“Design is where science and art break even.”
– Robin Mathew
In 2016, all marketers are designers — even if the word isn’t in your job title. Content and social media marketers need to understand basic graphic and web design elements. Event marketers design customer experiences. Marketing analysts design research processes. And at the very least, everyone is tasked with designing a slide deck at some point in their marketing career. So, marketers, it’s about time we all started paying a bit more attention to design trends.
Not sure where to get started? Let’s take a look at three design trends that you can use to elevate your B2B marketing and start thinking more like a designer.
Trade Show Design Trend: The “Unbooth”
When I was in sixth grade, my class hosted an Ancient Egypt Fair. We each were tasked with creating an information booth about Ancient Egypt for the younger students in my elementary school to visit. I don’t remember anything about my own project, but I do distinctly remember one of my classmate’s. Her topic was mummification. Not only did she create a fake mummy out of paper mache, she also put red gelatin in a bowl and had kids squeeze it in an attempt to simulate the feeling of a brain that’s been removed via hook. A little morbid, yes, but I still remember it to this day. She had created an unforgettable “unbooth.”
This trend, albeit in a less messy form, is changing the face of trade shows today. Instead of traditional booths with flat graphics and boring brochures, savvy event marketers are all about the unbooth. Create a branded experience at B2B events that attendees will flock to. We’ve seen businesses incorporate virtual reality, mini golf, phone charging stations, and even bars into their unbooths. The key, of course, is to get creative while staying on brand.
At Connections 2016 in Atlanta, we embraced the unbooth. We went for a summery theme and created the B2B Marketer’s Backyard, complete with Atlanta-based King of Pops treats (we’re all about supporting local businesses), corn hole, and a photo booth in an old school VW van — and it was a hit.
— Samantha Swift (@SamanthaASwift1) May 10, 2016
Graphic Design Trend: Flat Lay Photos
You’ve seen this trend on Instagram before, probably in the form of beautiful bird’s eye view of Sunday brunch that you just know required the photographer to stand precariously on a chair in a public restaurant. And according to stock photo website Shutterstock, searches for flat lay photos increased 160% last year.
You can use the trend to show off your products, like Try the World does in their Instagram ads:
Or you can use the flat lay trend as a design element on your website and landing pages, like Desk.com does here:
Web Design Trend: Interactive Online Experiences
Experiential marketing isn’t just for in-person events like trade shows. This trend is also going strong in the online arena in the form of gamification, personalized videos, and interactive microsites.
A word of caution, though: when it comes to interactive online experiences, a rock-solid strategy is key. Hiring an agency to complete your project can be pricey, and creating it yourself can be time-consuming. Before diving into a project of this scope, make sure you’ve got a solid plan and aren’t just following this trend for the sake of it. Sit down with your entire marketing team and ask yourselves the following questions.
- What’s your business goal with this project/campaign? Is it to generate leads? Educate your customers? Raise awareness of a new product?
- Is an interactive project the best way to accomplish this goal?
- How will you measure the success of your project?
- For how long will the interactive experience be relevant? Can it be used as a piece of evergreen marketing, or does it have a short lifespan?
Need some inspiration? The Shutterstock article we linked to above employs this trend really well. The content is compelling, the graphics are beautiful, and the interactivity streamlines — rather than detracts from — the online experience. Plus, its content is guaranteed to be relevant for an entire calendar year, so Shutterstock is certainly getting plenty of bang for its buck.
It’s time to start considering yourself a designer. The truth is, marketers are constantly designing — images, videos, experiences, and even data analysis processes. The trends discussed in this article are three great jumping-off points for B2B marketers who want to expand their design horizons.
Have you designed something you’re proud of lately? What’s a current design trend you love — or loathe? Leave us a comment; we look forward to hearing your thoughts!