Trends vs. Brand Values in Marketing Design

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Marketing Design Trends vs. Lasting Brand Values


Should You Follow Trends Or Your Brand’s Key Values?

November 9, 2021
7 minutes


For a business, it is very hard to stay relevant in marketing, yet stay true to the values and manage a strong brand. Trends come and go, and sometimes it’s hard to decide whether it is smart to stray from the marketing strategy a little and follow them.

Brand management is a tricky process when the interests of your target audience start to differ a lot from your values and identity. And creating marketing assets regularly to promote your products and services, while at the same time trying to achieve long-term goals, can confuse a marketing team over what to prioritize.

Once you create a brand with its own values and identity, the marketing design has to embellish and nurture that brand. And when trends arise that are the polar opposite of your company’s characteristics and spirit, what should you do?

Here are some reasons why you should (not) follow trends, and on which occasions it could be effective to do so.

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Short term trends aren’t always worth following

A trend can mean the way something is developing or the direction it’s heading towards. But it can also mean a mad, fashion or craze. And in design and marketing, trends are exactly that: a short-lived hype that is quickly and easily forgotten.

Taking in mind how quickly and in what great numbers the content online changes today, it is not a surprise that something that is “trending” today can already be a forgotten trend tomorrow. Memes, memorable quotes and significant events mean nothing when taken out of context and after the hype train has passed.

So, when you’re considering whether to follow a trend in marketing design or even the content of your next marketing campaign, think about these two things:

  • Is it the right time?
  • Is it in line with my company branding strategy?

Here is an example of a brand-focused marketing example that is still very aligned with the industry of the company.

Seeing that this card is mimicking the symbols from the hit Netflix Korean drama “Squid Game”, which is a story about impoverished and indebted people playing a game of life or death to win money, it makes sense for an app that “gets rid of your debt” to market this way.

But, if these cards were to be printed out by a company in a different industry, or a couple of months later, it would make zero sense. The marketing designer and team working for this company saw a great opportunity and used it at the right time.

High-quality marketing design can set its own trends

A respectable brand doesn’t necessarily have to follow trends in marketing and design. Sometimes they set the trends.

Here is an example: Instagram changed its logo, which consisted of an old Polaroid-style camera, into a schematic outline of a camera in a warm color gradient. Soon after, gradients were everywhere: from logos to social media ads, from clothes to packaging design. Even Messenger, a product of Facebook which purchased Instagram, changed its logo into a gradient.

However, on the other hand, some brands are strong and long-lasting and don’t need to follow hypes in design in order to sell their products.

The last decade saw a big move from serif to sans-serif fonts, for example, and crisper, sleeker typography became very popular. There is a practical, as well as stylistic reason for this: sans-serif fonts are easy to read on screens, unlike on paper.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone should do it if it doesn’t match their style. Imagine if the Coca-Cola logo looked like this. It would be out of character, wouldn’t it?

coca cola.jpg How the Coca-Cola wordmark would look if the text was set in Gill Sans Humanist Serif. Source: Ricardo Eversley

Straying too far from your values can hurt consumer perception

Consumer perception is defined as a process by which consumers sense a marketing stimulus, and organize, interpret, and provide meaning to it. If you do something that is drastically out of character for a marketing campaign, target audiences might be confused.

The way customers feel about a brand is tightly knit to the way the company presents itself. So, all the brand marketing efforts need to be in line with the values your customers see and expect of your business. If a trend disregards something you stand for as a company, it is not worth using its momentum.

Some target audiences like trends more than others

No marketing campaign or branding project is done without having an exact target audience in mind. You design, write a copy and appeal to them by sharing their values and being relevant to their beliefs.

So, why would you follow a trend that doesn’t resonate with the target audience, or they maybe don’t even know of?

Here is a somewhat recent example: last spring, a TikTok dance trend called Jerusalema started showing up everywhere. Young people did it, and soon after all sorts of flash mobs orchestrated by whole companies started doing it.

But why would a bank that should be serious and trustworthy, make its employees dance on the street to seem cool and appealing to youth? Isn’t the ideal customer of a bank someone that can invest money in it, not a teenager on TikTok?

This is only one of the many examples where businesses trying to be trendy just turn out to look silly and unprofessional. So, before you think of following a trend, think of your main customers, and consider whether they would have any idea what is happening.

Moment marketing on social media can help you catch a hype wave

The capacity to capitalize on ongoing events and create communications and marketing collateral around them is known as moment marketing.

Simply explained, moment marketing is broadcasting or publishing marketing messages in a short-term news cycle, which include commentary or opinion about news or events that are currently taking place or are popular in the media.

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There are two main reasons why moment marketing is especially relevant as an informal marketing form:

  • Because of the speed and variety of material accessible on demand today, since customers are already part of the 24/7 news cycle.
  • Businesses want to be a part of their consumers’ everyday interactions, and since people talk about trends, incorporating these trends eliminates the guesswork for the brands.

Another reason why moment marketing is good to invest in is that it doesn’t stay relevant for long, so you can allow yourself to experiment, or comment on something that doesn’t have to do anything with your business. Here is an example of Norwegian Airlines using the breakup of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to promote their flights to Los Angeles. An airline has nothing to do with celebrity breakups, but the timing was right and the humorist approach worked well for the brand.


Trends can be useful and create momentum, but they aren’t always worth following. Sticking to your brand design, and even more importantly, to your brand values, should always come in the first place.

If a trend seems like one your target audiences would find interesting and relevant, then you can allow your brand to experiment with some creativity. However, if it has nothing to do with your ideal customers, stick to the guidelines.

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Stefanija Tenekedjieva

November 9, 2021

Journalist turned content writer. Based in North Macedonia, aiming to be a digital nomad. Always loved to write, and found my perfect job writing about graphic design, art and creativity. A self-proclaimed film connoisseur, cook and nerd in disguise.