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Design: The trends to watch out for in 2021
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The brandverse is moving towards personalisation and consumers are becoming more environmentally-conscious. Experts tel...
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Design: The trends to watch out for in 2021

The brandverse is moving towards personalisation and consumers are becoming more environmentally-conscious. Experts tel...
  • In our latest series, we look at different industries to understand what was 2020 like for them and to crystal gaze into the upcoming year, and identify some of the trends that will set the tone for 2021.
  • We speak to experts to find out design trends that 2021 has in store for us.
It is often said that your brand is something people talk about after you've left the room. It's all about perception. Product and packaging design plays a pivotal role in building a likeable perception that leaves a lasting impression on consumers in a highly-cluttered market. It also shapes a brand’s identity and can lead to increased sales.

However, with the outbreak of Coronavirus and the resulting lockdown, many consumers turned to e-commerce platforms to order from the comfort of their homes and it became a key part of everyday life. Consumers lost the experience of walking in a supermarket or a store that offered an immersive brand experience. COVID-19 also made ‘hygiene’ one of the top buzzwords amongst consumers.

Design experts had to up their ante by coming up with packaging design that was appealing enough to be delivered to consumers’ doors directly as it was seen as a bridge between consumers and brands. It was also required to communicate the hygiene practices that the brand followed, precautions that were taken to maintain consumer safety and how slapdash delivery didn’t affect the core product for consumers.

So, food delivery brands added another layer of sleeve so that the actual food pack remained untouched or placed a health card on the packs with temperature of the restaurant representative, or in some cases, attached sanitizer sachets to their packs. At the same time, experts had to make sure that the pandemic doesn’t put the environment on the back burner.

As a result, many brands altered their product offerings, marketing strategies, and packaging design completely to meet ever-changing consumer demands in 2020.

The brandverse is also moving towards personalisation and simultaneously, as consumers become more environmentally-conscious, designers are constantly in search of materials that provide long-term hygiene efficacy, materials or processesThe brandverse is also moving towards personalisation and simultaneously, as consumers become more environmentally-consciousthat do least harm to the ecology.

As the year draws to a close, we reached out to experts to find out how the design industry will navigate these challenges and a few trends that would monopolize the marketing world in 2021. Here is what experts had to say:

Lulu Raghavan, Managing Director, Landor & Fitch India:
Design: The trends to watch out for in 2021

Workspace Design

As businesses seek to return to some form of pre-Covid buoyancy and start to think about the right mix of #WFH and #WFO, I believe that Workspace Design will be one of the most important design considerations in 2021. This is a huge opportunity for companies to connect better with their employees.

Businesses can't just return to their former workplaces without reimagining the experience in its entirety for employees. I am not talking about office design which is just about layout, headcount, resources and utilities. Workspace design is a deeper discipline and mindset that connects office design to brand. It dictates the journey, the overall experience and ensures that the brand’s values and function are reflected in the physical, human and digital space, much like retail.

The most progressive businesses will be thinking about the six imperatives of Workspace Design: culture, interaction, function, sustainability, architecture and technology.

A well thought-through strategy on Workspace Design could help businesses to forge stronger relationships with their employees who in turn will become great brand ambassadors.

Ashwini Deshpande, Co-founder and Director, Elephant Design:
Design: The trends to watch out for in 2021

I, me, myself:

The time of accepting DIY is upon us due to the pandemic. Ways to achieve self-sustenance would be the big focus as far as individuals are concerned. This is true for physical as well as mental well-being.

Though #weareinthistogether has been trending, what it really means is we are actually apart at the same time. Each of us has a different story, different challenges, and diverse ways to tackle them. We have discovered our limitations this year. Next year will be to push those boundaries & surprise ourselves with new discoveries about ourselves. Products, services, experiences & entertainment that help achieve self-sustenance will flourish even further.

Kiran Khadke, Co-founder & Creative Head - Hyper Connect Asia:
Design: The trends to watch out for in 2021

Minimalism and inclusivity

Last few years, the design trends in the industry were defined with minimalism, muted elegance, and flat iconography with bold flavours of inclusiveness and equality.

In 2021, these trends will continue to push the boundaries further, however, with heightened impact of COVID, the trend will add elements of Optimism & Local Community Flavours to the design trend and as designers play more with bright positive designs across communication, packaging, and other large facets of design such as architecture... The wave of positive vibe only will dominate the design trends along with rich flavours from local sub-cultures in the coming year.

Shashwat Das, Founder, Almond Branding:
Design: The trends to watch out for in 2021

Shift to muted-colour range

After the most unpredictable and uncertain year in the history of mankind, when you think of predicting a trend for the upcoming year, it soubrands like a daunting task.

I think one of the common elements between both of my favorite subjects - Marketing and Design, is that they both start with understanding the consumer’s need. And after such a chaotic year, where there is no going back to the “normal” as we knew it, I think the year 2021 should be dedicated to understanding the consumer all over again.

There is so much that has changed in her life amid this pandemic. Her outlook towards health and wellness has evolved as the year has pushed her into re-evaluating her diets and lifestyle. She has become increasingly aware about the environment and is willing to take a far more active approach in doing something for it. So, in the upcoming year, it's time to step back and align ourselves with these changing priorities and needs.

The environment around us is reacting to the events from the unique year that has gone by. And Brand Design is no different.

I am envisioning brands moving towards more muted colour schemes as opposed to the neon rage that had taken on the digital world. The muted colour schemes are more natural, safe and soothing, something that reflects the mood of the consumer in the post-covid world.

I am looking at more motion logos (likes of Google revamped logo) that engages the consumer better. I can also see more and more digital platforms and apps offering the dark mode in the coming year. It enhances visual ergonomics that can help us stay more focused on our work and reduce eye-strain.

Ashutosh Karkhanis, Creative Head and Managing Partner, Open Strategy and Design:
Design: The trends to watch out for in 2021

Humanizing of digital experiences

Major events help hasten all sorts of changes. The pandemic forced mass adoption of ideas and concepts which existed on fringes. Remote working, digital tools, e-commerce etc. all became mainstream and the default way of doing things.

When usage scales up, is when the next phase of evolution starts. Zoom was well-designed for occasional use, but the moment it became the default mode of communication, it led to ‘Zoom fatigue’.

I believe that we will increasingly see design stepping in to help look at these experiences from a more human and social lens, thereby pushing the quality of experience. Zoom and the likes will evolve beyond productivity and design keeping the social dynamics of work in mind. E-commerce will need to design for discovery and excitement of shopping, not just ease and convenience."
Any time of great change is an opportunity for design to step in and guide the way. This is one of those times. I am personally very excited.