The Renaissance of Graphic Design and Color in 2018

The color wheel, graphic design and color

Graphic design and Color are again transforming the internet marketing space.

You may have noticed that white and plain backgrounds have dominated the website and smartphone visual horizon for awhile now. Apple was the first to go in that direction and for good reason. The clean, white, sparse approach differentiated them.

Then the tech competition said we want to look like them, and suddenly everyone wanted to move away from color. Attention deficit also contributed to the minimalism of color with the “gotta find it in15 seconds or less” time span. The old new thinking was that we cannot have distracting graphics or colors. Just get me to the link I need. While that aspect of design still holds true, change is in the digital stratosphere.

The Graphic Design and Color Revolt

In the last 12 months, a revolt has taken place and now color is back (hello 1990s). Bold color, gradient color, absurd color, risk-taking color is what we’re talking about.


drop box logo example of graphic design and color

I was mesmerized when I saw what Drop Box did in their branding. Eccentric. Pop art, Andy Warhol like. It flies in the face of let’s be consistent, consistent, consistent with our brand, brand, brand (better known as the same, the same, the same.) Recognition and repetition have been the mantras we’ve always operated with in branding. Nope, says Drop Box as they wave goodbye to two primary colors with a secondary accent.

Will these new approaches work?

The answer should be “it depends on who your audience is”.
I immediately think of millennials as the audience with this eclectic, incongruent imagery.

images of atypical color combinations


Then along comes E bay. Their pallet is intended for all age groups. These are atypical color combinations, but they’re not easy to come up with. It takes careful planning and a strong knowledge of the color wheel to make this work.

The Comeback of Color Gradients

My first reaction is “Say it ain’t so, Joe.” Gradients were so un-flat compared to what we’ve become accustomed to in recent years. Then again designers have to be risk-takers. Instagram is doing just that with graphic design and color and quite effectively for their brand. The City of Melbourne, Australia logo  is also nicely done.

Instagram and City of Melbourne logos, graphic design and color

Here’s three web pages that make this old style fresh and exciting. Mixpanel at the top left and right, and Brandless at the bottom. All three of these sites work elegantly. No tacky collage effects are to be found.

Mix Panel web page with duotone color and graphic design                                                        Mix Panel web page with duo tone color and graphic design

Brandless web page with duo tone color and graphic design

Color That’s Still With Us

Duotones never left us, but they are becoming avant-garde in the world of graphic design and color. Spotify and Baesman show the way with these clever set of images. These combinations are not easy to pull off without Photoshop experience or a similar editing software.

duo tone examples of graphic design and color

Lest we think the boomers as an audience are left out of the color transformation, notice the legacy style look about JFK on the bottom right.

Graphic design and color are essential elements of your brand. To learn more about branding, check out our blogs: Branding Your Organization: How to Stand Out on the Dance Floor and B2B Branding with Social Media: 5 Keys to Success