Here we are swooping in to save you from a mistake that can cost a lot when it comes to designing a brand Inevitably. Do not develop the brand's entire identity on a trend. This is a move that will have you investing money to rebrand as soon as the trend is over. Do it again, and the cycle repeats (unless your product is a trend). The trick here would be to create a timeless design. Yet again we say, there is more that goes into it, and we believe to attain timelessness, you must strike the perfect balance with trends. After all, no one stays relevant without following the waves of culture! Not clear yet?
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
There are three concepts here that we need to clarify: timelessness, trends, and fads. Understanding these major players will be a good base before designing a brand that not only stands out but also is recognizable and still relevant in years to come. (It’s okay to have a brand that evolves)
Fads & Trends.
Fads are not to be confused with trends! Trends usually last longer than fads; they can go on for 5 to 10 years and are often associated with a certain decade. On the other hand, a fad is like a quick trend that pops up all of a sudden, gets super popular, and then disappears just as fast. Fads are usually flashy and attention-grabbing, and lots of people get into them because they're cool and exciting. But here's the thing: they don't stick around for long. They're here today, gone tomorrow. Trends are cyclical and will eventually come around, but a fad is that one intense thing that everyone was doing for a while and now cringes you to your core when you think about it (Anyone else questions their life choices when they look at their collection of planking pictures or their Harlem shake video?). You just know the lesson was learned and it will never come back. If you want to spot them easily, fads never please everyone, they are either loved or hated.
This is why following fads is not an option for designing a brand's identity! It will not only completely disappear as soon as you finish designing it but also leave an aftertaste of trauma and terror to everyone looking at it. They will run (and not towards it). Trends, on the other hand, can be more stable; you know the brand will be safe for a while and eventually come back around in 20 years or so, but unfortunately, chances are it will just look like what everyone else is doing. It would be difficult to stand out in a market that is completely overflowing with the same color palette and overall aesthetic. The first person to jump on a trend for sure got the maximum out of it, probably gaining popularity and loyalty that would be hard to compete with if you arrive late to the game. If a brand launches and follows a trend where there are already a dozen others with a really similar identity, it will appear unoriginal, and a saturated market means it's time to move on to the next trend. That’s how you can tell a trend is about to end, when it went into everything and got so mainstream that people are tired of it.
Of course, there are always exceptions! The most important thing to know is, what a brand is about and what it wants to communicate. Sometimes a fad movement will be the perfect choice to base a brand identity on because it just *fits.* Authenticity remains the most important thing to take into consideration when it comes to creating a brand identity.
Timeless, on the other hand, is like that classic black dress. It's the kind of design that ages gracefully and isn't specifically linked to a certain period in time. The way to recognize timeless or classic design is that it keeps things simple. It avoids unnecessary decorations or wild patterns. Clean lines, straightforward shapes, and neutral colors are the keys. Although they age well and appeal to most customers, they might not suit every brand's personality. If a brand targets teenage girls, a classic design won’t do it, while a fad might be a great idea in this context. Luxury fashion brands lean on timeless design for their brand identity because, just like their identity, they strive to create clothes that never go out of style and steer clear of trends. Plus, timeless just shows that a brand is reliable and of good taste.
The real timeless and finding balance.
The truth, though, is that even timeless design can become outdated. Yes, the black dress is a staple, but the shape of the black dress has been reviewed, tweaked, and adjusted over time to stay modern. There is no way that a brand can be memorable and truly timeless when it doesn’t even fit in its own time period. After all, we are all attached to context! To successfully be timeless, it’s actually about being able to belong to all periods rather than none. If you want a real concrete example of this put in action, go take a look at our post about Gucci’s rebranding. You want people to look back and know the brand was relevant at every point. The way to do so is to strike a perfect balance between timeless elements that ensure your brand ages gracefully, and trends and fads to follow the movement and be part of what is going on in every era. Timeless doesn’t mean traditional or refusing to change. Sticking to classic design will make it look that way and it is not a winner for the target audience. A brand that looks old will leave the target audience questioning what else is outdated.
To find that balance and ensure that a brand can be memorable and current while aiming for the long run is to know where to play within the brand identity. First, design the main elements of the brand identity, those that are not movable, on a timeless model. The logo, fonts and typography need to be clean and simple. This will ensure that the brand won't need to be rebranded every couple of years, and that only minor adjustments will be easy to do when the need for it arises. Then, where the brand should play around is in marketing campaigns based on the brand identity and indulge in trends in fads through the patterns, illustrations, and imagery it presents! The brand is not as attached to these as much as it is to its main components, so it is safe to reinvent them as much as wanted, as long as they still match the overall brand identity. This way, the brand will be able to be part of its time while always shifting and adapting to the next era. This is how a brand remains timeless. When done well, the brand will outlast you and be known for its ability to adapt, grow, and progress with the world.
When it comes to brand identity, the most important thing to remember is authenticity. You are free to reject everything that was said in here if your gut feeling is telling you that a specific trend aligns the most with a brand! Don’t fall into the trap of choosing an aesthetic that you think will be popular or last forever without considering if it truly matches the brand's personality. Yet, we hope that you got a bit more clarity in the world of trends, fads and timeless design from this post!
If you need help or have any questions, our door is open! Brand identity is what we do!