Graphic Design For Small Business Branding Trends

graphic design small business branding trends logo tips photography guide

‘Determine who you are and what your brand is, and what you're not. The rest of it is just a lot of noise.’ 
– Geoffrey Zakarian, Celebrity Chef & Restaurateur 

Small business owners that pay attention to graphic design and how it relates to branding find themselves in a bit of a paradox. To Chef Zakarian’s point, your brand is your rock. Branding is your mainstay. When you change your brand, you lose momentum, confuse your customers and risk confusing yourself. At best, you risk being seen as fickle and unreliable. At worst, you may not be seen at all. 

On the other hand, in the world of branding and design, if you ignore the dynamics of your industry, you will be left behind. Customers may view you as out-of-touch or obsolete. Or… (and here it is again) they will not view you at all. 

Like everything in our world, branding trends are evolving at an increasingly rapid rate. Luckily for you, so is your ability to update yourself on what’s out there. Let’s start with six important graphic design trends to pay attention to for your small business. 

Dynamic Logos 

Conventional wisdom is simple: do not change your logo. McDonalds has his Golden Arches. Starbucks has its Green Mermaid. Nike has her Swoosh. She’s not trading it in for the ‘Nike Plus Sign’ anytime soon. However, we aren’t talking about just billboards and print magazines anymore. The majority of marketing occurs in the digital world. Because of this, sizing your logo isn’t enough. Dynamic logos are a must. 

At minimum, you should develop print and digital versions of your logo. You should also have a ‘reversed out’ or ‘negative’ version of your logo. Within the digital realm, you should have orientations for viewing on desktop, tablet and mobile; robust vs. stripped down; and horizontal vs. vertical. 

Small Business Credit Card Personalization 

After you get your logo pretty well squared away, consider what to put it on. One of the best applications for your logo is your Small Business Credit Card. Along with exposure, this lends a sense of authenticity and permanence to your transactions. You seem established. 

Not all credit cards will let you personalize and some have restrictions. For example, Chase only gives you a relatively limited range of pre-set options, whereas a company like Capital One will let you put almost anything on your credit card. 


Personally, I think Fonts exist in a bizarre and confusing world. I somehow can’t wrap my head around proprietary styles of type. However, they are real and they are a really large part of design. In case you weren’t aware, a ‘Serif’ is a slight projection finishing off a stroke of a letter in certain typefaces. Until recently, most popular fonts didn’t use them (Sans Serif), but they are making a come-back in a big, stylized way. 

Because they make body copy (paragraphs) look pretty congested, they are still not favored for big blocks of text. However, they are growing in popularity for headers, titles and logos and can be maximized with an image editor

Open Composition 

Traditional designs were bound by frames. Simply put, open composition refers to unframed design space. This is similar to what printers call a ‘full bleed’ – a design where the color runs all the way to the edge of the paper. In print media, this is impossible to achieve without expensive printing equipment (your home printer requires some sort of margin) so this style has always been associated with a professional look. 

In digital media, advanced screen technology has elicited a resurgence of this trend… and taken it a step further. Now that most things scroll, the effect of open composition can be truly breathtaking. 

Proactive Negative Space 

A design technique that fits very neatly with open composition is the utilization of negative space. Being proactive with negative space refers to using the area around the primary image very intentionally. If you have ever enjoyed optical illusions or the drawings of M.C. Escher, you have experienced this effect. It can be applied to fully utilize all available room for advertising and to add value for attentive viewers. 

Authentic Photography 

The rise in the use of Authentic Photography for graphic design is largely reactionary. 

For some time now, Stock Photography (iStock, Adobe Stock, Shutterstock) has been a big business. Images from those giant, searchable archives (plus illegal rip-offs) have dominated marketing. 

Because of the ubiquity of these images, people have ceased to react positively to them just because they are technically beautiful photographs. That just doesn't cut it these days for industry disruptors and more discerning website visitors or customers. Not only do they come across as less than genuine, they appear in ads for multiple companies, muddying the branding. In response, companies have started to take their own photography and also to use photos that looks slightly amateurish. 

Travel Photos 

Destination photography is another big area that adds appeal to advertising. A variation on the theme of authentic photographs, people are attracted to images that convey a sense of worldliness. If you can work the travel expenses into your budget, authentic travel photography could be a big boom to your brand. 

Design That Stands Off The Page 

Grabbing attention is a tricky business. If you are not careful, your design can present as gawdy and obnoxious. With that in mind, it is still worth exploring both 3D and Isometric designs – two styles that are trending for small businesses. 

3-D Text & Images 

With so much online content, your opportunity to grab viewers’ attention can be alarmingly brief. This is where 3-D text and images come in. However, a degree of subtly can prevent potential customers from feeling intruded upon by your content. The key is to integrate the 3-D elements into the rest of the design. If you’re not familiar with this, it may be worth your while to bring on a professional graphic designer for initial work. 

Isometric Designs 

Isometric designs are difficult to explain in text, but they are very recognizable. Basically, isometric designs are flat images that give the faint impression of being 3-dimensional. They are a sequence of stacked layers that combine the simplicity of 2-D with the attention-grab of 3-D. They have become very popular for app icons and other designs intended for viewing on small screens. Not only do isometric designs have a homey, nostalgic appeal, the images are a much smaller file size, allowing content to load without interruption. 

The Next Steps In Your Graphic Design 

So. Where does that leave us for designing business images? If you are an astute and hardworking small business owner, it leaves you with a homework assignment: understand enough about graphic design and branding trends to be dangerous. Commit to your design. And then commit to continuously reevaluating it. 

I hope you enjoyed this article about graphic design for your small business and the big branding trends for this year and beyond.

Interested in reading more articles about design and photography? 

Read My Blog Posts: 

- All About Real Estate Photography And Videography

- What To Know About Fonts And Design

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