One of my closest friends lives in London, but he's in San Diego now for his sister's wedding. It was a pleasant surprise. I hit him up and he told me he'd only be in town until tomorrow evening.
Tomorrow evening!? Dang, that's not a lot of time to get together.
I checked my calendar and saw a bunch of scheduled items. All of them are black, so there's no distinction between them. How could I have scheduled so much stuff on one day?
Cue color coding. I created some alternative colors to use to showcase different meeting types I have. Red for in-person and green for digital meetings.
Sure enough, I have three red items today. That's a lot of meetings in a very short amount a time. Don't get me wrong, I love people (a lot more than most designers, I'd think), but this showed me that I'm spreading myself thin for time. This burns the most when I don't have flexibility to see friends from out of town because of it. Something had to change.
So I set a rule: if I see two red/green slots in one day, that's it. No more. A red flag, if you will.
Color-code your calendar.
We are approaching the end of 2020, so there will be an inevitable slew of posts and articles titled "Design Trends 2021." This punch is for the faces of these articles.
Why am I against design trends? Three reasons:
1. They aren't really trends (mostly)
A trend is an upward, macro progression. They shift societies as a whole and alter what we perceive to be the norm. For example, data transparency, responsive design, artificial intelligence, public health (thanks COVID), or E-commerce are trends. Trends are movements that you either get on board with or your company becomes irrelevant. Design trends, therefore, do not fit the criteria... mostly. So let's play a game, which of these three seems like a genuine trend: gradient color swatches, serif typography, accessibility.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Accessibility is the only true trend within that trio. Why? Because your company is not going to be put into jeopardy if you do not adopt gradient color swatches or use serif typography, but it will suffer if it doesn't take into account user accessibility. Remember, trends are macro movements, not subjective, fad design practices.
2. You will have to change it eventually
Expectedly, if you shift with the design trends, you will be shifting a lot. Stand firm on your voice once you find it. Which brings me to my last point:
3. Trends pull away from your story
I'm a firm believer in stealing your identity. Meaning, you have a story to tell, there are things that have influenced you and you can use language, visuals, and other assets from those muses to cohesively fuel your brand. More importantly, you can do so in a way that is impactful and different. Rather than focusing on trends, focus on what you want people to feel. Find things that help foster that feeling and use them in your branding.
Design "trends" are shiny objects. Screw 'em.
Gonna cut straight to the chase on this one: without a potent, different name for your startup, your logo will fall short of its true potential. I'll give you an example using two, famous companies.
Apple. Would the iconic, minimalist icon representing an apple ever exist had it not been for the name? No. That name gave them an advantage over their competitors trapped in acronym oblivion (IBM, HP) and inspired the mark.
Nike. Before the swoosh ever existed, Nike was extremely close to calling itself Blue Ribbon Sports. Compare that to Nike. Blue Ribbon sounds like the name for a freaking mom and pop bakery. There is no way something like the swoosh would have held its weight had it not been for the name it represents.
It seems prevalent that startup founders don't seem to consider the gravitas the name of their company holds. Think about it, when people say "word of mouth" advertising, what do they mean? They mean people repeat the name of the company they are referring to. Can you imagine how many times the name of a company (large or small) is used within six months? Thousands. Maybe even tens of thousands.
It's in your URL, it's on your social pages, it's on name tags, it's on email addresses, it's on all your marketing collateral, and it's on your tongue.
Get your name right before you jump into a logo or risk doing the whole thing over when you finally realize your name sucks. Your designer will thank you.
Here is my favorite book on naming:
Don't Call it That by Eli Altman.