Do you remember what social media visuals looked like a decade ago? Trends such as gradients, hand-lettering, 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.
While minimalism and gradients still feature in 2022, advances in tech and software mean that a lot more is possible. For example, now dreamy gradients are favored and white space is combined with bright colors to grab the attention.
To help you create social media posts and visuals that will drive engagement in 2022, we’ve scoured the web for the biggest social media graphic design trends. From color schemes to backgrounds to typography, here’s what you can expect in the coming year.
The 20 Biggest Social Media Graphic Design Trends to Watch For in 2022:
- 1. Maximalism
- 2. Anti-design
- 3. Inclusive imagery
- 4. 90s wistfulness
- 5. Grunge revival
- 6. Flat icons and illustrations
- 7. 3D illustrations
- 8. Expressive lettering
- 9. Dreamy doodles and muted gradients
- 10. Escapism/abstract surrealism
- 11. Geometric patterns
- 12. Bubbles
- 13. Serif fonts
- 14. Bold backgrounds
- 15. Simple, fun data visualizations
- 16. Branded memes
- 17. Social media screen captures
- 18. Quotes
- 19. Minimalism
- 20. Y2K
2022’s Most Popular Social Media Graphic Design Trends
In basic terms, maximalism is a response to minimalism. It features loads of textures, colors, tones, objects, and shapes. It’s excessive. It’s dramatic. It’s loud.
In 2022, expect to see less white space and more vibrant colors, bold color combos, contrasting patterns, rich textures, quirky fonts, and layered images. There might be a lot of different elements, but everything is intentional.
Anti-design is similar to maximalism and brutalism. It dismisses conventional design principles by embracing asymmetry and color combos that appear unharmonious.
To some, it’s simply ugly; to others, the style sets itself free from what others perceive as beautiful. You decide.
3. Inclusive imagery
With an increased focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in marketing (and rightfully so), it makes sense that more digital assets will feature diversity. In 2022, we expect to see marginalized groups enjoy more representation in visuals.
4. 90s wistfulness
While there’s virtually an emoji for everything nowadays, in the new year, simple emojis will be the go-to visuals for brands. Other blasts from the past include dripping slime, bright color blocks, elementary frames, and features of Memphis design like repetitive geometric patterns.
The longing for 90s also means that you’ll be seeing a lot more of the Frasurbane style in 2022. It’s a combination of the word “urbane” (meaning refined in manner) and Frasier (a popular series in the 90s). This style has mostly impacted interior design, but it can also be applied to social media graphic design. Key features include muted colors, serif fonts and beige. A lot of beige. Get it wrong and you run the risk of letting your brand appear ostentatious. Get it right and your target audience will view your brand as sophisticated.
5. Grunge revival
Social media posts with granular textured backgrounds, shadowed images, scribbled handwriting, and collages that you would typically find in magazines will pop up more in feeds.
It’s emotive. It looks like it has been put together quickly, carelessly, and forcefully. Things that younger target audiences find attractive.
It challenges the clean lines that we typically associate with digital icons. One more reason why younger audiences are starting to associate more with grunge. Not only will this style help you to speak to younger crowds, but by including crude, hand-drawn images, your social media posts will really stand out in feeds.
6. Flat icons and illustrations
In 2021, flat icons and illustrations were trending. Brands used these playful graphics to communicate their messages in a visually appealing way. Not only are they great for capturing attention and storytelling, but they’re also effective for highlighting the unique identity of your brand.
While icons and illustrations can be of various styles, in 2022 more designs will get their inspiration from Ukiyo-e artists of Japan’s Edo Period, a style of printed artwork used on hand-carved wooden blocks. Key features include bold outlines, similar tones and hues, and exaggerated facial expressions.
So, the next time that you want to use run-of-the-mill stock photos on social media, rather consider creating flat icons or illustrations. For the best results, create them in line with your branding guidelines, thereby building a strong visual identity on social media.
