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10 New Normal Design Trends To Expect As The World Opens Up

design trends 2021

Businesses are entering the post-COVID 19 phase as more and more people are getting vaccinated. In fact, a majority of small business owners feel that the worst of the pandemic has passed, according to a Q2 2021 survey by the US Chamber of Commerce and Metlife. This gives us the impetus to stay on top of 2021 design trends to make sure we’re not lagging behind.

So as you start to open up your business, how can you show new and returning customers that you’re in lockstep with post-pandemic sensibilities? In this article, we’ll talk about graphic design trends 2021 in a post-COVID 19 world.

1. Design that’s playful and optimistic

As people shake off lockdown fatigue, they’ll be drawn to bold design that speaks to their yearning to be free. This means colors and graphics that may not necessarily follow convention but click once noticed.

Expect the use of kinetic animation to offset the lethargy that characterized quarantine. Sterile sans serif belongs in a pre-pandemic world. Post-pandemic, customers want to see dynamic typography that emanates life and wit.

This optimism also takes the form of retrofuturism, with designers harking back to a time decades before COVID-19 to express the longing for returning to normal. 3D plays a huge role in this as well—a rejection of the coldness and flatness that characterized design immediately before the pandemic.

2. Design that respects personal space

Lockdown normalized a clear boundary between our digital and personal lives. The move to working from home and having all our interactions through the internet necessitated that online interactions follow real-life etiquette—that means you can’t demand someone’s attention and expect an immediate response.

This attitude is reflected in design that provides a thoughtful style that allows customers to understand what your business is about and why they want to patronize it. For design trends 2021, customers can take their time in making a decision. Neutral colors take the stage, complemented by typefaces that suggest contemplation.

3. Design that balances the natural and the digital

The increase in online social interaction was complemented by an increase in soul-searching and introspection. People got in touch with their humanity by reading books, birding, and going on hikes, as their lives became increasingly virtual.

Expect this relationship and the transition between digital and analog to be represented in 2021 design trends as well. Loud neons and cool tones can be juxtaposed against (preferably hand-drawn) textures such as wood grain, leaf patterns, and brush strokes to show the contrast and unity between synthetic and organic, connecting the creator with the viewer.

4. Design that emphasizes connection and community

With the disruption of traditional life, people worldwide have sought to redefine community. From people offering to include the needs of neighbors in their supermarket runs to community-based volunteer programs, much of society has come together in this crisis.

2021 design trends post-COVID 19 include graphics that emphasize the role of people in the success of a business. Designs that show support for local issues have also become popular. Welcoming graphics and friendly typefaces show customers that businesses know and are aligned with their communities.

5. Design that includes, not excludes

The pandemic brought intersectional inequalities to the forefront, with the least privileged affected most of all, ranging from unemployment to a lack of public health.

Graphic design trends 2021 mirror these realities. Businesses are increasingly including people of color and people living with disabilities in their marketing campaigns, with special consideration for their needs. The use of graphics that are easily viewable by people with color blindness and other visual impairments is also representative of these changes.

6. Design that is pro-social and collaborative

Belt-tightening during COVID has played a role in people reevaluating their responsibilities as consumers. They are now more mindful of where their dollar goes and the companies to which they contribute.

Graphic design has started underscoring the social responsibility of the businesses it represents. Apart from selling a product or service, materials now highlight how the business is giving back to society or the community. These strategies show customers that a business shares the increasingly collective mindset of a post-pandemic world. Declarations of advocacies are in bold type, demonstrating their importance to you.

7. Design that is local and homey

Travel restrictions during COVID fractured the concept of a macro society, creating neighborhood-sized bubbles throughout the world. People became more attuned to problems and issues in their own backyards and set up aid organizations in response.

Brands are reacting to this change by focusing on out-of-home strategies. Flyers are the most effective way to reach people out and about. Public transportation has been slow to recover, and pedestrian systems are being prioritized during opening up. The naturally small scope and easy proliferation of flyers make them ideal for out-of-home marketing. Eye-catching colors and types ensure that people will stop and see your design.

8. Design that promotes environmental responsibility and sustainability

The roots of COVID-19 are from humanity encroaching upon natural habitats. The lesson of our impact on the environment was continually reinforced during lockdown (e.g. fewer cars, less air travel). To adhere to social distancing restrictions, people also went for outdoor recreation.

Design is capitalizing on this sentiment by the use of color palettes that evoke the environment, along with naturalistic art styles that recall the simple pleasure of being outdoors. Businesses are also giving their sustainability efforts a place of prominence in their advertising.

9. Design that is sincere and authentic

An atmosphere of cynicism and distrust characterized the lockdown period. Misinformation and disinformation reigned and trust in institutions eroded.

With the increased hope of the new normal, design trends 2021 are leaning toward truth and reality. Customers want brands that they can relate to. Design is catering to this desire by avoiding glibness and obfuscation, using raw graphics to showcase real problems in the post-COVID world. Design trends use grounded, reassuring serif typefaces and complement advertising with life-affirming messaging to resonate with audiences.

10. Design that is imperfect

The proliferation of working from home—and the comfort of getting things done in sweatpants—made people acutely aware of the artifice of perfection. With productivity quickly reverting back to pre-pandemic levels in many industries after a brief remote work transition, it became clear that how people present themselves is not as important as the work they do.

Imperfection in design includes typefaces that are ugly on purpose, also showcasing a playfulness that is emblematic of new-normal optimism. The rigid grid that dictated past graphics has been ditched for organic, asymmetrical shapes that also push back against the restrictions of lockdown.

As you open your business back up, internalize the lessons learned during the pandemic when making design in the new normal. Optimism, determination, and social awareness are all valued by consumers post-COVID 19, and using these design trends shows your connection to the people you hope to reach.

And if you ever need help in executing design fit for the new normal, contact us and members of our team will brainstorm with you within 24 hours.

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