One of the best things about using illustrations is that no other company is going to be able to copy them exactly. Casper was one of the first big companies to embrace this trend, and they have stuck with it ever since:
These examples from Asana are definitely going to stand out more on social media or in an email, than a simple stock photo:
The illustrations that Mailchimp adopted last year probably led the rapid rise in popularity of these types of illustrations:
As first movers, these illustrations were great because your brand would be the only one using them. They also would stand out against a sea of stock photos and low effort graphics.
However, as more brands started embracing simple illustrations, the uniqueness and effectiveness of the graphics have kinda worn off.
I think that your illustrations need to get a little more imaginative, abstract, and even dreamy to really stand out in 2020.
Check out some of the unique illustrations Doist has been using lately:
Skillshare also took this abstract approach across their blog images:
The trendsetters at Bon Appetit even used some of these free-flowing illustrations recently to advertise a new recipe:
Because your brand is producing these illustrations, they can be extremely specific to your topic or idea as well. No more using boring stock photos in articles or on social media!
It seems some brands decided to take it up a notch on the uniqueness scale this year. As you can clearly see in this example for Dropbox’s monthly playlists:
These examples are literally one of a kind, and you can tell that the designers wanted to create something special. Also, look at how well they used a muted color palette across all the graphics!
Although these graphics are very creative, you still can pick up on their message quickly.
I think that’s an important thing to remember when working on abstract graphics like this. Try to make sure that your audience can interpret what you are trying to say, especially if it’s being used in a business or marketing capacity.
Apple stores seem to have taken their illustration game to a whole new level of abstract this year.
I have to say that it’s a nice change of pace, for a company that has always embraced minimalist designs. Although, as you can see, this type of graphic really pops when presented along the clean lines of an Apple store.
But I think my favorite part of this shift to the more absurd is the exaggerated and abstract illustrated people. Like these dreamy examples:
This designer even uses gradients to add texture and depth to their abstract masterpieces:
This seems to be another way that designers are moving away from simple and realistic illustrations, as they attempt to stand above the noise.
Speaking of branding, a small problem with some of these abstract images is that they make it hard to build a visually consistent brand unless you go all in like Casper or Mailchimp.
But, ever the innovators, Slack has a used simple hack to get around this by just adding their brandmark to the bottom of each.
Now when anyone sees these images, they know it came from Slack! A simple hashtag can be used to make sure your message or branding is crystal clear as well: