Marketing, advertising and design continue to evolve at a rapid pace, so while we prepare to put forth our most cutting-edge work in 2019, our team likes to take a moment to digest the top trends we saw dominate 2018, and make our expert predictions on what industry trends will unravel during the new year.

2018 was a year of new brand identities, but simplicity dominated. Designers, developers, marketers, and strategic thinkers alike took the year to test ways to adapt to consumer demands, making 2018 the year of smart and savvy design. These brand refreshes happened because the company listened to their consumers’ take. Remember Uber’s rebrand, ditching the confusing “U” logo for a simple wordmark in white letters against a black backdrop? Or, how about Weight Watchers getting a name change and color palette alteration to be WW, responding to the trend of healthy living, not just weight loss? Dunkin’ Donuts followed their tagline “America runs on Dunkin’” — they now go by solely Dunkin’ to stay relevant for future generations (after all, their coffee drove its largest bucket of sales!). Every brand is looking to stand out. But, sometimes, less is more. In 2018, simplicity got recognition.

Image courtesy of Uber.
Image courtesy of WW.
Image courtesy of Dunkin'.

Branding, design, web development, and marketing are becoming even more tightly intertwined, and each year we see the purpose behind every decision businesses make. We’re on the edge of our seats to see what trends the new year will spark among creators and innovators. As a brand experience agency, we’re placing our bets on what industry trends will dominate 2019. Here are our team’s predictions for 2019.

Cut Through the Clutter

“With all of the clutter in the media over the last two years, the stakes are high. High quality, thoughtful design and messaging is more critical than ever. Compelling design will help organizations cut through the heavy media saturation. Storytelling through design further enhances the emotional connection to an organization, its cause, mission, and core values.”

“My wish for 2019 is that strong, positive stories win.”

Provided by: Debbie Bates-Schrott, CEO/Founder of Bates Creative

An Integrated Marketing Approach

“Now more than ever, marketing teams need to leverage the power of collaboration with other departments. Bringing the best of analytics, technology, content, strategy and creativity together at the table will help to propel brands further. Don’t remain in a siloed environment—break through and encourage synergetic processes with your teams.”

Provided by: Amanda McCarthy, Director of Marketing

White Space

“In recent years, designers have started to go in the direction of complexity and excess in their layouts and illustrations—filling every inch of the page with an organized chaos. However, there has been a resurgence in the belief of less is more. So I predict 2019 will bring with it designs that have a little less brimming and a bit more breathing room.”

Provided by: Jen Fose, Creative Director

Brands That Stand For Something

“Throughout 2018, brands increasingly stood up on issues and causes. While speaking out on political or social issues may risk alienating some audiences, consumers increasingly expect brands to align with their values and will demand clarity when the brand fails to offer it. Patagonia is a great example of a company being true to its brand and taking action to live it out: they have long supported environmental groups. In 2018 the company endorsed political candidates for the first time, a step toward more influence and achieving results. They even changed their mission statement to the powerful and unique ‘We’re in business to save our home planet.’

Other brands, most famously perhaps Nike with their campaign with Colin Kaepernick, are demonstrating how their corporate values and mission are relevant to social and political causes (and seeing the benefits — Nike’s sales were up 31% year-over-year immediately following the ad).”

Image courtesy of Nike.

“As a society, we’re increasingly vocal and active in causes we care about, and we expect brands to align with our values. It increases engagement and connection to the brand, and I’m excited to see the trend continue and progress be achieved.”

Provided by: Alex Blair, Director of Brand Strategy

“It’s simply not enough to just be a brand with cool or quality products anymore. People are using their dollars as an indicator of what they care about most. Our dollars equate casting a vote for what we believe to be good.”

Provided by: Kate Struthers, Account Manager

Eclectic Design

“In 2018, minimalistic modern design gave way to an eclectic and elaborate design trend, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon. Audiences are drawn to mix-matched patterns and quirky color palettes. These elements allow for an unexpected visual experience that gives your design and brands more memorable personality.”

Image courtesy of Design Sponge.
Image courtesy of Apartment Therapy.

Provided by: Cecile Jordan, Art Director

Lovin’ That Long-form Content

“Write, and ye shall be rewarded. Search engines are loving long-form content. We’re talking about those 2,000-words and more blog posts. The ones where you can really dive into the topic and explore the matter with more personality, zest and facts—the blogs that make a subject a story. Keep in mind that not all words are important ones. You need to write through the lens of your target audience. What do they want to read? Does it evoke a sense of belonging through a shared set of interests, goals and aspirations? Write for your audience. Relate to them. This long-form content will score higher in the ranks of SEO and ranks in your readers’ engagement.”

Provided by: Danielle Moore, Content Strategist & Copywriter

Mobile Devices Drive Personalized Experiences

“In 2018, United States adults spend an average of 3 hours 35 minutes on mobile devices. A recent eMarketer study predicts in 2019, time on mobile devices will finally surpass time spent watching TV. Digital Marketers will need to up their efforts to attract consumers on the small screens of smartphones.

Image courtesy of Unsplash photography contributor, Neil Soni.

The two areas I predict to see a shift are in curated content for a user, and more micro-moments. By curated content, I mean, suggested content based on your previous selections (think Netflix’s “Just For You” section) will become widespread in apps and websites in 2019. Secondly, micro-moments are Google defined consumer behavior that quickly delivers marketing messages to you based on what/where you want to go, buy, know, do, eat, etc., which is really just another aspect of personalization. Next year we’ll see more messaging custom to the mobile users’ behavior. Your mobile device will see a Southwest flight to San Diego, it’ll then serve you messaging and ads that show places to eat, based on your past purchases at fish taco joints (your phone knows you love ceviche, too), and where to shop (here’s a place that caters to your love for vintage surf swag).”

Provided by: Ernie Achenbach, Executive Vice President

Eco-friendly Themes

“With the rise in public awareness surrounding the single-use plastics issue, eco-friendly papers, inks, and packaging products, the environment is going to become an even bigger part of our industry. Consumers and clients are more aware of the impact their choices make on our planet which will affect the way design and even how designs are produced.”

Image courtesy of Dieline.

Provided by: Cecile Jordan, Art Director

“Exciting” is No Longer Exciting

“Please stop saying ‘I’m excited to…’ We both know that saying ‘exciting’ is the kiss of death for engaging content. Let’s get more creative and switch up how we say things. C’mon people!”

Provided by: Danielle Moore, Content Strategist & Copywriter

Functionality Leading Web Design

“Website design has historically focused on aesthetics, while almost incidentally supporting function. That way of doing things is shifting and in 2019, we’ll see function lead, with gorgeous design built around the functionality to create an exceptional user experience. This shift in priorities will move the whole web experience forward.”

Image courtesy of Unsplash photography contributor, Taras Shypka.

Provided by: Ashe Abbott, Senior Web Designer & Developer

Forecasting What Consumers Need, Before They Know They Need It

“Brands must be so much more. On top of having a killer product and excellent customer service brands must stand for something, they must make the customer’s life easier and must move faster than ever before. Right now, is no longer good enough, we need to be predicting what the customer needs and getting their goods and services to them before they need it.

When marketing we must stop thinking laterally and start thinking with a 360′ view on the customer experience. One touch point is no longer enough, customers are longing for an immersive experience when it comes to a brand and investing their well-earned money.”

Provided by: Kate Struthers, Account Manager

Think there’s an industry trend on the rise we haven’t touched on? Tweet us your thoughts @batescreates.