see this level of customization in non-script typefaces.
These new bespoke typefaces are popping up in branding for breweries, farms, bakeries and other traditional industries. For example, while the font in the Gold Country Renovations logo feels familiar, its extra-wide Tuscan serifs make it fresh and authentic, and its line weight feels perfectly tied into the custom illustration of the logo.
While on one hand, bubbly, sans serif fonts are all the rage, we’ve been seeing a marked return to more classical, delicate and refined typefaces as well. These more refined fonts exude warmth and calm, and integrate well with illustration and botanical or nature-inspired designs.
As an entrepreneur, you want any visual assets you create to reflect your brand while still feeling relevant and up to date. Even if you’re stretched for time, consider refreshing your look in 2020 by picking one of these design trends and adapting it to reflect your brand and personality.
Pamela Webber is Chief Operating Officer at 99designs, the global creative platform that makes it easy for designers and clients to work together to create designs they love. Earlier in her career, she served in various corporate strategy and marketing positions with eBay and its subsidiary, PayPal, Inc., True&Co, and other fast growing companies in the consumer Internet space. A resident of San Francisco, Pam received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MBA from Harvard Business School. @pamwebber_sf.