The Problem with Trendy Design

The Problem with Trendy Design

Ah… remember the 90s?

When everything was better in plaid flannel, “No soup for you!” was a hilarious catchphrase, Dr. Martens were EVERYWHERE and everyone (who was anyone!) had a “Rachel” haircut?

Well, I didn’t only because I am more of an “Angela Chase” from “My So-Called Life” type rather than a “Rachel Green” from “Friends” type.

What am I getting at here? Certainly not the uber-dreamy Jordan Catalano.

(Although I think we can all agree that I should start a blog series dedicated to one Jared Leto.)

I’m talking about fads.

They’re everywhere, and nothing is immune, including the lovely land of design.

For example, here in Portland, you can find a pair of antlers and/or fox illustrations on EVERYTHING from Photographer logos to restaurants signage, and it makes me… well? Cringe. Why? Because those design pieces are rockin’ the curse of The Trendys™.

Here’s the thing:

You know you’re ready for a rebrand, but when you wrap your entire business identity around a fleeting trend with nothing substantial or conceptual to back it up, you’re essentially saying your brand is nothing more than an empty, shallow aesthetic. And your customers can see through that shiz. Furthermore, because of that, it will become out-of-date next year when the hot new trend is, I dunno, doilies, and platypuses.

Now, if a Photographer only photographed foxes, then great! Keep the fox illustration on the logo! It makes sense! Or, if that restaurant only served deer or fox meat? Sure! Keep those elements! But not-so-shockingly, that’s rarely the case.

And yes, Portland is weird, but I don’t think fox meat will become in fashion any time soon.

Let’s reel it in here, and talk specifics with a real-life logo I recently designed for an upcoming, super cool e-course called The Canning Academy®:

  • Firstly, the concept we’ve got with this logo is focusing on the “Academy” and school-like aspect of “Canning Academy.”  The term “Academy” conjures up design elements and imagery like circular “seals of approval”, “badges”, “banners” and other “collegiate” elements. Bonus? This approach has been tweaked enough to also look like a canning lid, sealing the concept (<— pun intended!) into place and making it have a purpose, a point, and a sense of memorability with the Viewer’s mind.
  • Secondly, since the act of canning has been going on forever, a great way to visually represent the passage of time is with retro-inspired fonts and a grunge, distressed, stamp-like texture. Those textures also have a hand-made quality to them too, perfect for the homemade canning concept.

The designs that stand the test of time are designs that have a concept, or a thought-process behind it, and as a Designer, I always shoot for this kind of timeless approach because who wants to re-do their materials every 3 years? And what does that do for the long-term memorability of your brand?

Those that work with me know that I have a detailed thought-process behind every design because I believe beauty is a byproduct of intelligence.

Also, I’m a liiiiiiiiiiiiittle Type-A and obsess over the details, but hey. That’s why people hire me.

Natalie McGuire

Hi, I'm Natalie McGuire!

I'm a website designer + digital strategist who believes in design with strategic ease. Meaning, gorgeous design is informed by customer insights that make your business a whole lot easier. If you want to stop losing customers by having "just another pretty website," work with me.

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Natalie McGuire Designs stands against inequality, injustice, hate, discrimination, and systemic racism, and is deeply committed to investing in diversity and inclusion, and standing up for what is just, inclusive, loving & equitable.