In a world in which new trends and fads come and go in the bling of an eye, brands can often become confused in the midst of this constant change. As a brand, deciding whether or not to give into the many trends that come and go can be a difficult decision and one that can have significant impact on the brand’s success. As a branding consultant, I often get asked two questions related to current trends: “How should trends be considered when it comes to a brand's identity?” and "Is there a place for fashionable relevance in the world of brands?" The answer is yes to both, if done correctly and with a solid understanding of what your brand is all about.
I came across the amusing "Hipster Branding" tumblr blog last week. In the blog, Swiss designer Dave Spengeler "holds up a mirror to the artsy community" by redesigning some well-known logos with trendy aesthetics. This witty little blog idea made me wrestle with my own thoughts on the line of timeless design principles v. trendy aesthetics.
In design school I was taught that "eye candy" (or using trendy tricks) was never a good thing, unless it had a conceptual backbone. This still holds true. Most brands do in fact need a relevant and innovative identity system to cut through market clutter, establish brand message, and set the right perceptions. Almost everyone wants to look good. I have never had a client that sad the opposite. So how do you find a balance?
The answer, in my opinion, is simple: brands need to define their DNA first- void of skin-level trends. Once the brand knows who it really is then it can move into visuals and the process of trying to determine which appropriate aesthetics. Perhaps it needs some "Hipster Branding", because it's a Hipster brand. Perhaps it needs some "Credible Experts Branding" because credible & expertise is the value proposition for the business. Perhaps it needs some "Grungy Skateboard Branding" because it's a grungy skateboard shop. It all depends on the strategy. Trends aren't necessarily bad. Knowing what is happening in the design market place (or current trends) can actually be a great source of inspiration for designers to innovate on what other people are doing well.
Trends only become dangerous when there is no defined DNA backbone and it's just visuals for visuals sake. Trendy execution is not the issue. The issue falls on designers and clients prematurely jumping to the visual stage and not spending enough time defining the DNA of the brand. There will always be a space where brands and trends coexist as long as the brands core qualities are left intact and remain the basis for any design aesthetics..

Author's Bio: 

Dan is a consultant for Matschtic, a brand identity firm in Atlanta, GA. To learn more about our firm, please visit us at