gold in graphic design and branding

Gold is timeless for branding, and the modern-day application of it is definitely not your grandma’s gaudy gold. We’ve consistently seen the rise of this trend over the years, and frankly, it’s not going anywhere. From delicate accents to elevate a brand’s sophistication to bold eye-catching metallics front and center, gold takes the cake. This versatile trend isn’t the easiest to implement, so Grandma, put your spectacles on and read carefully!

Gold, Not Yellow

Let’s start with the biggest pain point designers face – gold doesn’t mean yellow. Achieving gold in your branding isn’t an easy task, and we highly recommend professionals (ahem, nice to meet you) to take on this challenge. When looking through different examples of gold in branding, you’ll likely notice the heavy presence of photography, images and textures used. Recreating gold in design can easily turn flat and simply appear yellow, with no hint of metallic. If you’re desperate to try it yourself, we’ve found that a web-friendly version of gold can be achieved using the hex code #D4AF37 or RGB value of 212, 175, 55. You can check out some hex code examples here.

Read the Room

While we love to rave about the beauty of gold in design, it has to speak to your audience to work well. Gold has often been a signifier of wealth and extravagance, glamour and beauty, even optimism. Just as all of these attributes can be inspirational and eye-catching, if overdone, they can quickly be internalized as greedy, excessive, and materialistic. Finding that sweet middle ground is likely where you want to be. Particularly with the state of the world today – using gold in an understated and delicate fashion will likely land the best, but of course, it all depends on your audience.

 

example of gold in branding

Less is More

Using gold sparingly might be the single best advice we can give. An overuse of gold can actually cheapen the look of the design, and ultimately your brand. Pairing delicate lines of gold with muted and modern palettes and graphics will give a timeless and luxurious feel, without taking things too over the top. A small dose of gold is a fantastic way to give your products a little extra-something-something (you know what we mean). One of our favourite examples of branding and packaging we created for a client is The Haven Project. You can read more about the luxury & modern branding we did here.

What Goes with Gold?

It’s not just a question for your wardrobe, but understanding how to mix and match gold is imperative to graphic design. First and foremost, it depends on what type of colour scheme will guide your project. Here are some examples:

  • Complementary – This type of colour scheme would use the complementary colours of gold: blues & purple blues, greens & violets. These are what we would commonly refer to as jewel tones, a highly popular colour combination with gold.
  • Monochromatic – Using a monochromatic gold colour scheme can use the entire range of pale gold to dark, antique gold to create an entirely gold colour palette.
  • Duochromatic – An extremely common colour scheme with gold is duotones, utilizing gold and a secondary, muted colour such as grey.
  • Triadic – A triadic gold colour scheme includes red and blue, as they are equidistant from gold on a modern colour wheel.

 

If gold speaks to your brand, but you don’t want to get into the intricacies of designing it – let us do the leg work! You can book your hour-long, complimentary consultation here

shape up with geometric designs

Geometric designs have been at the forefront of design trends this year and have the staying power to be around for years to come. The clean appearance of geometric shapes, coupled with the subconscious psychology of shapes, creates impactful graphic designs that connect with clients. To help you understand and implement this design trend in your branding, we’ll give you insight into the importance of the organization and the psychology behind the shapes. As with any design trend, it only works for your brand if it connects with your target audience!

Organization of Shapes

First and foremost, we want to start with the organization of shapes in your graphic design. While sometimes the geometric shapes will be the focal point of your design, oftentimes they are supporting figures to ensure viewers’ eyes are directed to the focal point of the graphic. Whether you need to draw attention to a photo, brand name or information, using a smart assembly of geometric shapes will help take the viewer’s eyes on a journey to what’s most important. The use of these shapes helps add order and visual structure to your brand – providing consistency and clarity to what your brand embodies.