7. 3D illustrations
While flat icons and illustrations are still expected to feature a lot in social media content in 2022, increasingly more designers are starting to play around with 3D illustrations. This new style is more detailed and adds dimension and depth. You can also include flat illustrations in your 3D designs. So, if you’re a fan of flat imagery, you can still include it in your social media content. All in all, the combination can create more realistic, true-to-life visuals that pop to compel your audiences.
8. Expressive lettering
In 2022, typography will be a whole lot more experimental. Think incongruous styles, structureless bubbles, fun elements, new colors, and mind-bending shapes.
Adding to the 3D illustrations trend, you can also expect to see more 3D typography. It makes your text appear more lifelike. You can, for example, use shoelaces or helium balloons to create three-dimensional lettering that really stands out. So, if serif fonts (see trend #13) are simply too traditional for you, perhaps this can be an alternative to explore?
In short, in 2022, typography will become less clear and readable. That being said, this graphic design trend is not the easiest to implement correctly. If you know that your target audience doesn’t care much for creative experimentation, it’s best to skip this trend altogether.
9. Dreamy doodles and muted gradients
In 2021, muted color palettes featured boldly. While many of the trends that we’ve already discussed include bold and vibrant color combos, there’s still a place for muted colors in your social media design strategy for 2022.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always need vibrant, in-your-face colors to get the attention of your target audience on social media. Muted gradients use colors that have been saturated with a hint of black, white, or any other complementary color. This is why they appear to be softer and more organic while exuding calmness and evoking a sense of nostalgia.
According to Envato, one of the leading marketplaces for buying and selling creative assets, dreamy muted gradients in particular will be popular in 2022. The use of granular textures and soft pastels can help to create digital assets that are elegant and visually pleasing.
Another element that you can use to create a dreamy feel is doodles. Doodles don’t have to be silly, insignificant scribbles. They might be simple, but you can include more personal doodles in your social media posts to communicate more about your brand. In fact, it’s their simplicity that makes them so powerful. All in all, it can be a great way to add a unique and personal touch to your digital assets.
10. Escapism/abstract surrealism
Billionaires aren’t the only ones who can escape to space nowadays. In 2022, get ready to see more graphic designs on social media that will transport you to settings that will excite your senses. Think playfully quaint elements and out-of-the-blue color combos. Whether it’s for backgrounds or illustrations, there are many ways that you create magical worlds for your followers on social media.
11. Geometric patterns
In 2021, the use of geometric patterns was one of the biggest social media graphic design trends. In 2022, it’s expected that it will continue. After all, patterns are central components of graphic design.
Sometimes it helps to give your social media graphics some consistency and structure and using geometric shapes and patterns in your visuals can do just that. Plus, they can help to make backgrounds more interesting by breaking up solid colors.
When you’re using geometric shapes and patterns in your social media visuals, it’s key that you give thought to the psychology behind every shape. For example, squares suggest stability and proportion while triangles are associated with motion and risk.
In 2022 specifically, parametric patterns will be trending. In short, it uses complex geometric structures wherein the individual lines morph depending on their positions. As these patterns are fluid, they can communicate a sense of movement too.
Who doesn’t feel drawn to bubbles? Bubble shapes, like circles, are typically seen as fun, friendly, and lively. In 2022, you can look forward to seeing a lot more rounded graphics. Though, to make sure that these bubble shapes speak to older target audiences too, you can expect to see it combined with psychedelic colors. Also, these rounded shapes will be longer than usual to give it just the right dose of exaggeration.
13. Serif fonts
Considering that you have limited space 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’s legible, readable and helps you communicate your message accurately. The classic serif fonts are a winner in this aspect. In spite of being the oldest font style, they’re 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 make it easier for your audience to resonate with you. They help to create a sense of security – something that we can all do with more considering there’s a pandemic that’s changing our routines by the day.
