2024 graphic design trends to avoid


Written by

Martin Sully

neon blue text, on a bright pink triangle that reads design trends


Predicting the hottest graphic design trends in 2024, is like choosing your favourite kid. We probably shouldn't do it and it's really hard.

Interestingly, as I've watched trends for the last couple years. I've noted that trends don't always come true this year, but often we see a flow on into the next.

With the economic downturn that we've been experiencing, there could be an increase in people designing their own logos and brands, but I'm optomistic about the future and hopeful that people don't go down that route as the results can be a little unpredictable.

And, let's face it, predicting trends is absolutely based on some astute guesses with a whole side-dish of opinion chucked in.

We'll explore Al's increasing impact and purpose-driven design.

And, in true Snapper Studio fashion, I'll end the article by questioning whether your brand should investigate trends.

So buckle up, here's the design trends we think will dominate the graphic design industry in 2024.

Graphic Design Trends for 2024

There's no beating around the bush here, we fully expect to see Al have a major impact on businesses and how they keep their brands, erm, on-brand.

Let's see how the graphic design world is shaking it up this year:

  • Al Graphic Design and Brand Management
  • Al Graphics/Branding Courses
  • Subscription based Design Agencies
  • Maximalist Design - bold colours, big patterns, creative layouts and dynamic typography.
  • Purpose Driven Design
  • De-Packaging

Al in Graphic and Brand Management

Being at the cutting edge of creativity, designers love disrupting the norms. Whether it's bending the rules of a set of brand guidelines or exploring a new tool. I'm gonna dip my toes into piranha infested waters and say that Al in branding and graphic design is going to explode!

First up, I read an article pointing to the fact that Adobe are introducing more powerful generative Al tools. From my perspective, it's to provide a professional competitor to battle Canva's Magic Studio.

If you don't want to read the article about how Adobe Al is coming for your branding. Here's a quick summary.

  • Adobe's Al Firefly is being positioned as a helpful assistant that enables generation of fully editable vector graphics. Allowing you to hand over tedious tasks and make content and branded assets quicker.
  • You can generate graphics with a prompt.
  • A tool called Generative Match, will be able to match existing brand styles, and tools like Retype can work out the fonts being used and make this editable too.

With the tools being put in place, the logical future step is for brand designers and graphic artists to be able to create a set of detailed brand guidelines within the software, and be able to output whatever they need to help customers.

As a result the initial costs of branding would will rise to compensate for faster and more efficient outputs in the future.

Al Branding and Design Courses

As the use of Al in design fields increases, the demand for Al branding or design courses will also increase.

Designers will want to expand their knowledge so they don't fall behind.

Interestingly, I have seen very little of Chat GPT being used to create Brand Strategies, with the only one I have seen titled as 'How to use Chat GPT for Brand Strategy (Best Prompts)'.

You'd think this would be useful and it starts off looking at naming a brand (which is the last step for a strategist). You need to sort out the brand values, define an audience and understand the benefits of the brand first.

It quickly moves into defining the brand personality and customer persona. Which is correct. But, then moves skips to marketing strategy, website copy, content creation and oddly on-page SEO. All 4 of those tasks, while important come separately to brand strategy.

As a result of this, I expect to see an increase in AI design courses, but here's the thing, building a brand is a longer process than quickly diving into AI, it's a thing that needs to be embraced and tweaked almost daily to create a thriving brand. Without it, you'll just have a business.

Subscription Graphic Design Agencies

Unlimited design changes. Pause and cancel anytime. Unlimited Stock Photos. Average 48 hour turnaround. Sound familiar?

With the need for design agencies to speed up their output to cope with the pressures of modern day businesses, more and more designers are productising and monetising a subscription service.

Designers are finding ways to offer simple packages – i.e. Standard package = 1 design request at a time, for unlimited brands, with unlimited users, with a quick turnaround.

Makes sense, most people only have 1 brand, and a 48hr turnaround is good. But claiming that you can turn around logos, branding or website's in 48 hours, is unrealistic.

Making it more and more likely that the only brand that benefits from this service is the design agencies, with the loser being you.

We tested a similar service for Brand Photography and Videography for a short period, but canned it when we couldn't service the needs of the subscribers properly. We also found that some of the subscribers didn't need our services every month.

Maximalist Design

Time to pack your bags minimalism.

We have all had enough of the simple and calm design aesthetics.

Maximalist design looks at bold patterns and bright colours that add vibrancy and big energy to designs.

For us the maximalist design approach isn't for bombarding the senses, as for a lot of people overloading can cause huge amounts of stress. But hidden details, like when you re-watch a movie you've seen 15 times and still spot new details that excite and delight you.

It's just another technique you can use in your customer service repertoire that can create brand resonance and help customers fall in love.

In summary, here's what to expect:

  • Bold background patterns and bright colours, these draw your eye to new details, evoke emotions and excite customers
  • Rainbow-inspired palettes can add vibrancy and energy.
  • An increase in complex illustrations, typography, and icons can create a modern and contemporary feel

Purpose Driven Branding and Design

Purpose driven brands are growing and with good reason.

The Zeno Strength of Purpose Study in 2020, unveiled some interesting results.

To begin, your Purpose is your North Star, and it's something consumers more importantly keep a lookout for. Zeno outlined 8 key attributes that consumers love:

  • Fair treatment of all employees
  • Products and services that meet consumer needs
  • Ethical and sustainable business practices
  • Support for social causes
  • Creation of new job opportunities
  • Diverse and inclusive culture
  • Issue Advocacy
  • Strong set of values

With that list, you can quickly see why a Brand Purpose is important, yet only 37% of businesses have a clear and visible purpose.