Strength of Square

Adding squares (or any shapes for that matter) to your brand’s logo doesn’t simply change the way the logo looks, but how it’s perceived. Squares are the ultimate geometric shape if your brand needs to convey reliability and strength. The connected, strong lines portray the sense of stability and structure – ideal if your brand is offering a product that needs to be perceived as professional, well-established, and secure. A perfect example of a widely recognized square logo is American Express, communicating trustworthiness with an added opulence from the gradient of the blue background colour.

Trajectory of Triangle

Triangles are energetic and dynamic shapes that portray motion and direction. While circles and squares are more straightforward in their meaning, triangles offer flexibility with the ability to change the orientation of them in your logo. Triangles pointed upwards typically portray power, while inverted, they connect with motion. Triangles also have the ability to exude a mystical feeling. For example, think of the ancient insignias of the Celtic Druids or Illuminati. To be such a simple geometric shape, the breadth of triangles is quite fascinating. Some well-known brands are Chevron & Delta, using triangles to display innovation, stability, and direction.

Completion of Circle

Circles are one of the most widely used geometric shapes in logos and branding – and for good reason! Circles signify unity, completion, stability and wholeness. The circle also has a strong connection with nature, as it’s the natural shape of Earth, making it the ideal geometric shape for eco-conscious brands. The circle isn’t confined to only natural or earthy brands, as we said, it’s ideal if you need to evoke a sense of stability with your customer. One of the longest-standing and widely recognized brands to use a circular logo is BMW. Using this logo for over 100 years is the definition of stability!

 

Love the idea of this, but not sure how to implement it into your own branding? Get in touch with us today and book your free consultation

Duotone colour palette for branding

Duotone and Colour Monochromatic designs have become more and more popular in recent years, and we’re loving the resurgence of this throwback. This style of branding is creative, eye-catching, and customers love it. But does it fit your brand? It’s more versatile than you may think, so if you’re looking for a style that creates impact – read on.

Futuristic

If your brand is edgy, forward-thinking, and creative, duotones specifically might be your answer. The best and most common example we can point to is the branding done by Spotify. Their duotones create eye-catching and visually stunning graphics for artist picks and playlists. Brighter, more neon colours for high-energy playlists, and cooler, calming colours for mellow beats. The colour truly sets the mood.

Gradients

Whether you’re going strictly monochromatic or using a duotone format, the use of gradients allows you to create a sophisticated and soothing effect with these palettes. This is ideal for natural brands aiming to portray a calming effect with greens, blues, or yellows. The simple colour palette, combined with the soothing visual of gradients, creates a sense of harmony and is ideal for brands who want to portray this as a key part of their brand identity.

Simplicity

A simple palette means more time to spend on illustrations and complex graphics. The duo and monotone trend has partly been influenced by the desire to have more complex graphics in branding and design. Coupling highly detailed illustrations with a complicated colour palette can be overwhelming for the viewer. Using duo or monotone colours combined with intricate graphics is easier for the viewer to digest what they’re seeing. For the designer, this provides more time to spend on the illustration and less time on the palette. A win-win situation if you ask us!

Eye Catching

If you’re going for the wow factor – duotone and colour monochromatic palettes are certainly eye-catching. The simple palette creates a striking and strong presence for viewers. So whether you’re looking to create a futurist and edgy identity, or represent a natural and earthy brand, duotones and colour monochromatic can work in your favour.

 

Curious if your business can benefit from incorporating duotones into your brand strategy? Book a consultation at Cloud9 Marketing today!

Contemporary Boho is a design trend that’s become popular over the years and made its way into the top design trends of 2021, but where did it come from and how is it defined? Those are some of the questions we will address today in our aim to sum up a very diverse and ethereal design trend.

Origin Story

Bohemianism originated as a countercultural movement in the early 19th century in England. This movement was a way to describe marginalized artists, poets, and others living life away from mainstream standards. At that point in time, it was a term used to describe those who rejected cultural norms. Fast forward to the 1990s, and the term was more widely used to not only describe a way of life but a stylistic trend. This interior design and fashion trend focused on natural elements such as plants, flowers, animals, and patterns inspired by geodes. Bohemianism is still a way of life for those with wandering spirits, but the trend has manifested itself in the world of graphic design, branding, and web design with a contemporary twist.

