9 Visual Trends Impacting Your Branding You Need To Know About


The last few years have seen a lot of change in the marketing world, throwing up new ideas, concepts and trends almost daily. For you, that means a variety of new and exciting ways that you can shine the spotlight on your brand. Here, I highlight nine of the hottest visual trends that you need to know about — and take advantage of for your brand.

Ephemeral visuals

Vine pioneered it. Snapchat perfected it. Instagram took it further. Ephemeral content – that is, temporary videos that ostensibly disappear as fast as they arrived – is one of the most challenging and versatile trends that has appeared on our screens. Catering for our decreased attention span, short and snappy videos force brands to get creative with their content. It means marketers cut down to the nitty-gritty of their brand and what it has to offer, distilling it down into a 10-second video. It’s tough to get right, but when you do, it works wonders.

Take a look at fashion retailer Nordstrom Rack’s Snapchat. The brand is killing it with its stories, showing behind-the-scenes glimpses into their photoshoots. Seeing the clothes in action on relaxed models in an intimate setting creates trust in the brand and a desire for its product.

Branded video insights

More and more brands are expanding their media output, positioning themselves as content creators within their own right. Most big companies create their own videos, not just as marketing tools for a product or service, but as insights into their brand. And their customers? They devour it.

Look no further than Lego, whose ‘Lego Designer’ videos rack up hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube. Providing insights into how a set is designed and created, along with interviews from senior designers, the videos let customers see behind the curtain, which fosters trust with the brand. On top of that, seeing the hard work that goes into set design shows the customer that Lego does what it loves, and loves what it does, and is a product worth buying.

visual trends lego video shot

Image via Lego

User-generated content

Millennials love to use visual content as a means of communicating, and social-savvy brands know it. With the rise of social media coming hand-in-hand with the widespread availability of camera-enabled smartphones, there are hordes of mini-marketers out there just waiting to speak and shout about the brands they love.

Arguably the most famous and successful user-generated content marketing strategy is Coca Cola’s #ShareaCoke campaign. With 235,000 tweets and 998 million impressions in 2014 alone, it was a huge success.

But it’s not just Coke who are crushing UGC either. The fashion and beauty retailer ASOS asks its customers to share their own style with the #AsSeenOnMe hashtag, shouting out the brands and garms they love. In 2014, Starbucks took it to the next level with their White Cup Contest, which saw coffee-lovers across the US and Canada decorate their cups and submit photos to the brand. The winning design was launched as a limited edition Starbucks cup.


The only thing controversial about the popularity of the gif is how it’s pronounced. Gifs are bitesize, appealing, fun, and effective. Just like ephemeral content, they’re short and snappy, meaning brands have to get creative to grab their audience. It’s been found that people only remember 20% of the text they read without visual content, so an emphasis on smart and sparky visuals is crucial.

With so many millennials using gifs and emojis (more on those later) to communicate, it’s no wonder brands are turning to them in their marketing efforts. Ben and Jerry’s used a tantalizing gif of their Brrr-ito being assembled to hook in ice cream fans everywhere. 🤤

visual trends example gif

Image via Giphy


Winky face 😉 Heart eyes 😍 One hundred 💯

That’s me telling you that emojis are one of the hottest and most widely used visuals in marketing across all brands of the moment. Originally consisting of 720 unique symbols, there are now over 2,666 emojis and counting, depicting everything from parties to pizza. Astonished face 😲

They’re so massive that Hillary Clinton, following in the steps of Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga, launched her own themed emoji collection during her 2016 presidential campaign. Renowned brands to jump on the emoji train include Disney, Domino’s Pizza and even Durex. Always practice safe emojis, guys.

Pop culture

Social media has brought pop culture even closer to the fore, with events such as Katy Perry’s Left Shark, fidget spinners, and the infamous Dress becoming viral internet sensations within hours. This trend has seen smart brands using pop culture as a prism through which they can engage with consumers.

