Back when I was in design college (that’s a long time now), it used to be that every logo had specific colours that were chosen from the Pantone Matching System (PMS). These Pantone, or PMS colours were noted by number which could be 185 red or 545 blue. As a graphic designer, that was one part of the design job: to choose and assign a PMS colour for the brand identity.
But the question is in today’s world, do we still need pantone colours? Now with digital printing it’s easier and cost effective to avoid the traditional offset printing.
These days it’s not always necessary for a logo to be designed with PMS colours.
More and more now, clients find it more financially economical to get their artwork digitally printed (4 colour process) rather than offset printed, even if it’s just one or two colours.
This now means, we do not have to select a PMS colour. But no one’s asking should we?
TO ENSURE CONSISTENCY
Consistency of your brand such as your logo is important in helping your’e customers make a visual connection with your brand across all types of media.
Pantone colours are a good way for defining the visual elements of your logo and identity. But this can also be achieved by having your graphic designers indicate your corporate colours using other colour systems such as CMYK, RGB and web colours.
So, it is not critical that there is a specific PMS colour, but there should be specific formulas for the colours that are used in online and print.
TO MINIMISE COLOR CONVERSIONS
When a logo is approved, we provide a library to our clients. A common mistake clients do is use the files in a way that converts the colours back and forth between the different colour systems.
One example is our clients will place a RGB jpeg file in a Word document, but then send it to be digitally printed, which should be a CMYK print. This means that the client’s corporate colours may have started as a CMYK file, then become converted to RGB instead, and then converted again to CMYK.
Every tool that makes this change from one colour to another uses formulas to make this conversion. As a file gets changed over and over the true colour that was specially and carefully picked by the graphic designer can change from where it originally started.
The example of New England Clean Energy was designed and PMS 300 selected for their corporate blue. It’s important for them to have this logo as a one colour because they use it on many different applications such as signs, print and shirts.
But, we their brand identity has been extended beyond just the logo with the use a graphical supporting waves, these are yellow wavy lines that are featured on their web site. Those were initially introduced in a printed brochure. Therefore a CMYK value was selected for the yellow: (0C 0M 100Y 0K). A PMS colour was never assigned because the waves would always be used in CMYK or RGB.
Every great brand identity should include elements of the corporate identity that go beyond just the logo. New England Clean Energy this included the sky with clouds and waves. But, they don’t need a PMS colour. The CMYK colour was used on printed material, and also the RGB used on the website.
So, do you need to use Pantone colours? No, you don’t, but you should still define the corporate colours in all the different colour systems, just incase the client needs to use any of these systems.
Graphic Design Trends are influenced by culture and media, past and present, technology and fashion.
Madeleine Morley from The American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA) says this:
“A trend never simply emerges for a single year and then disappears in a puff of smoke. Instead, an aesthetic becomes popular gradually, even mysteriously, over time before fizzling out slowly without much notice at all.”
The design trends we will be covering didn’t magically materialise at the end of 2015; trends take time, and you’ve likely seen many of them in one form or another during the last couple years.
But even if you’re not one to follow trends, as a designer it’s sensible to be aware of the shifts going on in the industry—if only to perhaps avoid them before they become overused, or just to have the opportunity to tweak them into something new.
While forecasting trends with any certainty is a tricky business, many members of the graphic design industry seem to have developed a consensus as to what styles and approaches are most likely to take off for 2016.
“Modern Retro Style
As opposed to vintage or “old” retro—styles that draw from the early 1900s through the 60s—“modern” retro takes its influences from more recent decades, the late 1970s through the 90s. Think early PCs and video games, pixel art, and space themes: nerdy is now the new cool.
This illustration and t-shirt design by Ralph Cifra has all kinds of nostalgia happening. The technology theme also ties in nicely with modern-retro influences.
This has a retro yet contemporary feel, complete with vinyl records and a solar system, we just love it.
80s style for a stationery brand
Some limited “pixel edition” packaging designed for Coke. It features space invaders from the arcade video game of the same name released in 1978. Pretty cool.
Google made quite a noise in the design world when it introduced its material design guidelines. This visual language is characterised by “deliberate color choices, edge-to-edge imagery, large-scale typography, and intentional white space” for a bold and graphic look.
