Many brands are going back to basics as consumers seek ways to  to live authentically. They strive for health and wellbeing, being in nature and connecting with others. This is the core inspiration behind the latest trends in visual communication.

depositphotos recently compiled a virtual guide to the most prominent trends in visual content, dubbed ‘Living a new reality’. This guide explains how brands can effectively connect with their target audience in a time where everyone is competing for consumer’s attention.

They can do this by utilising and implementing visual trends in their marketing strategies. But which trends are the most worthy to make note of?

Look no further. media update’s Maryna Steyn is here to dive into the five visual trends your brand can use to beef up its marketing.

1. Optimistic content

Everyone is sick and tired of living in uncertainty about their health, family and job security. Consumers need hope!

Originally titled symbols of optimism, this type of continent gives a positive, cheery feeling in both subject matter and colour pallet. Essentially, this trend means that consumers crave good feelings when interacting with a brand’s visuals. This particular trend also employs friendly, rounded typefaces that look inviting.

Keywords connected to this trend are ‘optimistic’, ‘slow-living’ and ‘fun’. Typically, the images brands will use for this show people smiling or celebrating. The subject of these pictures depicts happy activities that make people feel content and hopeful. 

To use this in your brand’s visual communication, use images in your marketing efforts that show happy people and bright colours. For example, if you are a skincare brand, you can post a picture on social media that shows a smiling man or woman using your product. The colour scheme of the person’s clothes can be bright blue to convey hopefulness.

2. Authenticity 2.0

The media is flooded with fake news and misinformation, which is why it’s no surprise that the desire for realness has become a trend. 

The visual trend of authenticity 2.0 is an echo of the shift in consumer values that occurred in the second half of 2020. This visual category relates to being true to yourself, living a life of truth and appreciating the small joys of reality for what it is. 

You can spot this trend in images that use earthy colour palettes and pictures of family life. Keywords related to this trend also include ‘family’ and ‘expression’.

Brands can communicate sincerity through relevant image choices. It will mostly be used to express your brand’s values in the context of how it will relate to your target audience. For instance, if your business is a coffee shop, you can use images that convey the slow living and simple joys of life.

Find images that show a family enjoying coffee together or that perfect still photo of a steamy cappuccino and use it in your social posts, menu or other marketing media.

3. Wellness first

Escaping from screens, four walls and crowded spaces, this particular visual trend can be seen as a lifestyle trend that reaches further than marketing and social media. 

When putting ‘wellness first’, emphasis is placed on eating healthy, exercise and self-care. Visuals include images of people working out, delicious food and practising a work-life balance. 

This trend can be seen in images that show people hiking or bowls of healthy breakfasts. Related keywords are ‘motivation’, ‘pure’ and ‘innocent’ as these visuals focus on clean aesthetics and a healthy mind, body and soul. 

Brands will find this visual trend most useful if they sell products or offer a service that relates to health and exercise. These may include apparel, exercise equipment, health products, gym memberships, hiking facilities.

It might sound obvious, but let’s take a closer look at an example: If you are a business that offers guided tours and activities, you will benefit most by showing pictures of clients going on the guided hiking trail you offer in the brochure. You would also be able to add similar images to your website instead of showing a photo of a sunset.

4. Solace in nature

After being restricted to homes during the stressful time of the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers are yearning to be free — both mentally and physically. Humans are therefore escaping to nature as a source of inspiration and a place to regain peace of mind, which is why nature is hitting hard as one of the visual trends.

This trend can be identified through the natural tones used when choosing colours, botanical prints and designs, nature photography as well as sounds from Earth. Visuals that create a sense of serenity, freshness and “being one with nature” are ideal to showcase under this trend. Some of the keywords related to this trend  are ‘calming’, ‘botanical’ and ‘captivating’

Brands will use this if they want to communicate to their audience that they are grounded and to create a sense of calmness through interactions. You do not need to be a business that sells organic produce or someone who works with animals in order to use this category of visuals. 

A good example of when your brand can use these visuals is to create a fresh look to your website in order  to bring a sense of calmness to your social posts. You can also include natural elements in combination with your products to convey freedom in your marketing materials.

For example, a brand such as a furniture retailer can simply show natural elements in the same scene as their new range of couches. A few plants, a wooden coffee table and a large painting of a famous mountain range brings nature into the setting as well as keeping it within the context of a product — in this case, a home. 

5. Virtual empathy

This visual trend aims to use computer-mediated communication to build connections between people in a similar way to how we would connect in real life. For example, virtual reality (VR) brings us the opportunity to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and understand one another’s culture, socio-economic standing and backgrounds in a more intimate way than ever before. 

But augmented reality (AR) is much closer to us than VR goggles and constructed scenarios. In fact, Instagram and TikTok filters are examples of AR.  It is also easy to spot how brands, such as Adidas, have already been making use of this. In 2019, the clothing brand worked with Snapchat to create an AR filter for its Ultraboost 2019 product. The filter allowed users to virtually try on the sneakers and see how it would look on their own feet.
To use AR for visual empathy, brands can find creative ways to relate better to audiences through special features on social media. But you also do not need to create a new filter or app in order to use these features in your marketing campaign. If your brand is an eatery that sells ethnic cuisine, for example, you can launch a social media competition.

Here, you could ask your clients to take a picture with their meal and use social media filters, stickers and other editing options on a specific platform like Instagram to show how the dish made them feel.

A customer might then tag your business and share a photo of your restaurant’s chicken korma using a filter with sparkles, a sticker that mentions your brand as well as drawing hearts with the draw tool. To add in the competitive element, the best description would then win a prize, such as a free meal or cash.

How will your brand use these latest trends in its visual communication? Let us know in the comments section below.

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If you’re curious to know more about communication strategies, then check out these Six ways to improve your visual strategy on social media.
*Image courtesy of Canva