Brands like Clorox and Axe used the “Damn, Daniel” viral sensation cleverly in their social marketing, and other companies have used everything from Star Wars to Game of Thrones with similar efficacy.

However, the key to doing pop culture right is to be reactive. Remember when the power cut out during the 2013 Super Bowl? Within minutes of the blackout, Oreo posted their famous “dunk in the dark” tweet. It was a marketing move executed perfectly.

Virtual reality

No longer the domain of sci-fi and fiction, virtual reality is changing the way we live. From gaming and entertainment to healthcare and education, VR is transforming our world. And for marketing, it’s no different. More and more brands are using virtual reality to showcase their company and their product.

Take TOMS shoes. They have developed a VR chair, based in their California store, which allows customers to experience firsthand (sort of) their shoe donation scheme in Central America. Such innovation allows audiences to see the great work their brand is doing, engendering consumer trust and authenticity in a wholly immersive way. As the technology develops, we can expect to see VR applied in more creative and innovative ways.

visual trends virtual reality

Image via TOMS

Democracy and micro-businesses

Visual marketing has become increasingly democratic. With a range of images available on free photo sites, free video editors available to download and design tools like Canva and Visme (you can review a comparison of these tools here), the ability to create exceptional visual content and take advantage of visual trends is open to all. And don’t we know it!

Some of the best visual content is not being created by ad agencies with huge budgets, but by local ‘mom and pop’ style businesses who are embracing the new democratic age of visual content.

It just goes to show how important authenticity is when it comes to creating successful content. If you have a good story — go and tell it.

Facebook Live

Small and large businesses alike are employing Facebook Live in their marketing efforts, with the real-time quality creating a shared intimacy between broadcaster and viewer.

Audiences can join brands like Kohl’s hosting live workouts, or go on walks with the ASPCA as they take their adoptable pups out onto the streets.

Easy to make and fun to watch, Facebook Live is a simple way to let your customers experience your brand stories in real-time.

visual trends facebook live visual trends facebook live aspca example

2018 offers you a multitude of ways to showcase your brand on social media and beyond. Visual content is king when it comes to marketing, and implementing gifs, emojis, live videos and other visual trends will only make your brand more engaging and authentic to your customer. Embrace what’s on offer, and get creative! Your ambition and imagination will go a long way towards boosting your brand.

Guest author: Victoria Greene, Victoria Ecommerce

Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. She has a drive for helping people get the best return on their online businesses.

For all the latest on developments in ecommerce, marketing, and design, check out her blog, Victoria Ecommerce.

Some extra tips from the Rebrandly team:

  • Add branded links to your images:
    If you’re selling products that people might search for in Google image search, or if you’re worried your images will be taken out of the context, it’s a good idea to add branded links to them. This will help drive traffic back to your website.
  • Edit the destination URL of your Facebook live promotions:
    Coming up to a Facebook live event, you’ll do a lot of promotion across various channels. Usually, you’ll post and tweet to encourage followers to join you at a specific time and link to your company Facebook page. But once you’ve gone live, you’ll have a video that you can link to. If you use a specific branded link to promote your event, you can then edit the destination URL so anyone who clicks on a promotion that was posted in the lead up to the event will be brought directly to the video.
  • Create a strong CTA for videos:
    Every piece of marketing should include a call to action. If you want to drive traffic somewhere other than your landing page, include a branded link. At the end of a video, direct people to a relevant page on your site using a memorable and on-brand short link. This is useful if viewers view your video on YouTube, social media, or another third party site. And if you use a unique link for every video, you can also analyze how much traffic each one drives.
  • Drive traffic from Instagram:
    You cannot place inline links in an Instagram post, but by including a memorable branded link that is easy to type you’ll still drive traffic to your site. One marketer using vanity URLs found traffic from Instagram is 10 to 20 times higher than when he uses a full-length URL.

Further Reading:

This Article is About:

  • Visual trends for 2018
  • Visual branding
  • Building a visual brand identity
  • Visual trends impacting your brand

Photo in main image by Kipras Štreimikis via Unsplash



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