Trend Report – The Visual Language of Brands (Chapter3)

The Third Chapter in our Comprehensive Trend Report
Over the last two Mondays we’ve published the first two sections of our research report into trends in visual language. Each Monday for the next four weeks we’ll publish another chapter. This week’s chapter focuses on trends in brand visual language of ‘Affordable Luxury’, ‘the Cult of Personality’ and ‘Urban Attitude’.

Trends in the visual language of brand identity are driven by many factors from the ‘me-too-ism’ of designers and their clients mimicking the visual language of market leaders, to new and emerging trends such as ‘sustainability’ that draw a similar and en-mass visual response from designers all over the world. Over the past 12 months we have collected more than five thousand different brand expressions spanning almost every major industry and category of the western world.

The brand expressions we tracked included existing, new and refined brand identities, product packaging, newspaper, magazine and billboard ads. The scale and breadth of these brand expressions allowed us to identify the major brand visual language trends of a broad range of market leaders for the last year. Whilst the majority of the examples presented in this report are recent, many trends are not in themselves new. It is our interpretation of the groundswell of take-up of a trend and the influence exerted within their market by the brands involved, that leads us to define the most compelling and influential trends.

What’s the value of a Trend Report?
All brands project an image through their visual language. It is up to each brand to make conscious and informed decisions about exactly what they wish their visual language to communicate relative to the competition and to their market’s perceptions.The report includes hundreds of examples of brands and their visual language to illustrate examples of brands who leverage trends to their advantage, as well as examples of those who follow trends to their disadvantage. The examples cross industries from fashion to food, from transport to telecommunications and everything in between, as well as markets from Australia to Asia, from Europe to the Middle East and the U.S.

Valuable Insights for all Owners and managers of Brands
An understanding and mastery of the trends in brand visual language will allow business to ‘tune’ their brand’s image to ensure they’re consistently communicating the right messages to the right people. For every organisation seeking to best manage their brand identity, these trends must be part of the consideration process. For each brand there will be advantages and disadvantages to leveraging the cues and meaning inherent in these trends. The big question you should be considering is this; ‘does the trend provide an opportunity to leverage a set of visual cues to communicate the perfect brand messages to your market, or has the trend become so widely adopted as to compromise the uniqueness of the brands who follow it?’

Download Chapter Three
of our Trend Report

Over the last two Mondays we published the first two sections of our report into trends in visual language. Each Monday for the next four weeks we’ll publish another chapter. This week’s chapter focuses on trends in brand visual language related to ‘Affordable Luxury’, ‘the Cult of Personality’ and ‘Urban Attitude’.

Click here to download Chapter Three of our Brand Visual Language Trend Report.

Or click here to download Chapter Two of our Trend Report.

You can also click here to download the First Chapter of the Trend Report.

© 2010 Truly Deeply. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. We’re delighted for you to share, blog or publish extracts of our articles, on the condition that Storm Design & Brand DNA are properly credited (and linked to) as the source, and that you include our URL:

For further information, questions and enquirers, contact us.

David Ansett, Brandamentalist
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Brand Designer


  1. Anthony Butler

    The democratization of luxury cuts two ways:
    1) Consumers have a chance to connect with high-end brands through their less expensive sub-brands e.g. A/X (Armani Exchange) which compete with the high-end business of mass market brands e.g. (Gap’s Banana Republic).

    2) Food brands making special ‘experiences’ out of food staples (i.e. pasta). Get a $6 packet of hand-made linguine because the $75,000 Audi is not even a possibility.

    End result: Lots of brands (including the true luxury brands) using minimalist design aesthetic to appeal to refined middle class tastes eager to break away from their Depression Era parents-who equated abundance in all things with prosperity.

    On the other hand:
    Youth brands go the other way, with everything-but-the-kitchen sink designs, and a non-linear approach to messaging to reflect the smartphone wielding, multi-tasking, texting while driving society of those under 35.

    Undercutting both trends is a return towards hand-lettering almost child like designs, which reflects the desire of some people to downsize their life, both to manage the global forces affecting them and localize their consumption to support their community and (hopefully) reduce the impact of global trade on our climate.

    Interesting stuff…


  2. Anthony, thanks for your thoughts and insights. The affordable luxury trend is an interesting one indeed. It begs the question; ‘does it add value to every day brands, or devalue luxury brands?’

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