While 2020 taught us that even with the best of forecast models nothing is clear, here are trends we think you’ll see in the world of signage and branding in 2021.

1. Continuation of Signage Tied to Health

Antimicrobial Screen with Target Branding

Though we see a bright spot in our future, we know we’ll be working through this uncertain time for some months still. This has continued to provide challenges for businesses large and small, and thus we’ve all had to continually adapt as needed. In terms of signage, this has meant there’s been continued need for social distancing interior signs and markers, anti-microbial material for signs and digital displays, as well as a need for fluid signage to keep customers up to the minute with changes, be this in the form of vinyl signs or LED digital signage.

2. Increasingly Brands Need to Be Truly Authentic

Starbucks image promoting their effort to help front-line responders

In this modern world of ours, customers are both perhaps more cynical and yet, seemingly in contradiction, more hopeful about companies being agents of positive change in our world. Companies that can wear their values on their sleeves will score points, not by necessarily showing the gloss and sheen of their work, but by letting customers peek behind the curtains and being honest and direct. Influencers for instance are loved most when they do not blatantly include a typical ad pitch for a product, but explain truly why they chose to partner with that business, how they really use said product, and then give their honest opinion even if it’s not as glowing as the marketing team of the advertising company would like. Likewise influencers come across more as they are, real people talking to you directly, in a way companies can often only dream of achieving. Companies must therefore try to be the same, and it’s an understandably fine line to walk – being authentic and personal without coming across falsely. However fine a line though, those companies that succeed will see their efforts pay more dividends, and overall their business will be thanked in kind by increased success.

3. Immersive and Interactive Signage

Customers more and more want to have an experience in stores especially, but likewise businesses of all sorts. Increasingly this has led to the use of wayfinding signage that’s fun and dynamic, along with an increased use of LED signage or monitors that customers can themselves interact with. Much like how gas stations often have TVs on pumps to help the customer pass the time, restaurants will have TVs or LEDs that customers can interact with to help at least improve the perceived wait time of a customer for their food. Larger cities and countries such as Japan have taken this to the next level already; however, mid-size and smaller cities too will jump on this trend more in 2021. So if you’re looking for a way to capture your audience, or improve their time in your store or business, look no further than the opportunities provided by this trend.

4. Visual Media Remains Supreme

Memorial's LED Display Sign at The Atrium in Chattanooga, TN

The old adage a picture says a 1000 words has never been truer in a world where Instagram Reels, YouTube, and SnapChat to a lesser degree reign supreme. Though words are crucial still for context, and on videos for ADA purposes, customers react especially well to striking and captivating visuals. Taking note of our previous trend of interactive and immersive signage, this is an opportunity for an increased use of digital signage on the inside and exterior of your business to showcase images and videos. Likewise this means it’s all the more important for your brand to represent itself on visual mediums, such as Instagram and YouTube. Customers rarely prefer being directly advertised too through an ad, and this allows for more subtle means of getting your message across to your target audience.

5. Increased Need for Wayfinding Signage

Unum Wayfinding Signs for South and Town Center

Interior signage has been front and center for many these past few years, in particular with the always important inclusion of ADA signage. What we have seen recently, and what businesses have asked us about too, is the increased importance and need for wayfinding signage. Wayfinding Signage is often seen in large buildings, such as airports, hospitals, and universities. Now we’re seeing it as an essential part of smaller businesses too, both to help as a part of larger brand outreach efforts and to assist the independent customer or shopper who wants a guided business approach still but with less direct interaction perhaps by sales staff.

6. Less Is More, Think Minimal

One trend that is seen equally across branding and signage is that a “less is more” approach is gaining popularity with customers. Minimalism is seen now as enough, and flashy is no longer the only way one might catch a customer’s eye. As brands consider how their logos look online and in print, minimalist design allows for ease of use across all platforms. Likewise thinking ‘minimally’ means sharing a clear and impactful message, while still allowing, if not perhaps encouraging, even more creativity with the branding.

Of course as with all trends not everyone will work for every company, as GM’s roll out of their new modern logo is being met with mixed reactions. However you can expect this trend to continue all the same.

What trends are you seeing in 2021?

We’d like to know what trends are you seeing with your business so far, and which new trends do you expect in 2021? Share with us in the comments below!