Design trends in business have a lot of inspirations. Some come from the colors we see, events we experience, and people we meet. Other times, the inspiration can be a lifestyle or a movement that’s lived out by many—one of which is the minimalism movement.
Minimalism has been the driving force for a lot of the latest design trends today; we see it when brands decide to forgo colorful designs and complicated shapes, choosing instead to go for simple, direct, and easily understood stylistic choices.
Less is More
Minimalism has been a trending lifestyle choice for the past few years, especially as people are choosing to declutter and live simpler. There’s a lot of ways to describe minimalism. For some, minimalism is about living with less things than the average person, choosing to stick to only their bare necessities such as only a few clothes or opting not to buy a car. For others, minimalism means to never want again. However, whatever one’s interpretation of minimalism may be, the core of minimalism remains the same: to live with intent and to focus only on the necessities, removing or distancing ourselves from what we consider unnecessary or distractions.
However, minimalism isn’t anything new; minimalism, in general, can be seen in almost everything around us. Brtiannica described minimalist art by their “extreme simplicity of form and a literal, objective approach.” The minimalist movement then was a culmination of artists’ reactions against the “noise” of modern art as they introduced more simpler, direct expressions. In America, this appeared in works of art like paintings and sculptures as early as 1913 before really gaining traction worldwide during the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. However, some sources believe that the concept came to be even before that, going back as far as the 1800s. Along the way, the concept of minimalism also grew applicable to architectural designs, and now it has become a lifestyle for many.
Die Fahne Hoch! by Frank Stella (1959) from The Artling
In design, minimalism has begun to also gain attention as the go-to style choice for many. Minimalist designs, following the “less is more” mantra, are done in such a way that they only represent what is essential; they trade off flashy designs for more simple, less colorful ones, bringing focus instead only to what needs to be noticed.
Focus on the focus
In marketing, similar to the lifestyle, minimalistic marketing is an approach where marketers should work on accomplishing their ultimate marketing objective by removing unnecessary practices and elements. Their main concern should be to provide more information to people without overloading and without straying away from their main goals and needs.
“Neighbors” campaign by FedEx showing how they will bring your package around the world. Photo from D&AD
Taking this into account, minimalism has also been implemented in one’s visual marketing and branding schemes such as product design and posters. Design-wise, minimalism encourages businesses to focus on the more important things: content. What do they offer? What are they known for? The answer to those questions should be the primary force of their design, and not necessarily what fits their aesthetic the most. With minimalism, it’s about what you want to say or deliver, and how you can do so in a clear, clean, and concise manner, then making a design that works with the least amount of elements necessary.
Minimalist designs in business today are simple in nature and often focused on using clean typography and using space. Aside from these, such designs are also usually composed of only two to three colors or shades and a dominant visual. Minimalist designs also place a heavy importance on contrast, whether it be through the font styles (serif paired with sans serif, or bold texts paired with normal texts), the placement of the dominant visual, or the colors picked out.
Glossier products from Unsplash
Minimalistic designs are also very timeless; as they only seek to provide what’s essential, they can always be relevant to any time period’s trends. They are also easier for most people to absorb through as it cuts away any unnecessary clutter not only visually but in terms of content as well.
Apple products from Unsplash
As minimalism promotes and prioritizes content and delivering it directly, having a minimalist point of view in marketing, especially with design, can help better endorse your brand or products.
Utilizing minimalist designs can also further improve a brand’s connection with their consumers. In an article, Katie Conovitz, founder and CEO of twelveNYC, a branding and product development company that’s worked with many beauty brands internationally, says that brands should not be too focused on pushing multiple elements into one design; they should strive to lessen the “noise” and instead present a “clear, intentional narrative” that will allow for more quicker recognition. When designing, brands should work with the intent to remain consistent and to be direct to their consumers, thus eliminating the need for “trivial and senseless branding.”
Before you try it
Minimalism sounds pretty ideal: after all, it just wants you to focus on content, which should be easy enough; it would be understandable to think that everyone should go for it. However, some issues with minimalism hold people back from adopting the lifestyle and the design trend.
One such issue is since minimalism is becoming a trend, people tend to rebrand and redesign their brands and products in order to keep up with the times. There’s nothing really wrong with this practice, but for some, doing so ruins the already-okay aesthetic the brand has. If a certain logo, design, or style works just fine the way it is, there should be no need to change it. Some also tend to jump on the bandwagon without considering their values as a brand and their services as a company, thus sometimes causing disconnect between their brand and their visuals. One brand that redesigned their logo was Gap in 2010; however, after customers complained about their dislike for the logo, Gap eventually changed it back.
Gap old logo (left), their rebranding (right) before they went back to their old logo. Photo from BBC.
There’s also the ever-changing description of minimalism to consider. Not everyone has the same standards of minimalism; what can be considered a minimalist design by one person may not be the same for another. This can prove to be a challenge to designers as they have to consider their target audiences, as well as how to efficiently send out their message as direct and as clear as possible.
Something to consider
Even so minimalism is something anyone can learn from. Minimalism is slowly taking over many aspects of our lives. If you’re a designer working in marketing, minimalism is something worth exploring. When it comes down to it, making use of the core concept of minimalism, which is prioritizing your content and core message and getting it across as simple and efficient as possible, is something all brands can learn to do.
Sometimes, we have to stop and think about how more isn’t necessarily better. Sometimes, enough is better, said Paul Jarvis, a designer who’s worked with brands using mostly simple designs. As said earlier, minimalism can challenge a brand’s creativity, but if done right, it could change how one’s business operates. Jarvis echoes this and says businesses employing minimalistic design styles or marketing schemes aren’t great because of their tools, or their ability to be minimalistic; instead, they’re great because they know how to utilize minimalism to fit their businesses’ needs.
Visual by: Trisha Tan