Written: October 2019    |    by Casey Hawes

This article is written from sections of a larger presentation I gave to my agency CEO in late 2019. Below is a summary of thoughts about Landscape, Trends, and Case Studies.

1. Landscape


  • More companies are building their own design capabilities. Are we seeing a a maturity of the discipline within the enterprises?
  • B2C brands have fully embraced the need to prioritize design in their business practice. B2B brands have not gotten there yet.
  • There is more data and understanding of the customer. Companies now value the empathy phase of customers
  • Design companies are being acquired at a faster pace. Since 2004 over 100 design-related companies have been acquired, with > 60% of them acquired since 2015. Corporations are seeing the value in design, and bringing whole design companies in-house.

Designers + Tools

  • The education in this field has exploded. Young designers are gaining senior titles faster. The industry 
is top heavy. Too many Senior level positions open. Diluting titles and confusing the responsibilities between manager and designer.
  • Designers will need more business skills in the future.
Designers have become more focused 
on the ethics of what they do. They realize they can make actual change in the world so there is more value on “designing for a cause/mission”.
  • Tools are diversifying. Adobe still dominates the creative software landscape, but Sketch, Figma, Invision Studio, and more have 
gained steam.


2. Trends


Animated Brand Identity and Kinetic Typography

The energy and personality that motion adds to design has become table stakes. Animation now needs to be considered a foundational element of all modern design projects.


Responsive Logo Systems

Not a new idea in 2019 but something we should consider more often in branding projects.


Vivid Color

  • Chromatic Colorways
  • Gradients
  • Cast Lighting
  • Neon

“I think in the case of giant brands, the thinking may be that the only thing more powerful than owning a single color — like IBM’s blue, or Coke’s red — is to own the entire spectrum. In the digital age, a million colors cost the same as one, so why not?” – Michael Bierut


Mixed Media

Mashups of live action video, design, illustration, and animation are making things more and more unique. Any cross-discipline approach like this will elevate the underlying concept.



“In 2018 we’ve seen a big comeback of the ’90s in fashion. It’s a kind of nostalgia but beneath the surface it’s a signal that people crave differences in expressions. Wildly different expressions. We will see that yearning for expressions evolve in all areas, especially in branding, which pretty much dominates the contemporary visual landscape. We will see designers go through an awakening and go back to a rich history of expressions in the pre-mobile era, and brands will have to learn how to tap into that genius part of designers: the part that is a human being.”

—Natasha Jen, partner, Pentagram



“The often-simplistic love affair of the tech world with clean, simple, and emotionally subdued design is coming to a slow, yet clear end. Such formulaic serene Sameness is no longer a valid risk-averse strategy as more and more companies understand that brand building requires a distinguished aesthetic with an emotional point of view.”


3. Case Studies


Branding Case Study: Dunkin’


Best Campaign Case Study: The Gun Violence History Book


Branding Case Study: NYT The Truth is Worth it


Campaign Case Study: Whopper Detour



Design is a craft that I love and take a lot of pride in. In order to get to be the best design player we can be, we need to push the creative limits to make some noise.