With every year that passes in the world of social, a new visual style is born. And with artists, bloggers and creative media ever keen to highlight their forthcoming predictions, it’s easy to see how quickly these latest trends take flight – from retro colour gradients to custom illustration. Yet despite the pull towards these new-fangled styles, it’s how we take inspiration from them that truly sets our creative apart from the rest. Here, we’ll be exploring some of the biggest design trends set to make a frequent appearance on Instagram, and how we can apply them to our own content to give brands a wider reach (and even louder voice).

If you haven’t already tried to create your own Instagram Story (complete with goofy GIF Sticker), then you’ll no doubt have swiped through one. But how can brands stand out from a sea of transient content, without the risk of becoming flotsam and jetsam? Whilst only viewable for a 24-hour window, Stories are a great platform for brands to flex their creative muscles, inviting users to interact and engage with content that’s both fleeting and fresh.

Clashing colour

Take this example by @Pablo.Rochat, a San Franciscan art director who’s widely revered for his playful artwork. In a world where we’re constantly scrolling, his videos allow fans to interact with his creative in a way that keeps them engaged, and more importantly, eager to return for more… This ‘tap-and-break’ example catches the eye with its quirky, cartoon-esque design, with vibrant patterns predicted a step in the right direction for 2018.

In support of this emerging trend, analytics blog Kissmetrics created an infographic stating: “Magazine readers recognise full-colour ads 26% more often than black-and-white ads”. Although this pertains to print, the same can be said for digital formats – the more bombastic, the better. When it comes to the use of unconventional colour, household names including Spotify and eBay are ‘rebranding’ their image to include multiple shades in their creative. File hosting service Dropbox demonstrates this expression of colour across the majority of its Instagram content from 2017 onwards…

Eye-catching illustration

And from dynamic colours to quirky drawings, another style making waves this year is bespoke illustration, an ever-evolving creative outlet that’s as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. Take email marketing service MailChimp for example, a brand whose illustrative style has helped evolve its entire persona through the years – and an approach that’s still very much in full force (here courtesy of designer @dancebuffet).

A fascinating example of the changing landscape of illustration includes the Adobe post below – a contributor asset shared with the brand’s 636k Instagram followers. To the untrained eye, it looks like an out-of-focus skyline photograph. It is, however, an illustration – one that embraces the trend to be vibrant colourful, and unexpected, and to great effect.

Terrific typography

Another style you can expect to see a lot of this year is bold, handwritten typography. In a world where less is more, marketers can use this to both inspire and better communicate their message – sometimes using a single word. Robin Williams said it best: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world”. Whether it’s a serif or sans-serif font, we’re seeing a lot of major brands implement this style, including the below example from Adidas as part of its #HereToCreate campaign.

From graffiti-style typography to the use of more ‘alternative’ drawing materials, another great demonstration of artistic text in action is the below example by McDonalds – need we say more?

Let’s get crafty

Technology continues to do a stellar job in allowing us to see the world differently, giving us the tools to do things we never thought possible. Yet due to the evolution of efficient design, authentic craftsmanship is sometimes lacking, which is why hand-drawn assets and the use of physical materials is predicted to make a real splash this year.

Below is an example of exactly that, featured on the official page of Instagram, by an artist named @scrinkl. Both intricate and vibrant, this highly detailed creative takes the art of papercutting, and brings it into the digital world.

We imagine 2018 to be a year of breaking new ground, pushing creative, and exploring things that are new – whilst also creating pieces that are both inspiring and meaningful. One thing these trends have in common is the intent to stand out, with the hope of receiving that all-important tap of the ‘Save’ icon – keeping its special place in the library of digital memorabilia

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