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4 Visual + Design Trends Shaping Content Marketing in 2024

Published on Mar 18, 2024

4 Visual + Design Trends Shaping Content Marketing in 2024
Anastasia Dyakovskaya
Anastasia Dyakovskaya studioID

Content marketing is constantly evolving, and a crucial part of the puzzle is visual storytelling. Every year, thought leaders in the space share predictions on what we’re likely to see in the months ahead, from relevant subject matter to the use of particular colors, design tactics, mediums, and more. According to Brenda Milis, Principal of Consumer and Creative Insights at Adobe,

As we head into a new year, the creative landscape mirrors our disruptive, rapidly changing world.

“This year’s creative trends are especially indicative of how both creators and consumers are craving visuals that inspire and reflect the endless possibilities of the imagination.”

When it comes to marketing, however, we’ve narrowed it down to four trends brand leaders would be wise to watch and get in on this year — no matter who your audience may be.

Brand Imagery Gets Surreal

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Generative AI has revolutionized the creative process, democratizing design and enabling anyone to bring their creative visions to life, regardless of skill level.

Now that technology allows us to experiment, play, and reimagine creativity, we’re moving away from minimalist simplicity to the stuff that dreams are made of — and the weirder the results, the better. 

Surrealism is in, because realism is out,” says Bas Korsten, Global Chief Creative Officer at Wunderman Thompson. “If you think about the state the world is in right now, we need ways to escape… People need surrealism to not have to deal with reality for a few, scarce moments. And that trend is not going away. It’s only growing.”

With seemingly endless applications across topics and industries, AI tools can now produce complex, tailored visuals based on brief input, allowing for the rapid creation of unique graphics and elaborately surrealist imagery. And since it’s just a few clicks away, brands are expected to rise to the occasion. 

Now is the time to harness these cutting-edge tools and explore new avenues across all mediums of design to capture consumer attention.

Expert Insight

“Surrealist visuals have become the norm thanks to generative AI tools,” according to Artlist. “The real challenge of 2024 is to use these tools to push what’s possible. The brands that catch consumers’ attention will do so by getting creative with visuals, sounds, video, and motion design. We’ll see creators finding fresh ways to use FPV drone technology, exploring AR/VR, and creating immersive experiences for consumers.”

studioID Design Tip

Play is crucial here, and experimentation is essential if you’re hoping to land on something that resonates with your brand personality and audience interests. Even stock photography can become surreal with edits like extreme close-ups, unexpected color combinations, abstract angles, and other unique elements like illustrations, double exposures, and overlays.

Fully generative options open up exciting possibilities for never-before-seen graphics, designs, and even video production with a dream-like quality that can work for almost any kind of brand.

🎨 Related Reading: Mastering AI for Content Design: 3 Impactful Tips

Graphic Design Goes Retro

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Everywhere you look, it seems like what’s old is new again — and has been for some time. Marketing Dive reports that retro designs have been trending for about five years now, with nostalgia marketing more recently on the rise. We’ve watched the emotion-evoking trend come to life across products and industries, from packaging and web design to full-on brand refreshes and reimaginings. 

Before revamping their logo last year, for instance, Pepsi asked customers to draw the Pepsi logo from memory. And the results were more similar to what the brand looked like 14 years ago — with name and image intertwined. So that’s exactly what they decided to move back to. 

Creative testing is such a critical part of rebranding pre-flight,” explains Jessica Litherland, Account Director at Dragonfly AI. “As brands work harder to disrupt the industry and become more memorable to consumers over competitors, predicting attention will become more important for success.” 

Having data insights to drive decision-making on new designs is what makes the difference between a brand getting the right attention or not.

Expert Insight

“What began as a fascination with ‘90s and aughts styles, design, and technology, has grown into a deep dive into all eras, re-envisioning and reinterpreting vintage lifestyles and settings with plenty of creative license throughout, particularly with AI-generated hyper-realistic renderings of past periods,” according to Adobe. 

“This not only captures the attention of Millennials who grew up in that era,” adds George Arabian, CEO of NVISION, “but also evokes a sense of comfort.” 

studioID Design Tip

When paired with contemporary content strategies, nostalgia can be a powerful marketing tool that strikes a chord with older and younger demographics. And it’s not just for heritage brands; as long as the aesthetic makes sense, new companies and startups are free to dive into the nostalgia trend, too. 

