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  • Writer's pictureWeSparq

Culture & Design Trends for 2021

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

Now, more than ever before, consumers are choosing brands whose messaging, marketing and values go beyond the product and resonate with their hearts and minds. In fact, 71 percent of consumers consider brand identity to be a major influence on their purchase decisions.

Resonating with consumers in a world that is constantly changing can be difficult, especially in a world in which trends are accelerating even faster with technology and social media. In light of these challenges, it’s critical that marketers stay on the pulse of cultural and design trends to maintain an understanding of what matters most to consumers.

We're taking a look at the top culture and design trends of the second half of 2021 and breaking down how brands can capitalize on them to appeal to today’s consumer.

1. A Global Mindset

Ongoing advances in technology continue to elevate our connectivity and understanding of ourselves as global citizens. With social media, digital collaboration tools and the rise of remote experiences, we are no longer constrained by our physical footprint. Local problems can be conceived of as having global implications; global solutions can be weighed alongside their local relevance. Welcome to 2021, the year in which a truly global mindset is not only possible but necessary to understanding how to approach the greatest challenges the human race faces today.

This shift in mindset has had fascinating implications on arts and culture consumer trends. With travel restrictions still inhibiting globe-trotting, consumers have translated their global mindsets to global-inspired hobbies. According to Pinterest search data, “globe-crafting is the new globe-trotting,” with a 3x increase in searches year-over-year in the U.S. for terms “ancient Egyptian architecture” and a 95% increase in searches for ‘Japanese carpentry’.

What This Means to Your Brand

You can begin to tap into the global mindset trend today:

  • Food Brands: Promote internationally-inspired recipes and cuisine cultures. Rather than appropriating cultural assets that may not be part of your product's mission and origin, pay homage to other cultures by enumerating the ways your product can compliment global recipes. Pursue partnerships with internationally-based brands that amplify the food cultures of other regions.

  • Travel Brands: Create travel guides and destination information that inspire wanderlust and keep customers dreaming about other lands even in the face of travel restrictions. Provide cultural education and context to honor the destinations you spotlight.

  • Media Brands: Spotlight the stories of other lands through globally-minded people, places and products. Connect global challenges to local concerns in your articles. How can you show your reader that the world is, in fact, a bewilderingly small, diverse and beautiful place?

2. A Commitment to Sustainability & Social Impact

Since the pandemic, our society is paying even closer attention to cultural and social issues. Consumers are more conscious than ever about the impact their buying decisions have on the world around them. Today, 62% of Americans care about the negative impact of producing and buying unsustainable, throwaway products. To meet these shifts and also confront the most pressing issues of our world today, leaders across various industries should find ways to support social causes in their brand. In this regard, be sure to take note of the age group of your audience. If your brand caters to a younger audience, sustainable consumerism holds even truer, with 63% of Gen Z, for example, consciously trying to reduce their use of single use plastics.

What This Means to Your Brand

At WeSparq, we believe that building your brand to include a social mission from the start is the most important building block of good business in the post-COVID era. If you haven’t implemented a positive impact mission into your brand’s foundation, however, don’t panic! Here are some ideas for jumping on the conscious consumerism trend:

  • Apparel Brands: Evaluate your supply chain and identify ways you can uplevel your production to become more sustainable. Transparently name the ways you want to improve your production processes to your consumers and market the ways you are already undertaking sustainable practices.

  • All Brands: Consider taking steps to become a B Corp. Brainstorm partnerships and co-marketing initiatives with nonprofit organizations that align with your brand values.

3. Mindful Mysticism

There’s no denying that mystical wellness tools like manifestation, astrology and crystal healing have popped off in the mainstream in the last couple years. In the wake of the societal rupture and uncertainty of 2020, people are turning to alternative belief systems and spiritual practices for solace and support.

According to Pinterest search data, there’s been an over 100% increase in searches year-over-year in the U.S. for terms such as “protection crystals” and “manifestation techniques.” Pew Research Center has reported 6 in 10 Americans believe in a New Age concept, such as reincarnation, astrology or psychics. Traffic to astrology sites increased during the pandemic with outlets like Dazed Digital, seeing a 22% increase in horoscope-related traffic from the previous quarter.

What This Means to Your Brand

The universe holds something for you too. Tap into the trend towards mysticism:

  • Fashion & Beauty Brands: Give personalized product recommendations based on customers’ zodiac signs. Launch a line of products inspired by crystals or spiritual properties.

  • All Brands: Find ways to connect your product or services to the astrology trend and boost traffic to your website. For example, if you’re a technology brand, create monthly “Techstrology” horoscopes and give predictions on technology trends based on the astrology of the moment. Write blogs inspiring self-reflection and intention-setting practices.

4. Muted Color Palettes

In light of the uncertainty, stress and hardship of 2020, consumers are looking for safety, hope, and solidarity. Design-wise this means leaning into soft, muted and natural tones rather than majority neon or bold color palettes. Aim for softer hues combined with a basic white or black base. Choose single shades over complicated multi-colored gradients or shadows.

What This Means to Your Brand

Don't drastically change your website design or redesign your logo. After all, that speaks of your brand personality. Instead, look for small ways to integrate earthy, muted tones into your marketing. Here are a few ideas:

  • Media Brands: Design your next newsletter, email campaign or promotional landing page using earthy, muted tones.

  • Apparel & Beauty Brands: Design a special line of products in natural shades and textures. Launch an accompanying social media campaign with Instagram story highlight icons in each shade.

  • Food Brands: Design soft-hued packaging for your next product launch. Create a landing page in earth tones to match your new product.

  • Complement Your Neon Personality: Find some grounding colors that give your overall palette a trendy feel.

5. Homegrown, Simple Design

In lockstep with softer, natural colors, brands should also lean towards simple, organic design. Organic design takes cue from Mother Nature, utilizing shapes that evoke those we see in the natural world. This includes undulating lines, dynamic curves, and natural textures that replicate the elements of nature. Not only does simple, organic design match the trend towards earthy color palettes, it also visually expresses the tenets of sustainability and social responsibility.

What This Means to Your Brand

You can find small ways to integrate new design trends into your current design. Here are a few ideas:

  • All Brands: Design an alternative, short-term version of your logo to honor a trending issue or dedicated time of year, (some examples: AAPI Heritage month, Pride month, etc.). Feature a simple, line-based design with white space in the new version of your logo. For your next event, design fliers and graphics that feature a simple, line-based design. Consider investing in a photo backdrop wall that matches this design at your event.

Remember: A good visual identity should be able to allow room for growth and expansion if and when it makes sense. Here's an invitation to make room. Power into the second half of the year and stay trending.

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