Some designers are referring to material design as “Flat 2.0” because it’s an update to the flat design trend, adding light/shadow, depth, and movement for a more tactile sense of realism.
Though Google created it for web and mobile, you’ll see material design principles popping up in all kinds of design now.
This fluid website concept incorporates material design principles, including bold colors, large typography, and light and shadow effects. Card- or tile-based layouts (see the menu elements to the left of this image) are also part of material design.
Flat 2.0 illustrations for a weather app from Disky Chairiandy that integrates light and shadow for a sense of depth. Simple, but effective.
Another website, designed by Al Rayhan, that features contrasting, bright colors but with a more traditional design—a good compromise between conservative and trendy.
If you want to try out one material design’s vivid colour scheme, look out Material Palette. It’s a colour scheme generator that can help you quickly and easily choose a versatile selection of hues. Go on, give it a go!
Bright & Bold Colors
Fitting in with both 80’s/90’s styles and material design, vibrant hues should continue to prove popular into 2016.
This trend would be a move away from the more muted, 1960s-inspired palettes to favour bright, neons, pastels and richer, more saturated colors.Pantone’s Spring 2016 Color Report falls in line with this prediction for 2016.
Neon shade of green combined with a golden yellow really makes this poster pop out. It was designed by In the Pool. Very cool and trendy.
Here, some bright pastel gradients over the imagery in his landing web page design, it really makes the text stand out.
A clearly 80’s-inspired design from Tron Burgundy with electric colours and geometric shapes.
Geometric shapes and patterns are align with some of the 80’s trends we’ve already looked at. This one can be applied in all sorts of ways—as individual graphic elements, as backgrounds, as an illustrative technique.
Keep an eye out for a style known as “low poly,” which got its start as a 3D modelling technique for video games.
There are lots of helpful tutorials for creating a low-poly effect, either from scratch or taking a shortcut with a tool like this. Or just pick up a selection of free low-poly textures to try out the trend the easy way.
Another take on geometric shapes with shapes layered forming a colourful backdrop for some business cards.
Coloured triangles on this chocolate packaging create an eye-catching background:
Simple circular and rectangular shapes combine to form a versatile visual theme:
Negative space is an essential part of any logo design. We love it. Negative space can be a clever way to add deeper or double meaning to your designs. It can simply help give your composition a more minimal look.
In this design for a restaurant called “The Swan & Mallard,” has creatively managed to fit a swan, a mallard duck, and an ampersand all into one logo though positive and negative space.
In a different way, the negative space in this logo has movement and context to the word being spelled out:
Have a look closely at the shapes created by the violin. They form a series of numbers 1, 2, and 3—which are part of the event name. How clever!
Modular layouts have been adopted by some of the largest brands for their websites.
It’s the self-contained modules or cards used as the primary organisational principle that has created the twist of a new trend.
From Balraj Chana
Layouts don’t have to follow a grid where everything is aligned. They can be a little more freeform and still serve as an organisational tool. For example, this design below.
Typography isn’t just for reading—it’s for making a statement. Look out for big, bold type that’s the center of attention. You can create drama, fear, love through size, but also through colour and texture.
Look at this handcrafted a series of letters to create the cover art for a magazine.
This much more minimalistic freeform approach depends largely on colour and shape.
This poster features a more freeform arrangement of some of the letters plus textures.
It’s been said that stock images are dead. Stock photography and graphics are more frequently being replaced by custom illustrations.
No graphic designer wants their work to look the same, and no business wants elements of their branding to show up on another competitor’s website. So that is why designers have been putting in the extra work to create one-of-a-kind solutions.
As bigger brands continue to embrace designs, this tactic of making imagery more personalised should continue to grow in 2016.
From Vlad Shagov
Dropbox takes a personalised approach to its imagery with casual illustrations—more like doodles:
Beautiful watercolor illustrations:
Minimalistic & Abstract Style
In contrast to the more 80’s-inspired design styles we’ve seen, this design trend relies on minimalism and deconstructing or distorting recognisable shapes and forms.
For instance this identity for a music school picks apart some of the shapes associated with musical notes and puts them back together in a different way:
These designs from StudioBrave and Kajsa Klaesén integrate geometric shapes and bright colours in a simplistic way, with plenty of white space.
Following design trends just for the sake of being trendy usually isn’t a good solution. If you do decide to try a trend, make sure it fits your project and audience.