Every time a new trend emerges, how often do you find yourself chasing it?
Pineapples are EVERYWHERE right now, so does that mean you should bust out a pineapple-centric product? Or maybe there’s a new product category emerging (like mobile ready fonts did in 2014) and you feel like you have to join in to stay competitive in the marketplace. But by following all the new trends, you are on the fast track to diluting your brand.
Let me illustrate my point by giving you my own personal example of this – I’ve fallen victim of the “shiny new trend” several times myself.
In late 2013, hand-lettered script word brushes were a becoming a big trend in the digi scrapbook community (due in part to popular designers like Karla Noel and Paislee Press who adopted hand lettering before it was a trend) and designers who had never created hand lettered products were jumping on the bandwagon left and right, including yours truly.
The only problem was, hand lettering was NOT a strength of mine at the time. But that didn’t dissuade me; I went on my merry way, designing some hand lettered words for a Christmas collection in December 2013. Not surprisingly, my brushes didn't sell well because 1) my execution was poor, and 2) it's not something my customers expected to see (or were interested in purchasing) from me. Looking back at it now, I cringe that I put something so blatantly not “me” in my shop.
The biggest problem here was that the only reason I made that product was because it was “on trend” and I never stopped to think about whether it would fit with my existing product catalog or my brand.
Luckily there is an easy way to avoid the trend trap: you simply have to take a beat and think about whether this new trend fits within your strengths and aesthetic as a designer. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What themes or products am I known for?
- What are my strengths as a designer?
- Is the market already saturated with this trend?
- Does following this trend make a positive impact on my brand or product catalog?
By taking 10-15 minutes and analyzing whether or not this trend works for you and your designs, you will save yourself time and unnecessary heartache if/when your trendy product doesn’t sell well.
If I had done that in the fall of 2013, I would have realized that my strength was typeface-based word art, and NOT in writing phrases by hand. I wouldn’t have created those brushes, but instead put that time and effort into some other product that was more in-line with my design aesthetic.
Analyzing a trend can also be really good for highlighting weak spots in your business and can be a catalyst for you to expand your design skills. Since understanding my own lack of hand lettering skills in 2013 and realizing it’s an area I wanted to improve on, I’ve made a concerted effort to practice drawing letterforms and am now quite confident in lettering abilities.
So the next time you’re wooed by an emerging new trend, take a step back and decide whether it’s something that fits within your brand. Because it’s always better to be known for designing a few things really well than it is to be known for doing everything only ok.