The 7 Biggest Social Media Graphic Design Trends to Watch For in 2021

Do you remember what social media visuals looked like a decade ago? Trends such as gradients, hand-lettering typography and minimalism ruled the design space. Over time, graphic design has seen a massive shift and that explains the evolution of social media visuals too. What’s more, let’s not forget that social media platforms have also evolved to become more visual. Take Facebook for instance.

This is how it looked in 2010. 

And this is how it looks now. 

Clearly, the platform has become more visual over the years.  


The 7 Biggest Social Media Graphic Design Trends to Watch For in 2021:


As social media marketers, it’s important to keep up with graphic design trends so that you’re able to visually communicate your brand in a manner that best appeals to your target audienceThat is why the team at Venngage recently compiled the biggest graphic design trends that will dominate 2021.

Let’s do a deep dive into each of these trends and see how you can use them to step up your social media visuals. 


1. Muted color palettes

If your social media graphics still constitute bold and vibrant colors, it’s time to consider a change in design strategy.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need vibrant, in-your-face colors to stand out on social media. In fact, the color trend that has grown to become popular in recent times is muted color palettes. Muted colors are colors that have been saturated with a hint of black, white or any other complementary color. 

Source: Venngage

This is why they appear to be softer and more organic while exuding calmness and evoking a sense of nostalgia.

With all the noise on social media timelines, using muted colors in your graphics helps you focus on your key message and makes your brand seem more authentic. A good example of a brand that often uses muted color palettes in their social media visuals is Headspace. The muted pink leaves readers with a sense of calm and serenity.

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CCJUlv4nLYR/


2. Simple data visualizations

Data visualization refers to presenting complex information or data in a visual format. The different types of data visualization you can create are:

  • Infographics
  • Charts and graphs
  • Diagrams
  • Maps

The idea behind using data visualizations is to communicate information clearly, making it easier for readers to understand and digest it.

Wondering what role data visualization plays in your social media strategy?

Well, one of the key social media goals is to drive engagement and posting data visualizations can help you achieve that. Not only do they complement your story and engage the audience, but they also have the scope to go viral. For example, infographics receive 3x more shares than any other type of content on social media.

While sharing data visualizations on social media what’s important to consider is the limited space you will be dealing with. You can’t afford to crowd your visualization with too much data because that will just end up overwhelming the reader. What do you do? You focus on a single statistic or data point. This makes it easier to get your point across while improving retention and shareability. Here’s an example of Asana using a pie chart to highlight a key statistic. This visual stands out because it is simple and focused.


3. Flat icons and illustrations

Another type of original graphic that works well on social media is icons and illustrations. 

They are playful graphics that help you communicate your message in a visually appealing manner. They are also a good way to highlight your brand’s unique identity and capture attention in the process. 

Icons and illustrations can be of various styles. What’s interesting to note is the rise of flat design in the recent past.

Flat icons and illustrations are popular because they are easy to consume and understand. You can use them to:

  • Express an abstract concept
  • Add life to a dull subject
  • Tell a story
  • Inform and educate readers
  • Outline steps of a process

So, the next time you think of using run-of-the-mill stock photography on social media, consider creating flat icons or illustrations instead. You can also design them in line with your branding guidelines, thereby building a strong visual identity on social media. 

Here’s an example of Zoom using flat illustrations to put their point across effectively.


4. Geometric patterns

Sometimes it helps to give your social media graphics some consistency and structure. One of the most effective ways to achieve that is by using geometric shapes and patterns in your visuals.

“Geometric shapes look man-made. Mathematically precise squares, perfect circles, and isosceles triangles don’t appear in nature. So, using these shapes communicates a sense of order and power,” according to a Forbes articleThey serve as visual cues by guiding the viewer’s gaze and highlighting the key message that needs to be seen. 

While using geometric shapes and patterns in your social media visuals, it’s important to consider the psychology behind every shape. For instance, squares suggest stability and proportion while triangles are associated with motion and risk. You can create social media graphics with a particular shape or use a combination of shapes to design an enticing background. 

Take a look at how GoDaddy uses geometric shapes to highlight and reinforce the focus of the visual. 


5. Serif fonts

Considering the limited space you have to convey your point, the last thing you want is for your audience to work hard to read your social media visuals.  If anything, you should make the experience as easy as possible.

While you should use minimal text on your graphics, make sure you opt for a font that is legible, readable and helps you convey your message accurately. The classic Serif fonts are a winner in this aspect. In spite of being the oldest font style, they are still widely used across platforms owing to their simplicity. Being extremely versatile, they can be used by brands across industries.

Serif fonts also make brands seem more trustworthy, reliable and authentic which makes it easier for your audience to resonate with you. 

Here’s an example of Hinge using a Serif font in their social media graphics. 


6. Social media slide decks

Whether it’s Instagram’s multiple-image post, Facebook’s carousel post or LinkedIn’s slide deck, what is common in all these formats is the ability to post multiple images (or videos) at once. 

As you might have noticed, bite-sized slide decks have become hugely popular on social media. They let you weave a story and share in-depth content while keeping readers invested and engaged.

You can use slide decks to:

Make sure you design a compelling title slide that captures attention and compels people to keep scrolling. 

Remember: these are bite-sized slide decks so don’t crowd your slides. It’s a good idea to focus on one idea per slide and use icons to add visual appeal. Here’s an example of a social media slide deck Venngage created. It summarizes an elaborate infographic, with each slide focusing on a single statistic. 


7. Text-heavy videos

No article on “trends” is complete without the mention of videos. It’s no secret that incorporating video content in your social media strategy holds immense power and is now more important than ever.

What’s interesting to note is the rise of text-heavy video content on social media. There are many reasons for this:

This shows that if you’re creating videos for social media, it makes sense to include text and motion graphics to complement your story. But what’s important to keep in mind is the right use of fonts and colors in your videos so that they aid storytelling while being easy to read.

This is also good news for creators considering text-heavy video content is faster to produce as they don’t require elaborate footage. All you need is a reliable and easy-to-use video editing software and you should be able to create videos in no time. 

Here’s an example of a text-heavy video by lululemon, announcing their new campaign. 


The takeaway: apply these graphic design trends to create better social media posts

Now that you’re aware of the graphic design trends that will dominate 2021, look at how you can use them in your social media content strategy, inject your brand personality and step up your visual game. This will help you stand out from your competitors, appeal to new audiences and drive engagement. 

Simki Dutta

Simki Dutta is a content marketer at Venngage, free infographic maker and design platform. She writes about all things marketing and communications. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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