Earthly Elements

Contemporary Boho most definitely pulls inspiration from nature. The colour palettes, textures, patterns, and common elements all originate from natural elements. An ever-present element of  Contemporary Boho designs is botanical motifs. Flowers, plants and vines create intricate backdrops or focal points of the ornate graphic designs. Other early elements make less frequent appearances, such as gemstones, horns, antlers, arrows, and floral wreaths. The use of watercolours is commonly used to soften the aesthetics of some of these elements.

Natural Colours

The colour palette of contemporary boho varies – but is true that it’s almost always inspired by nature. Metallic themes are popular, utilizing hues of gold, silver, and bronze. Jewel tones are useful when you want to add a pop of colour to graphics, such as reds, turquoise, greens, and blues. Natural, warm tones like beiges, yellows, and oranges are generally used for a calming backdrop.

Modern Twist

But where does the contemporary come in? While bohemian style is known for opulence and excess, in current graphic design, the trend is dialled back a bit – accented with clean, modern lines, fonts, and empty space. The combination of the flowery excess of the bohemian style with modern touches can result in visually stunning and appealing graphics.

 

Does your brand embody the vibe of contemporary boho?  Find out how we can help your branding by booking a consultation with Cloud9 Marketing today!

"Design for Change" by Virginia-Rae Choquette

Socially Conscious Design has been one of the most powerful design trends in recent years. This design trend focuses on showing solidarity and support for social, environmental, and justice issues through graphic design. Essentially, it is artists using their talent and voice to promote the betterment of society. The need for social and environmental change has reached a tipping point, and creators and brands have stepped up to the plate to show support and create awareness. There are some key attributes that are important when designing for change, but let’s start with possibly the most important of them all.

Authentic & Representative

Authenticity is the underlying attribute that must be present in the design and the promotion for socially conscious design. Some of the largest protests in the world have been powered by social media, and that wouldn’t have happened if the messaging was inauthentic or misplaced. Authenticity not only means being true to oneself but the person identified. It’s important that when designing for change, a designer takes their own preferences out of the situation, and designs with the community’s voice in mind. This might mean a fact-finding mission of gathering feedback, research, and learning cultural norms about the community or cause you to wish to support and design with this top of mind.

Informative

Design for Change generally always has an element of information embedded in it. Whether it’s in the actual graphic, or a description in a social media post explaining facts related to the design, it’s there. In socially conscious design, it’s common to see info-graphs or bold, informative text in graphics. It’s crucial to convey messaging when trying to inform people about social justice issues, particularly when the messaging is spreading the word about a march or protest. A great example is the graphic below by Liza Donovan, created for the Women’s March on Washington. The Women’s March on January 21, 2017, resulted in over 7 million protesters worldwide. This was arguably one of the most successful protests in history, organized and spread through social media.

 

“Hear Our Voice” by Liza Donovan, created for the Women’s March on Washington.

“Hear Our Voice” by Liza Donovan, created for the Women’s March on Washington.

Evoke Emotion

“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.” This quote by designer and author Robert L. Peters is commonly quoted, but for good reason. He said this during a speech, and to put it into context, he was addressing the idea of trying to design a better world for future generations. But design won’t have an epic impact unless it is bold, evokes emotion, and genuinely creates a pause for reflection and thought. Finding creative ways to elicit an emotional response is crucial to the design process. Whether the message is hopeful or heartwrenching, make sure it connects with the audience powerfully and authentically.

Colours & Typography

Colours and typography do vary from cause to cause, but generally speaking, they are both bold and attention-grabbing. Again, using the above example of the Women’s March poster, if you were to look at a collection of their posters, you would see that the colour pallet and typography are similar across all graphics. While it might not be common to view social justice causes as brands, the organizations and their designers are savvy enough to know there should be consistency across messaging, typography and colour pallets. Their causes are crucially important to them and the people they represent, so having an impactful and consistent design is vital for the recognition of their causes.

