• Alex Cosham

Is Custom Design Dead?

As more tools develop to allow any of us to create our own logos, websites and arguably a rudimentary brand identity, has the advancement of these tools killed custom design?

Recent trends in graphic design, especially for business, have revealed that custom design is once again growing in popularity despite the rise in point and click solutions. We explore 5 graphic design trends that tell us, custom design doesn't look dead to us.

1) Scalable Branding

There was a time where businesses cemented their brand identity, unwilling to tamper or tweak their logo or design for fear of diluting their impact. As a result, from buildings to bottles, the designs we saw were less likely to change or ‘respond’ to their environment creating some clunky branding. Enter ‘responsive’ design, providing scalable branding that retains the personality of a business but adapts to different use, particularly helpful across the numerous screens used to consume media. Popular mainstream examples include Google, with their use of a scaled back ‘G’ and ellipsis ‘…’ for icons and loading pages or the emotive Walt Disney branding, which retains all the nostalgia and whimsy using the minimal Disney ‘D’.

2) Colour Me Impressed

Similarly to our logos of yesteryear, corporate colours would often follow a more regimented routine. Corporate colours remain a key aspect of brand identity and if you subscribe to certain ‘colour theory’, have the potential to say a lot about you…so it’s important they are saying the right things! With yellows synonymous with optimism; blues evoking feelings of trust and calmness and green a suggestion of freshness, health or even wealth, there are many things colour can say. But why be limited to one? More and more businesses have diversified their pallet, straying from regimented hues to dip into a range of hues woven into promotion, products and publicity with Aviva doing this well whilst maintaining balance with their iconic yellow. For bonus points, some brands have even resurrected the gradient as a popular use of colour, whilst others have experimented with duotones for a striking contemporary look.

3) Just GIF it up

The internet is awash with GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format), providing amusement to many with shocked cats, moving memes and back catalogue of reactions for any situation. However more businesses have seen the potential in GIFs to form eye-catching elements of their marketing media. Creating brand specific GIFs for advertising, products and services give businesses a new avenue to share information at a visceral level, with initial impression taking 3 seconds, GIFs are well placed to leverage this. A good branded GIF can share clear messaging & call customers or clients to action in a way that other media may not without the need for a full-blown video.

4) Tweaked Typography

A golden rule among typographers has often been to leave lettering alone. However despite the robust rise of simplistic sans serif fonts in branding, some designs have started to challenge this rule. At the top end of this typography transformation, more brands have begun to create custom fonts, often a pricey but striking option when done right. Plus you can bank on the sought after uniqueness to set your brand apart via this option. Others have demonstrated the variety in modern typography, from type used as full visuals or to create imagery itself, to overlays and cut outs weaving typography with wider elements. Some brands have even revived retro styling in what is being termed neo-vintage, with Swagger & Jacks of Norwich a great local example of this throwback being used effectively.

5) Authentic Imagery

Imagery is important. Imagery is important. Déjà vu? Such is often the effect of stock images in marketing. We all use them and stock imagery has and will continue to be a valuable asset for many businesses. However as clients and customers become more discerning, offering an interesting and personal story within your brand can often be challenging with the same stock imagery everyone has access to. As a result many businesses are spending time and money developing authentic photography and illustration to support authenticity and narrative. Quality photography and illustration can set brands apart and similar to our use of colour, can have a tremendous effect on perceptions of quality, trust and indeed interest.


We hope you enjoyed our exploration of custom design, what do you think of the trends we identified?

Whilst point and click solutions could be seen as competition, we like to see them as inspiring creativity in our clients. So whether you are looking for a full custom solution or something that works more as a template or DIY project, we're happy to help.

You can see more about what we do here.

Get in touch to discuss your ideas.

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