We caught up with Coley Porter Bell’s top brand design experts, CEO Vicky Bullen and Executive Creative Director James Ramsden, to find out what they think is on the horizon for brand design in 2018.

Here are their top trends to watch…

Vicky Bullen, CEO at Coley Porter Bell

1. Say goodbye to the packaging brief

The packaging brief will become increasingly extinct as clients look to agencies to create visual and experiential identity systems that work fluidly across a brand's complex world. 

2. Clients will be on the hunt for…

Clients will increasingly seek genuinely integrated solutions with brand ideas and a rich visual identity system to bring them to life at their heart. 

3. Collaboration will be key

Guidelines will shift from being rule books to being inspirational catalysts for the whole of a brand's world. The ability to collaborate with other agency partners and to put together seamless teams will be a must have skill set.

4. The war on talent

The war on talent will intensify because of the lack of investment in creative education. And on the same theme, agencies will have to address the fact that freelance is the new norm for so many people - building your employer brand to accommodate a more 'itinerant' workforce will be key.

James Ramsden, Executive Creative Director at Coley Porter Bell

5. Make it personal

Brands will continue to ask how they can make themselves more relevant and personal for customers, eventually adapting themselves to each and every person’s individual experience. The trend of adapting brand behavior and content will, over time, extend to tone and visual identity, enabling brands to connect with customers in a sincere and genuinely individual way. Over time this may push the creative community to re-think how brands are built, assembled and managed.

6. Say it loud

As the voice revolution continues its growth in 2018, brands will begin to move from exploring how voice fits into the experience, to bringing better, genuinely helpful and innovative ways for people and brands to connect, smartly weaving the interaction effortlessly into everyday life. This will see brands build toolkits beyond what we think of as ‘traditional identity guidelines’ as they invest in Brandworlds that define every interaction between customers and brands.

7. Pursuit of better

One of the big themes at this years’ annual Contagious Event was the continued drive for brands to behave responsibly and be more open about their purpose and operations. I definitely think we will see this continue into 2018 and well beyond, as people expect the brands in their lives to operate with integrity, honesty and with solid codes of conduct. For example with FMCG, food and packaging, more and more people will want to know where their food is sourced, how it gets to the table, what’s in it and the material it’s packaged in.

8. Reduction

Expect the trend of reduction to extend in 2018 as brands wrestle with communicating only what they need to. Using design, content, interaction, storytelling, the full kit, effectively and precisely, whilst adhering to a sense of simplicity - reducing everything to only what’s critical to the customer journey. People crave efficiency and speed and the brands that create Brandworlds designed to help people navigate faster, using the System 1 part of our brains, will be the ones that continue to win our attention.


Want more predictions for 2018? Find out what the gang at O&M London think is next for advertising here.