 

We hope this gave you insight into the powerful world of Socially Conscious Design. For more design inspiration, check out more of our blog for the latest design and marketing trends. 

Photo of the ceiling at the Audain Art Museum in Black and White.

Monochromatic Minimalism has been on the rise in the past few years as one of the top design trends. While this style of graphic design isn’t new, over 60 years in the making, we’re seeing huge growth in its presence today. The increased use of monochromatic minimalism in design is possibly a reflection of what users are desiring more in their own lives: simplicity. 

But just because this theme exudes simplicity, doesn’t mean it’s simple to implement. Several key factors must be considered if a less-is-more approach is going to work for your business. 

Less is More 

Ever heard the quote “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention”? While the origin of this quote wasn’t directed towards UX and UI, it provides a concise summary of the monochromatic minimalistic design theory: less is more. With well-designed minimalist websites, you’ll notice features and elements on the pages are stripped-down, keeping only what is necessary. Users are provided with only the essential information needed to inform and direct, nothing more. Eliminating anything that doesn’t support the core functionality or messaging of the website results in clean, clear communication with your user. It’s the true opposite of information overload.

Monochromatic Colour Palette 

If a sense of calm washes over you when thinking of a monochromatic colour palette, you’re not alone. Clashing, bold colour palettes of the early 2000s have found their way out of vogue, and clean, greyscale tones have made their way to the forefront. Monochromatic colour palettes generally refer to background colours, icons, and navigational elements, not necessarily photos on the website. Using black and white photos in conjunction with the monochromatic palette is entirely up to you and the theme you wish to create. The benefit of a greyscale palette for icons ensures content isn’t upstaged and users have an easier time processing what’s served up on screen.  

Black and White photo of the sun dropping behind trees in whistler.

Flat Design

If you were to sample hundreds of minimalist websites, you will most likely see the majority utilized flat design in textures, icons, or graphics in the UI. This breaks from the traditional trend of designers using shadows, textures, and other techniques to make elements look 3D or lifelike. Flat design is a key component to minimalist UI design, but it has to be done well. It’s crucial that the interface still feels like a space a user can interact with, making sure it’s apparent where they need to engage on your website.   

Embrace the Space 

Embracing the negative (or white) space in a minimalist design is key. This attribute is one of the defining characteristics of monochromatic minimalism. Negative space is a tactic to direct the attention and eyes of the customer to where it matters. The abundance of white space allows users to see the important page aspects more clearly and therefore, easier to digest. This is similar to the concept of less-is-more, but it’s important to highlight the importance of white space as an entirely separate component to minimalist websites.

Maintain Balance  

As true with any graphic or web design, maintaining balance is key to your design. This golden rule doesn’t disappear when designing a minimalist site, so make sure this rule guides you when integrating all of the above key components of a monochromatic minimalist design.

 

Curious if your business can benefit from incorporating monochromatic minimalism into your brand strategy?  Book a consultation at Cloud9 Marketing today!

 

bringing the outside in with natural design

Natural design originally made its way into web design via eco-conscious brands. However, it has made its way into the top trends of 2021 since growing in popularity across different industries. The natural imagery, calming colours, and soothing fonts aren’t just for eco-friendly companies anymore. Due to the pandemic, the past year resulted in more of us spending more time indoors and on screens. It’s no wonder we wanted a more soothing and natural user experience online, bringing the outside in. 

Graphics

One of the key elements of natural design is the presence of natural landscapes in graphics. Actual landscape photographs, hand-drawn mountains, and lifelike foliage are key attributes of graphics. This type of imagery projects a whimsical, yet realistic (or sometimes abstract) vision of what we see when looking at nature. Natural themes also tend to utilize nature-inspired textures to add depth to graphics. Using the grain of wood, tree bark, and veins of leaves are great ways to accomplish this. All of these elements are inspired by nature, which is what we all need a little more of, right?

