New 'visual marketing' trends for 2006

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on January 30, 2006

New 'visual marketing' trends for 2006

The visual and emotional side of marketing is not always addressed properly in product design and advertising, according to US-based marketing concepts agency Toniq, which offers some truly outside-the-box ideas about 'visual trends' for 2006.

What Toniq calls 'visual trends' are ideas that provide signposts to where the current consumer culture is, and where it may go in the future. Toniq uses them to understand core ideas such as individualism, pampering, and convenience - all of which can inspire product development, brand innovation, or brand refreshment. Among the key visual trends identified for 2006 and beyond are:

  1. Bionic chic This is the blending of technology and nature. Technology is being transformed from its cool, rational origins to objects of beauty, inspired by nature. When it's done right, logic and intuition, body and mind, technology and nature co-exist without tension, right and left-brain attributes meld, and logic co-exists with artistry. This trend has progressed from a conflict between nature and machine to a harmony of fast and slow influences (a classic example being consumers who watch simulated fish tanks on their expensive PCs).  
  2. Elements Imagery involving water looks toward the increasing rarity of pure, clean water - an essential foundation for human life and a source of renewal, restoration and creative imagination. Likewise, incorporating imagery of air and wind symbolises weightlessness, freedom and ease. Wind also represents natural, fluid power. Sun imagery brings light, colour and reflection.  
  3. Biography The 'biography' trend is using individualism or personalisation in the context of a global community. The theme here is connecting with others through our personal stories. On a practical level, the "archaeology of personal memories" is recast in the present through real stories, as told through blogs, text messaging, digital images, journals, scrapbooks, and so on. It is really a celebration of real people, with real lives and real stories, from all over the world - stories based on the notion of individual freedom, a mix of cultures, and the confidence to "be" rather than to change. Better still, biography imagery can infuse the digital age with "sepia-toned" memories - a fondness for the child of the past who is the adult of today. It's about authenticity.  
  4. Archetypes and myths (in a female beauty context) This kind of imagery is a universal, archetypal expression of femininity, involving timeless, universal stories of "femaleness" representing all facets of womankind. The Temptress, the Great Mother, the Beauty, the Huntress/Protector, all are attributes of the feminine principle that have been true since the beginning of time. This is a useful visual trend in the face of compressed sleep cycles and stressful modern lifestyles. For example, DeBeers' advertising communicates universal attributes of femaleness (seduction, beauty, the huntress) by using archetypes of femininity (e.g. Eve and Venus) to express the timeless appeal of diamonds.  
  5. Macro social trend Moving from an information economy to a conceptual economy, the outsourcing of "left-brain" (practical, functional, calculating) jobs to Asia can be reduced to a set of rules: computer coding, accounting, research, analysis, and the like. In the early 20th century, machines replaced muscle. In the 21st century, technology can replace human left-brain functions. From now on, right brain attributes rule the advertising roost. The "Information Age" has disconnected consumers from their mundane lives, putting a premium on beauty, spirituality and emotion. We witness the merger of right and left-brain sensibilities into "high-touch" and "high-concept" innovations.  
  6. The rise of the artisan A counterpoint to our fast-paced, technology-infused lifestyles, the quality and rhythm of craft provides a sense of time (which consumers no longer have) to focus on details. Time is the real currency of luxury in the early 21st century, and therefore anything that involves time, focus, depth and detail is already at a premium.  Artisanship also represents man's "civilizing" nature, which translates into the use of pure, raw materials - the hand of man shaping nature to bring out its' essence, taming and sculpting, a highly tactile and sensory experience. Natural materials reflect a need to experience things in person in an age when experiences are increasingly virtual.

These trends have been observed in recent months by Cheryl Swanson, principal for Toniq LLC, who previously led several design firms with her emotion-based, visual approach to brand strategy.

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