Staggeringly, businesses with a clear purpose get rewarded by 82% of consumers taking action to support the brands. Here's how:

  • People share their positive opinion with others (spreading the brand message)
  • They then encourage other people to support/buy from the brand (brand evangelist)
  • They start buying products/services (ker-ching)

Gen Z and Millenials are the biggest backers with between 92 and 90% of them saying they'd support them in some way.

So if you're target audience includes Gen Z and Millenials, make sure to bake Purpose right in.


The art of getting rid of extra packaging.

A growing number of consumers are frustrated by additional packaging, myself included.

Fruit and Veg are the catalyst for change - often they have skins to protect them, but when those products such as alcohol are packaged, adding a second layer to an already packaged product for the sake of increasing the excitement factor of a product is becoming a step too far.

Bruichladdich is a modern Scotch Whisky brand that takes a firm stance on doing things a bit differently. They're B-Corp Certified and make a commitment to the quality product, sources of ingredients and the past generations of distillers who've worked there.

When you hit the shop, they are one of the distilleries that don't automatically add another layer of packaging. And where they used to give options for a gift tin, this is no longer the case and they stick rigidly to their brands beliefs.

This makes it really appealing to a burgeoning youthful market of whisky drinkers that embrace a brands Purpose. (See Purpose Driven Branding above)

The role of a Graphic Designer in 2024

A designers role has been to help businesses communicate effectively with their audience, using their design knowledge (or design theories if you like to get nerdy) The goal is to convince someone to take action, inform the audience or introduce them to a whole new idea.

Designers take influence from a wide range of sources and should typically be lead by a good design brief, the business strategy or the brand strategy.

There's nothing wrong with the list of trends above. And if you're a designer searching for inspiration for a self-initiated project, the above might just give you some cool ideas.

But, if you're a small business owner looking for trendy brand tactics, this list is misleading.

As hard as I tried to not mention Canva, they are still on Santas naughty list again. Canva made everyone a designer. It did away with expensive design tools and the steep learning curve. But it also did away with all the training that sets a professional designer apart.

In the hands of the right people, Canva can be a fantastic design tool. With the Pro account in particular, you can add your brands colour palette, fonts and logos, and store assets like photos and graphics.

I use Canva to design bespoke branded templates for clients, using past work or newly generated brand identity. But, if you're familiar with Canva, you will see many Instagram accounts are influenced by their templates.

My friend John from the Creator Club summed it up nicely - "if you build your brand with a Canva mindset, you're building it with the same DNA as 100,000 other people in your niche".

Why You Need to Avoid Design Trends

Design is subjective. Designers bring personal opinions into a design, including trends they'd like to see/use (for portfolio purposes). But this is wrong and is not an effective way to problem-solve. You're not designing for yourself. That's what self-initiated projects are for.

A friend in marketing revealed a fascinating insight to me. In their last role, the company they worked for rebranded. In strategy workshops, the agency gently guided the client towards characteristics they liked, rather than listening to customers, reflecting, and implementing a strategic visual brand.

They had a beautiful facelift. But the same problems remained. A rebrand shouldn't paper over cracks.

Designing with trends in mind, sits your brand precisely where everyone else is – at the same level.

Let's clear this up with a fishing analogy, your customer is a fish, you've baited your $50 rod and cast it out to sea. You hope to catch a big snapper (see what I did). You wait. Nothing bites.

A switched-on competitor sees you struggling, repositions, dips the bait into their secret recipe gel that attracts all the big fish, and casts out behind those rocks over there. The end of the story writes itself.

If you're not elevating your brand, you're waiting for those customers to take the ordinary bait.

So, position yourself well and understand what the customer wants. They want to be lured in with the extra smelly bait.

Straying from the Brand Strategy and Brand Guidelines

Most professional graphic designers work with clients and businesses – who if they are lucky have Brand Guidelines. Guidelines are not set to tie designers hands behind their back and limit creativity. They help keep things consistent.

And alongside a Brand Strategy, they are a vital part of building a business.

Sometimes trends, break the guidelines. And a trend should never overrule a companies foundations or marketing efforts. A HUGE amount of research goes into a brands strategy, visual identity, colours, fonts and images. So randomly applying trendy colours, graphic styles, and fonts go against all the previous work. Confusing customers and breaking the brand reputation.

Guidelines can be gently twisted but not chopped into a million pieces.

Lessons from the past

Trends can hang around for 5-10 years, like the extravagant, super detailed logos and website's we called Skeuomorphism. Before we moved on to simplified flat designs. And then onto more futuristic 3D designs.

Trends pass and return. But, classic design principles always apply.

Think about brands like Apple, Coca Cola, McDonald's, Mastercard and Target. You can already see the logos and their colours. They have brand guidelines that feature timeless design elements, but that doesn't stop them from being fun and innovative when they need to.

Designers should explore their creativity. But carefully consider which (if any) trends can be incorporated safely. Ask yourself the following questions if you have an idea

  • Do they align with your strategy?
  • Do they break brand guidelines?
  • Is it beneficial to your audience or confusing them?
  • Will it be outdated quickly?

In summary, it's best to avoid trends and concentrate efforts on creating timeless basics that give you a platform for creativity. Working with a graphic designer/agency who understands your business and customers' needs/wants can help future proof your brand.

Need support? Book a Discovery Call.

Not sure where you want to go? We can chat through your brand, personal goals and work out an action plan.

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