Colours

The outside world provides a rich and deep range of colours that inspire the natural design theme. The colour palette of natural design primarily focuses on earth tone colour schemes. Some of the common colours used are softer greens, muted turquoise, and warmer colours like faded pinks and oranges. The softness of whites, beiges, and grays tie it all together. If you’re looking to incorporate natural colourways into your design, a good rule of thumb is asking yourself if you see it in nature. 

Fonts

The fonts that accompany natural themes tend to be ones described as organic, soft, simple, and in their own way, powerful. Similar to the traits of graphics used in natural design, you’ll generally see a lot of fonts that appear hand-drawn. Some of the fonts will go as far as to take on the appearance of leaves, vines, or the texture of tree bark, actually using natural elements to make up the composition of the font. These highly stylized fonts will generally be accompanied by simple, clean fonts. 

Who’s Using Natural Design?

While natural design was originally used by eco-conscious brands, this has greatly expanded over the years. Other industries using this style are health-conscious brands, self-improvement, and sustainable fashion. However, it has reached beyond the scope of health, and industries that are traditionally perceived as high-stress are taking on a natural theme.  For example, real estate and financial companies use natural design as a way to counter stress and create a soothing online experience for their customers. What better way to get your customers to sit down and stay awhile on your site than create a calming visual experience for them? 

 

Curious if your business can benefit from incorporating natural design into your brand strategy?  Book a consultation at Cloud9 Marketing today!

Example of dark mode user interface

Dark mode started to take off in 2019 and has grown to be adopted by most operating systems, plugins, apps, some websites and even made its way into print. 

But why has it taken the UX and UI worlds by storm? Well besides the inherent cool factor of being dark and moody, fonts and elements stand out significantly more on a dark background, increasing the accessibility for sight-challenged people. While these are good enough reasons alone, there are a few more that should grab your attention.   

Cheers to Your Health

With the vast amount of time we spend on screens, the option to give your eyes a break is a coveted concept. Bright screens create stress and strain on eyes that can result in dry, tired eyes and lead to a suppressed production of melatonin, affecting sleep. Dark mode can alleviate these issues by reducing the total amount of white light your eyes process over the course of a day. Particularly in darker environments, dark mode is more relaxing on the eyes.  

Extend Your Battery Life

Using dark mode on devices significantly increases battery life. Depending on what level of brightness your screen is at, you can save between 15% and 60% of your battery compared to screens viewed in bright white. While it’s nice to go further between charges, this can be extremely useful in emergency situations when your phone is your lifeline.  

Captivate Your Market

For the same reasons Dark Mode increases accessibility for sight-challenged people, the contrast of fonts and elements on a dark background are attention-grabbing for any user. But we all know it’s not just about grabbing attention, it’s holding it as well. Some research has shown that utilizing a dark theme increases the length of user engagement, meaning more interaction with your site. This makes dark mode a potentially excellent tool to captivate the attention of prospective users. 

Top Tips for Dark Mode

Here are some of our top tips when it comes to incorporating dark mode:

  • Avoid Pure Black – First and foremost, be sure to avoid pure black as the primary surface colour. A dark grey, such as colour code #121212,  is easier on the eyes.
  • Bold Doesn’t Mean Bright – Avoid the halo effect of pure white text on a black background by using a darker white font. This results in greater contrast and a more bold appearance.
  • Don’t Over Saturate – When it comes to the colour saturation of text and graphics, dial it down when working with a darker background. The most visually pleasing colour range is between 200 and 50. 

 

Curious if your business can benefit from incorporating dark mode into your brand strategy?  Book a consultation at Cloud9 Marketing today! 

planner and coffee cup - SMART goals

Goal setting is an important aspect of marketing, and really in all aspects of your life.  At Cloud9 Marketing, we set our bars pretty high. We are goal setters not only for ourselves but for our clients. But we aren’t just spontaneously and carelessly going about making wishes and hoping they come true. No, there is a method to our madness!

