Our Five Favourite Design Trends for 2024

In 2023, the design world witnessed the seismic impact of ‘Barbie’ leading a pop culture phenomenon, the tumultuous integration of AI, and a surge of short-form content. 

While we don’t believe in following trends blindly – every design brief is unique and needs to be considered and responded to as such – there are always factors shaping the design landscape that brands inhabit. So, the WPR team has peered into the future to share our insights on five key trends that we think will be influencing design in 2024.

1. Is IT TIME TO JOIN THE DARK SIDE?

That’s right, ‘dark mode’, often used on websites and apps to reduce eye strain and cut glare, can have a sustainable impact on our planet. Devices displaying darker colours use less electricity, so designing with dark mode in mind can help bolster our sustainability efforts. We may see some brands opting for more minimalistic colour palettes, as an antithesis to the bright and vibrant ‘Barbie’ boom of 2023, by embracing ‘dark mode’ on the screen and utilising white space in printed media.

2. bUT i’M (sTILL) a bARBIE giRL

That said, it’s unlikely we’ll be bidding a final farewell to Barbiecore just yet. The ad industry launched a spectrum of colourful campaigns around the 2023 release of the Barbie movie, from Burger King’s pink burger to Warner Bros.’ selfie generator and Airbnb’s Barbie’s Malibu Dreamhouse. This, in turn, generated a resurgence of vibrant colour palettes and playful aesthetics. The inspiration from Barbie’s visually distinctive world, infusing vibrant colour schemes and incorporating inclusive elements into designs, may well prove to have some longevity.

3. fRANKENSTEIN tYPOGRAPHY

No, we’re not talking about monstrously green fonts that have been injected with electricity. We’re talking about adopting a custom font for headlines. It involves taking a pre-existing font and editing it using subtle features from the brand identity to give it that personal touch. It’s an extra element that has real impact and shows true attention to detail. In a visually cluttered world, it also adds one-of-a-kind distinctiveness and discourages copying (it doesn’t make sense in isolation, so anyone wanting to copy it would have to take your whole brand guidelines too). And here lies the trade-off. As if curating a custom typeface isn’t enough of a challenge, it also needs reflecting and updating across everything associated with your brand. So, this is a trend we’re most likely to see for new or bigger brands looking to invest in their image.

4. aRTIFICIAL iNTELLIGENCE

So far, AI has been a designer’s trusted ally, assisting with smaller, lower priority tasks efficiently – things like photo corrections and expanding images – and freeing up the designer to focus on the creative. But sending an AI tool a full design brief and expecting to receive client-ready work is not a reality. In fact, I don’t think it ever will be. The AI tools currently available can’t consider or understand the numerous variables that are unique to every brand – such as brand guidelines, art and photography – in a way that translates to fully realised concepts and output.

In 2024, I think we’ll see an attempt to address these constraints within AI tools, with a longer-term vision to train the AI for specific design tasks. We can also expect to see increased accuracy for generative images as AI tools are exposed to more media and learn what is (and isn’t) realistic.

5. mAGIC iN mOTION

Motion design in advertising remains indispensable, offering techniques that allow brands to captivate audiences in an oversaturated digital landscape. With the rise of platforms like TikTok, the need to grab attention faster – catering to ever shortening attention spans – is a trend that shows no sign of reversing. Introducing motion, for example logo animation, into your brand library can enhance visual appeal for greater audience engagement. The integration of motion into social media advertising has become a necessity for brands aiming to stay ahead.

As 2024 unfolds, we anticipate an exciting blend of sustainably minded design, vibrant hues, captivating motion, and a growing awareness of AI’s potential and limitations. We’ll eagerly await the trends, campaigns, and social media phenomena that shape this new year.

The authors: George Moss, design director, Jessica Hughes, design and creative content executive, and Krisztián Székely, graphic designer. If you’d like to find out more about how WPR can help with all your design requirements, drop us a note at info@wpragency.co.uk or read more here.

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