The image is everything

2015 is marked by a move to greater visual intimacy in campaigns -- and iStock by Getty Images is a vast visual databank to help illustrate any story

Pushed into play by changes in culture and technology, new design trends are shaping the way we visualise ourselves and our businesses. Rebecca Swift, Director, Creative Planning at Getty Images, explains how images from four of iStock’s visual design trends for 2015 — Letterbox Look, Point of View,  Busy with Boxes and Monochromatic Colour — can help you tell the right story for your brand. "Viewpoints are getting even more personal," Swift explains. The letterbox format will become the new square, monochrome is the colour of the year — and while white space will still be a big deal in print advertising, a visually literate audience is increasingly willing to take on more complex images as storytelling becomes ever more sophisticated. These changes will not be limited to lifestyle campaigns either. "Although the corporate world is slower to adopt to consumer-generated trends, we will see a more intimate, first-person, participatory view, offering a personal perspective on daily business life," she suggests.

letterbox Look

Welcome to the new square

We are all viewing more content on phones and tablets, with the result that design tends to concentrate on mobiles first and then desktops and laptops. So while for years the square format visual has been prevalent, influenced by sites such as Instagram, the letterbox format is emerging as a way to tell a story in an interesting, cinematic frame. Letterbox image headers are used boldly in web design, with a tighter crop also working well to convey a more meaningful moment. Apple, perpetually a style leader in terms of digital design, is using this format and others will follow.

Point of View

Wearables drive real intimacy

Point of view in imagery is evolving rapidly, born out of advances in wearable technology: GoPro, Google Glass and Narrative Clip all allow the user to capture images on the go. In marketing these can be used to illustrate participation close-up, changing the position of the first person view from that of traditional photography or video. It has bled over from the world of extreme sports into lifestyle campaigns, providing greater intimacy and involvement in people’s lives, feeling authentic and believable. This trend has transferred to social media and will soon become part of mainstream marketing.

Busy With Boxes

Layers replace flat approach

The standard commercial concept of a clear image and space for copy is becoming less necessary as a visually sophisticated audience accepts busier images with lots of detail and many different elements to look at. This opens things up, so instead of needing its own space, text is now laid across the image. We expect to see more designers rejecting the classic copy space concept, telling stories in different ways using multiple layers tied together and perhaps lifting text via a semi-transparent box rather than relying on the flat approach.

Monochromatic Colour

Sophisticated and contemporary contrasts

While still using some colour, this trend sees lowlights and highlights employed to give an impression of monochrome. It ties in with our continuing love of flat Nordic light where sharp, cold white brings out contrasts with black and other colours, such as warm red wine tones. Monochromatic colour adds crispness, sharpness and contrast and is emerging as a counterpoint to the multi-coloured digital world, feeling sophisticated and contemporary. You can find monochromatic images that match your colour palette using the box on the left of the search page on iStock.com.


A MARKETING promotion in association with iStock by Getty Images

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).

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