“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are.”
- Gianni Versace
Anybody else noticing blue to pink gradients everywhere? I think it’s the culmination of what Jony Ive started with the widely disliked iOS design update from 2013.
This particular trend finally went off the deep end for me with the John Wick 2 poster. A fine piece of work, other than riding the most current and oft-repeated design trend with its use of superfluous gradients.
And before that? Everyone was, and still is to an extent, biting off of the excellent design work for the “True Detective” opening credit sequence done by Elastic and Creative Director Patrick Clair.
So what’s the big deal? Elastic came up with a great visual and every designer and their brother loves the gradient tool in Sketch, so why not follow the trend?
If you’re designing something with a limited shelf life, like a movie poster, the impact of following a trend probably won’t make a difference.
But for branding work? No bueno. The look of a design trend is immediately recognizable a few years down the road and becomes identifiable as older, dated, or even irrelevant. That’s fine for a short lived campaign, but not a brand.
The word timeless gets overused in branding work. The Pyramids of Giza are timeless. The Great Wall of China is timeless. Your branding is probably not.
But what it can be is enduring. In other words, it can survive and remain fresh, pertinent and strong for decades.
If you’re a business owner and you’ve never heard of Paul Rand, take a few minutes and look him up. More than likely, you’ll recognize a few of the marks he produced. And he died over twenty years ago. Most of his well known work was created well before then.
Designers may be groaning, as Rand’s name is brought up as the standard pillar of logo design ad nauseum. And fair enough, but his ideas are timeless.
“Good design doesn’t date. Bad design does.”, he said. And I couldn’t agree more.
If you’re thinking about branding, here’s a few ideas to keep in mind:
Don’t be afraid to be simple and direct. Avoid ornamentation.
If your branding looks like everything else… it will look like everything else.
Classical forms and proportions have endured for a reason.
I’m sure other designers have their opinions on this topic and we’d love to hear them.