You’ve seen the ads popping up on your feed. Brands promising you a new way of life with their toothbrush, mattress or shoe. The story is always the same: “the founder was sitting in a lecture when they had an “aha moment” which led them to create this product that is set to challenge the way you do things”. Don’t get me wrong, these challenger brands are needed to shake up their industries. But the same mindset isn’t being used across their visual communication.
Instead brands are leading toward the same clean, minimal aesthetic time and time again. The products are always shot with a pastel background. Rarely would you see a human in the shot. At best we would see a floating hand, no header, just a simple sans serif font that directs us to the “buy” button.
How did all these brands get to the same result? The clean, calming aesthetic soothes our busy minds for a minute, long enough to get people taping the pastel “buy” button. After a few years of the same thing flooding our feed, it moves from calming to clinical. It’s been like this for a while and we’re getting bored of seeing so many different brands pumping out the same thing.
It started with the Airbnb rebrand from the bubbly 3D font into the sans serif/pastel combo that was a fresh burst back in 2008. It won awards and helped lift the brand to what we know it as today. What followed for the next 13 years has been loads of similar ‘Millennial minimalist aesthetic” lead by start up brands offering us new products in the same safe aesthetic.
It’s time to lose the Millennial minimalist aesthetic and try to push brands into a completely new visual direction, just like Airbnb did. It’s starting to happen already with the likes of Chobani, their rebrand last year used a chunky serif font with retro 70’s photography paired with interesting textures and people (not just floating hands). They have people using their products to sell their products. Ground-breaking.
We’re not saying this design trend is wrong, but we are saying it’s wrong to sit comfortably on a trend that doesn't set you apart. It’s time we present this issue to clients wanting this sans-serif / pastel solution and challenge them on how they can zig while the rest zag. In doing so, will help them stick their head out above the crowd and maybe be the next Airbnb.
Onto the next beautiful trend.
Words by Art Director, Dean Arrow