“In the better-for-you space,” Marketing Dive reports that “retro designs remind consumers of a time when food and beverages had fewer additives and preservatives,” for instance, while “simple, retro designs can also symbolize clean ingredients.” What might a retro look and feel mean for your brand and, more importantly — what meaning could it make for your audience?

⬆️ Related Reading: 3 Historic Brand Rises, Falls and Comebacks: Marketing Lessons and Cautionary Tales

Social Media Videos Pare Back to Basics

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For years, we’ve seen companies leveraging user-generated content and customer testimonials as an effective element of their video marketing mix. With a shift towards authenticity and rawness, brands are moving away from overly polished, cinematic videos to more genuine, unfiltered clips. And lately, the DIY vibe is popping up more and more beyond ads alone and making its way right into the core of brand content. 

Especially prevalent on social media, where users crave real connections via behind-the-scenes clips, live Q&As, and UGC activations, short-form video still leads the way. But instead of high production value (and astronomical costs), these days budget-friendly low-fi memes and self-taped clips are on the rise across B2C and B2B brands alike. 

▶️ Related Reading: 5 Short-Form Video Trends for Share-Worthy Content in 2024

Often featuring or requiring just one or a few people to create, simple videos that are 60 seconds long or less can “increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, boost sales, or [help businesses] engage with their audiences in a meaningful way,” according to Dmitrii Kustov, Founder and Marketing Director at Regex SEO. “Among all current marketing trends, 

short-form videos have the highest return on investment and the highest average engagement.

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Expert Insight

“Recently (for better or worse), I’ve seen a huge influx of user-generated ad content on Instagram,” affirms Bernard May, founder and CEO of National Positions. “While UGC is nothing new, the ‘basicness’ of this content is surprising. Quality and effort look to be steadily dropping. Brands can capitalize on this by simply raising their UGC bar by even 1% to stand out. Quick edits, mixed media, and captions are easy additions that can take your UGC up a notch (or 10).”

studioID Design Tip

Why not experiment? What might a next-to-nothing budget, 30-second video look like for your brand? 

With the right concept in place, the results — however simple — may surprise you. And if you do plan to spend on video marketing, try out some quality edits instead of spending on something like star power.

“Using cuts create[s] an engaging and fast-moving video,” says Jessica Hawthorne-Castro of Hawthorne Advertising. “This can be done by having one person showcasing or demonstrating a product, and then cutting to another person who is continuing the same motion but in a different setting. Including lively music makes for a fun and quick way to showcase products and hold the viewer’s attention.”

🔉 Related Reading: How Brands Are Using Sonic Branding Beyond Ads

Text-Based Posts Take on Typography

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Whether or not your brand already has a recognizable typeface that sets it apart, this year we’ll be reminded of the power of text. And while visual-heavy platforms like Instagram and TikTok continue to find new ways for people to engage, expect to see a return to text-based posts shared as static images or, better yet, flip-through carousels designed to tell an ongoing story.  

This content can be created to be platform-specific, but it’s also a great way to repurpose proprietary info and existing material like stats, quotes, and company announcements as well as how-to articles, listicles, and other helpful tips. How so? Sprout Social says:

Text posts stand out in a visually saturated feed and are great for offering bite-sized value or sparking conversation with followers.

♻️ Related Reading: How to Repurpose Content for Social, Email, Sales Outreach, and Beyond

Expert Insight

“Don’t create a 200-page brand guidelines document. Most employees won’t read or know how to use it,” advises Zach Kitschke, CMO at Cavna. “Instead, create templates that ensure brand assets like fonts, colors, logos and other graphics are a snap to locate and use. Make these widely available across departments for sales presentations, social media graphics, marketing reports, brainstorming documents, and any other collateral that expresses your brand.” 

studioID Design Tip

When it comes to the art of typography, the most important thing is not to overdo it. Limit your font choices to two or three, tops, and make sure someone on your team’s design-savvy enough to know which ones work together or are better left apart. 

If a particularly flamboyant serif font makes sense for your brand, for instance, don’t pair it with something similar; go simple instead. That way your message will remain visually distinctive yet clear and legible — and that’s a must for any marketer. 

💡 Related Reading: 4 Brands Upping the Ante on Creativity and Storytelling in 2024