Creative Trends Are Dead Graphic

Here at Two Rivers Marketing, we advise all of our clients to strategically plan and execute on their content marketing strategies. And we endeavor to do the same with our own content. For example, this blog post was concepted, planned, and put on the calendar months ago. I was tasked with discussing creative trends that we’ve seen so far in 2022.

My initial thought was, “Of course! Who doesn’t like trends? Show me what all the cool kids are doing so maybe we can apply the latest sexiness to our work!” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized something.

Here’s the thing — actually two things. One, I’m pretty sure trends don’t matter like they used to. And two, blindly following trends is a bad idea.

Hear me out.

There was a time when design, fashion, music, and other creative trends were easy to see and follow. They were easier to see in 2010 than they are today, and they were easier to see in 1990 than they were in 2010. And I’m sure if you followed all of those things back into even earlier decades, they’d become increasingly easy to identify. We were slowly moving out of a monoculture during the 20th century, and that move has accelerated like a Tesla in Ludicrous Mode over the past two decades.

We don’t have a single culture anymore. The proliferation of our media landscape has created thousands upon thousands of subcultures. That means something can trend hard in one little corner of the world while the rest of us remain completely and blissfully oblivious. That’s why I don’t understand 90% of the graphic tees I see people wearing on the street … and it’s why you don’t understand them either. We’re not a part of the subculture that created them. But don’t worry, the people who do understand them think they’re hilarious. But taking one of those trends and applying it to your brand will likely result in it falling flat because your audience just isn’t part of that subculture. As always, start from where your audience is.

So that all sounds like bad news, right? I mean, where are you supposed to look for inspiration if you can’t look to the hip snowboard or organic seltzer brand? Here’s what I’d suggest: Start with the subculture your brand is part of — it could be an industry subculture or it could be a culture that specifically exists around your brand. What’s trending with them? What are they talking about, watching, wearing, sharing, or laughing about? Those are the things that matter to your audience. Show them that you understand and are a part of that subculture, too.

That’s what’s going to matter to them. And that’s what’s going to move your brand forward. So while we can look back at our predictions from the beginning of the year and confirm that in some circles virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence have continued to grow as creative tools, the actual content that those tools have created has undoubtedly been very different.

Lean into your audience and community, and engage with them as much as you want them to engage with you. You’re already part of a subculture that your audience is interested in, and that subculture may not be interested in the latest TikTok dance. If so, you can put your dancing shoes away and stop worrying about “what the cool kids are doing.”

For more concrete advice on 2022 marketing trends, check out our original blog on the topic.