Focus on Design Part II: The Latest Branding Trends


Here at MSC Retail, we believe that branding can be just as crucial as location and operations when it comes to the success of our clients. We’ve learned a number of key lessons both from designing and maintaining our own brand as well as from keeping our finger on the pulse of current trends in the retail and hospitality industries. This is the second post in a three part blog series that we’ve put together to share our favorite design and branding insights and ‘aha’ moments. If you’re looking for tips to help take your retail or restaurant concept to the next level, you’ve come to the right place.

The Latest Branding Trends: To Follow or Not To Follow?

For the second post in our Focus on Design series, our design gurus are taking a look at the pitfalls of trend chasing. “Today, in pursuit of relevance, most brands chase after trends. But this is a commodity approach to branding: Hundreds of companies are doing exactly the same thing with the same generic list of trends. It’s no wonder consumers don’t pay attention.” (Source) We think a trend in design is like last year’s hot stock: once it’s reached the mainstream, it’s too late to jump on that bandwagon. Here’s what you’ll want to consider when deciding whether or not to do what all the cool brands are doing.

Learn from your Fashion Faux Pas

Have you ever bought a piece of clothing because it was the new “in” style only to try it on at home and realize it doesn’t quite work for you? Yeah, us too. Take a tip from your past fashion mistakes and the dent they left in your wallet — resist the urge to follow trends unless they truly align with your company’s services, products and values. Just because the popular brands are doing it doesn’t mean you should too.


Ever wonder what it would look like if Gap started taking design cues from Instagram, or if Starbucks started taking cues from Dunkin Donuts? The internet has already imagined those scenarios and more


Don’t Just Copy & Paste

If you do decide to follow a trend, make it your own by tailoring it to your specific audience. Loyal customers and social media devotees can detect inauthenticity from a mile away. They will know if you’ve simply ripped off another brand or copy and pasted a trend. Remember that “transparency and authenticity are both key in humanizing your brand”, especially for Millennials (Source). Don’t take our word for it, just take a look back at Gary Johnson’s marketing missteps leading up to the presidential election or the Tokyo Olympic committee’s logo fiasco last year.

 The Theatre de Liege logo juxtaposed with the Tokyo Olympics Committee’s initial logo proposal

 Gary Johnson’s blatant branding rip-off of Spark’s spec work


Let A Professional Handle It

Assuming your budget allows, be sure to engage a professional graphic designer to build a unique identity and intelligently position your brand in the market. You’ve invested a significant amount of time, effort and resources into building your product. The same time and care should go into crafting your brand. While you might be an expert in your product, you’re probably not an expert in branding. Let the professionals handle it. Besides bringing top-notch technical skills to the table, a veteran designer will be less likely to blindly follow trends. They will approach your project with a fresh and objective perspective that will help find the unique angle you need to stand out in the crowd.

Lord & Taylor went in-house for their 2015 rebranding…with less than stellar results. We think they could have used an outsider’s perspective to help them reposition their iconic brand.


If you missed last week’s blog on crafting a compelling brand, make sure to check it out. Stay tuned for our third and final post in the series coming up next week!

As always, we welcome your questions and comments at or @MSC_Retail.