In order to help guide our goal setting, we use the SMART method. The SMART method of goal setting is a method used by many businesses and people in order to help them stay focused and increase the chances of success in obtaining their goals. 

Although this method will not guarantee success in achieving your goals, it will definitely make the process of goal setting more efficient and give you a sense of direction.

S – Specific

Avoid making generalized goals and keep them specific to you and your brand. Answering the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When and Why) will tailor your goal to match the needs of your business. 

M – Measurable

How do you know if you’ve been successful if you haven’t predetermined what success is? Setting tangible indicators of success will allow you to track your progress and let you know whether or not you have achieved your goal. 

Lucky for us in the digital marketing world, there are many useful tools and platforms which provide us with detailed analytics and metrics of our webpages, advertising efforts, social media profiles and more. Read more on tracking website metrics here.

A – Achievable

Of course, it’s great to set the bar high, but avoid setting it TOO high. If your goal isn’t achievable, then you’ve ultimately set yourself up for failure. It’s important to look at where your business stands currently and understand where to set realistic benchmarks. An Important question to ask would be: do you have the resources and abilities to achieve these goals? 

R – Relevant

When setting goals, it’s important to ensure that they are relevant to your ultimate business objectives. If your ultimate goal is to increase in-store sales, perhaps it’s not the best idea to spend your annual marketing budget on a campaign to increase traffic to an e-commerce store. It’s essential to look at the big picture and create a plan and goals that are relevant.

T – Timely

Setting timelines is essential when setting goals because it creates a sense of urgency and pushes you to start working towards achieving success. If you don’t set a start and finish date, your goal is just going to sit in limbo like those tasks that have been on your personal to-do list for the last two years…(obviously not speaking from personal experience).

The next time you are setting marketing goals for your business, try the SMART goals method. If you need even further guidance with your marketing initiatives and strategies, connect with us for a free consultation

If you own a business or are building a brand, you may be questioning the importance of social media marketing. You may be asking yourself: Does your business need to be on social media? Does social media marketing really work? The simple answer is, ABSOLUTELY!

As of May 2019, there are almost 3.5 billion active social media users worldwide with Facebook leading the pack at just over 2.3 billion users. The average person spends over 2 hours a day on social media.

Today’s consumers are influenced significantly by what they see on social media. In a 2017 survey, 78% of consumers said that companies’ social media posts impacted their purchases.

If you’re not using social media for your brand or business, that’s a lot of missed opportunity!

Here are just a few of the many reasons why social media marketing is important for any brand:

Brand awareness

Social media platforms offer a great opportunity to build awareness for brands. From targeted advertising, hashtags, geo-tags and more, the opportunity to reach new audiences and gain exposure is vast.

Building brand awareness doesn’t always have to come from the brand’s side either — when customers feel loyalty to a brand, they are often compelled to share their love in posts and photos, spreading the awareness even further.

Authenticity

Social media allows brands to show their human side and be authentic. Authenticity resonates well with customers and allows them to feel a personal connection.

Engagement

Whether through comments on posts or direct messages, social media provides a great way to connect directly with customers. Engagement on social media can also improve customer service experience in the event of an issue as customers are able to communicate with a brand instantly.

Traffic Increase

Social media is a great way to drive traffic to a website. There are numerous opportunities to direct people from social platforms to a website such as links in posts, posting blog posts to social media, using product tags on Instagram, and many more. Social media advertising allows even greater opportunity to drive traffic to a website.

Customer Insights

Most social media platforms and social media scheduling platforms offer great analytics tools which can be used to dig into information about customers and followers. This analytical data provides brands with access to real-time data which can be used to improve marketing strategies and increase effectiveness.

 

Looking to boost your brand’s social media presence but are not sure where to start, check out our social media management services here.

With Cloud9 Marketing managing your social media, we boost your brand awareness, improve online credibility, and increase sales and/or customer acquisition.