In 2021, serif fonts started to make a comeback and in 2022, it’s expected that it will continue to remain popular. If you’re not such a huge fan of these traditional fonts, you can try to combine it with other fonts that are more modern.
14. Bold backgrounds
While you can still expect to see muted color palettes in 2022, designers are also anticipating that bold backgrounds will win favor. This means that if you rather want to use a bolder, brighter color in your digital assets, go ahead. You can, for example, include bright color blocks to create a sense of 90s nostalgia. This way, you can take advantage of another graphic design trend.
Not only are backgrounds getting more colorful, but also icons and illustrations. So, be sure to keep them inclusive by featuring men, women, senior citizens, different races, cultures, etc.
15. Simple, fun 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:
- Charts and graphs
The idea behind using data visualizations is to communicate information clearly, making it easier for readers to understand and digest it. In your social media strategy, posting data visualizations can help you to drive more engagement. Not only do they complement your story and engage the audience, but they also have the scope to go viral. For example, infographics can receive up to three times more shares than any other type of content on social media.
When sharing data visualizations on social media, it’s important to keep in mind the limited space you’ll be dealing with. You can’t afford to crowd your visualization with too much data because that will just end up overwhelming the reader.
So, instead focus on a single statistic or data point. This makes it easier to get your point across while improving retention and shareability. In short, it should be simple and focused.
In 2022 specifically, we’re expecting to see a lot more emphasis on fun. Instead of creating an infographic or chart about a loaded topic, choose something that’s entertaining like new remote work habits. At the end of the day, your goal should be to keep it relevant, but happy.
16. Branded memes
Another way to keep things lighthearted is to create your own branded memes. Memes have become a form of visual communication that’s acknowledged and understood by consumers across the globe (in fact, they’ve also become some of the most expensive NFTs ever to be sold). So, rather than simply copying and pasting a meme, you can tweak it so that it fits in with the tone of your brand.
17. Social media screen captures
At Influencer Marketing Hub, we’ve been sharing screencaps of social media posts for a long time already. In 2022, you can expect to see increasingly more brands adopting this trend.
Not only are they easy to create (just capture a screenshot of a social media post on one social media platform and then share it on another platform), but it’s another way to share data in a way that’s straightforward and fun. All in all, it’s better suited for content that’s entertaining.
If you don’t necessarily like the idea of posting a screencap of a social media post on another platform, you can also convert them into a quote instead. These won’t be motivational quotes (so no dolphins disappearing into the sunset), but rather entertaining quotes from a podcast episode or blog post.
Basically, the goal is to use it as a type of a short intro that will grab the attention of your audience. You can, for example, combine the quote with a relevant flat icon or illustration that’s in line with your brand identity or try to incorporate another graphic design trend like a serif font, geometric pattern, or dreamy doodle.
While you can expect to see more maximalism in 2022, there’s still a place for minimalism. Though, in 2022, there will be a lot more color. Instead of combining monochromatic color schemes with white space, designers are pairing white space with a couple of bright colors to highlight specific features.
You can also expect to see more minimalist retro features such as warm tones, organic textures, and soft shadows. Once again, you can use serif fonts here to create elegant posts that create a sense of nostalgia.
Y2K-inspired designs that use bubblegum blues and pinks and luminous colors that look like they’re changing when viewed from different angles and unrefined interfaces are expected to return in 2022. While it’s similar to cyberpunk, this style is brighter and more nostalgic. The House of Van Schneider explains that it’s loads of tech combined with a bit of pop, anime, and grunge. This style brings a renewed optimism and excitement in all things tech (perhaps something that’s much needed after the pandemic).
Wrapping Things Up
If you want to resonate with audiences in 2022, you’ll need to include graphic design elements in your social media posts that are entertaining. The past two years have been challenging enough, so keep it light-hearted and fun. From flat design to colorful icons to 3D elements, there are more than enough trends that graphic designers can experiment with when creating social media content for brands in the coming year.