Watercooler: Graphic Design Trends for 2020 Reveal What’s Hot For Branding


Promotional products distributors know that brands trying to make a splash in crowded marketplaces must be armed with a memorable logo, comprehensive website and sharp collateral that’s on-brand and reflective of what the company does and represents. To identify the trends in graphic design for small businesses, specifically for logos, web branding and package design, 99designs—a Melbourne, Australia-based company that maintains a creative platform to connect graphic designs with clients—reviewed thousands of design projects and partnered with an international community of graphic designers to identify the top trends in small-business branding in 2020.

To inspire distributors who are helping clients refresh their logo or branding colors, the following list includes the top 10 trends for 2020.

1. Cyberpunk. A little offbeat and daring, the term “cyberpunk” refers to a genre of science fiction about oppressive cultures that exist within a society overtaken by technology and big companies. Think We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. For the color palette, think glowing, oversaturated and neon shades with a sci-fi element, like medium spring green, deep sky blue, fuchsia and orchid.

2. Street art-esque. Designers are looking to the free-flowing creativity of graffiti and street art, referring to styles from the ’70s—the punk era when graffiti first emerged in NYC’s subways—the ’80s, which saw an explosion of street-based artists, like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and the ’90s grunge, when the mysterious Banksy first surfaced.

3. Shapes and fine lines. Anticipate abstract, imaginative, geometric figures with otherworldly graphics and textures resembling smoke and other illusion-like effects.

4. Cut-out collages. Collages made to resemble papercut-outs, complete with uneven edges and scribbled text, will add even more texture to graphics.

5. Quirky hand-lettering. Oversized type, a current trend that will continue, features typography that is more realistic, peculiar, flamboyant and packed with personality.

6. Dystopian-inspired. Think George Orwell’s 1984, with cold colors, like slate, Aegean, peacock and spruce, with mechanical-like lettering and glitch art to add the impression of digital error or distortion.

7. Extreme pastiche. Pastiche celebrates works of art by mirroring the styles of one or more artists. Expect to see styles, like medieval and art deco, paired with modern elements for a collaborative finish.

8. Animation. The use of ongoing, captivating animation segments with clean transitions remains a constant.

9. Bevels and chisels. Carvings or shapes with color gradients made to look 3D and almost realistic enough to touch.

10. Real-time data visualization. Designs will experiment with new ways to present live data and feeds, including the use of neon colors, obscure shapes and lively stimulations.

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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