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Saturday, 06 May 2017 15:55

DESIGN TRENDS: Set To Sex-Up Your Direct Mail

The graphic design sector has been on a rollercoaster of change over the last ten years with the introduction of onscreen design requirements. Branding is now firmly a mixed-media affair, with websites, social channels and email marketing having to harmonise with hard copy brochures, letterheads and advertising direct mail.

Branding guidelines have expanded to encompass both tangible and scrollable customer resources and talented design folk are grappling with new design techniques brought about by the digital revolution. To make things harder (or more exciting?), these techniques are changing at a rapid pace in line with technological advancements and consumer preferences. What’s en vogue one year can be so last season the next.

In this blog, we’ve handpicked a few design corkers that we’ve seen work harmoniously across on and off screen mediums. Most of these have been hailed as trend predictions for 2017 and beyond, but to us they feel like huge, and immensely stylish, irreversible steps forward in the design stakes.


There are two main colour trend predictions for 2017 – earthy minerals and bold primary colours.

The latter will most likely take the form of vector logos and bold colour palettes to attract Gen-Y, which is whole-heartedly embracing retro 90’s styling. That said, combine red, yellow, blue and green (yes, we know that’s secondary), with manmade material textures like concrete or stainless steel and you’ve instantly whipped up an irritatingly-stylish cacophony of visual elements, appealing to city slickers and the newly emerging market of ‘gritty women’ – a popular and engagement-hungry target audience for many brands at the moment.

If your audience is well and truly over the 90s and far too suburban for bare concrete, the earthy mineral trend is for you. Thankfully, this palette goes beyond mud brown, encompassing an array of deep hues like khaki and olive green, brick reds, maroons, clay grey shades and rich sunflower yellows. Even Pantone’s colour of the year ‘Greenery’ (Ref: 15-0343) is muscling in on the act, which means “fresh and zesty” comes under ‘earthy’ too – who knew?


Instagram has been dominating photography trends for a while now, first with its use of beautifying filters, and now with the complete opposite (#nofilter – sorry, we had to do it!).

Unfiltered photographs show raw emotion and unaltered reality, warts and all, to offer a more natural take on emotive brand photography.

Sainsbury’s have nailed this trend in their new, frightfully expensive but super cool #fooddancing campaign. It spans TV ads, online engagement, billboards, and in-store POS, with each element just as emotive and fun as the next – If you’ve been hibernating since January and haven’t seen it yet, check it out here.

As for products, it’s going to be more about showing it in its everyday glory, rather than the stylised, shiny ‘stock shot’ photography we are used to. A great example is the furniture retail sector, with IKEA being the obvious example. In many of their room shots they embrace a bit of well-placed mess – a few toys here, a chair out of place there or a ‘just got up’ styled bed spread.


The much-loved, off-price homeware store, Homesense is an inspiration in the #nofilter camp too, with their moreish and engaging promotional photography style.


Typography is another area of design which is heavily influenced by our increasing use of computers, tablets and smart phones. And it seems for now at least, bigger is definitely better.


In a nutshell, using big, bold statement fonts to make a real impact is all the rage and this can be said for both online and offline communications.  


As consumers, our attention spans are getting shorter, whether we’re browsing online or picking up the mail from the doormat. Using clean, bold, stand-out fonts attracts interest, grabbing the reader’s eye and emphasising key messages in an instant.


Adopting bold typography in your content layouts, brochure covers, website designs and direct mail is a surefire way to maximise those few seconds you have to draw your customer in. Manipulating a variety of font sizes can create a subconscious hierarchy of information which can really assist the customer journey.

Original Source shower gel is a great example of branding which puts bold fonts front and centre, using photography and images to reinforce the message. We think this is a step forward from their now quite dated logo and we anticipate a refreshed signature look for this company before too long.


It’s not just fun and stylish brands that are embracing the bold fonts. Lloyds Pharmacy has introduced a contrasting blue font to its well-known green branding to great effect – attracting the eyes of time-poor customers online and in store. Take a look here.

What does all this mean for your printed mail?

A major part of modern branding and design is to build bridges between the off and online worlds, so that customers can transition seamlessly between the two as they move along the customer journey. If the contents of the doormat feels akin to the experience they had in store, and then perfectly reflects the landing page they visit to redeem a personalised postal offer, then they are more likely to remain loyal to and engage with your brand.


We’ll write about this in more detail soon, but for now we hope that these design ideas have given you some inspiration for how you can blur the lines between tangible and scrollable marketing mediums. To discuss your print strategy requirements in more detail, call us today on 0845 003 6363.

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