Guiding our work and inspiring our design is our curiosity to always ask what’s next and what will tomorrow bring for design, content and technology, and for our clients and their customers. As we move into this new year, we’re looking ahead at trends for 2013. Each year, we ask individuals from the Designsensory team, “What are some of the big topics in design, content, technology, business growth and branding you see making an impact this year?”

How do these fit into your branding, and what are some other trends relevant to your business? Please, let us know. And, join us for Part Two in February.


Joseph Nother | Creative Director & Principal

Content Marketing starts with Brand Honesty
Brands will need to stop posing. They will need to be honest with their purpose, solve real problems and stand for something ideal, not in the dated sense of corporate responsibility, but as an organization exuberantly and positively involved in people’s lives. With an “honest” brand strategy in place, these brands can then embody and express their ideals in all forms of relevant content and engage in conversations that are customer-first (relevant, valuable, validating) regardless of media.

Josh Loebner | Strategist

Native Advertising
Branded entertainment, sometimes known as product placement or in-show branding, is something many of us have seen on TV shows and in the movies. Now advertisers are collaborating with content publishers, media outlets and brand consultancies to create native advertising.

This online form of in-show branding integrates high-quality content into the organic experience of a given platform. Examples could include longer form video, web films, photo streams and interactive graphics among others. This article from Mashable shares more on what native advertising is and how it can better engage and connect with people than traditional online advertising.

Susan Napier-Sewell | Content Developer, Writer, Editor

Crossover & Collaboration
We all have skill sets upon which we don’t necessarily hang our organizational hats. Staying compartmentalized can deprive an organization of mining/nurturing in-house assets. Regard each person in your organization as a content resource, with uniqueness of voice, perspective, expertise, and you’ll see a spike in creativity and cross-department collaboration.

Erin Slattery | Content Strategist

Think Human
From SEO to loyal viewership, content that is meaningful and useful will offer a return on investment far greater than tactics and formulas aimed to boost search results. As leading search engines work diligently to make robots think like humans, it is our responsibility to cater our content to humans, not robots.

Make it Memorable
Static, wordy content has fallen to content that is snackable, easy to consume and experiential. Getting your audience involved by offering an entertaining immersive experience proves key in making your content memorable and return visit worthy. Gamification, video and engaging visuals will continue to grow in importance. Focus on content that is concise, interactive and easy to share and you will find your content more than earning its keep.


Paula Solomon | Director of Business Development

Specialized Solutions
Integrated digital solutions, including specialized video content, are currently on-trend in our business development efforts. Usage of video, specifically on commerce-based websites, is growing exponentially, and I expect sales of the specialized content to grow exponentially as well.

Susan Napier-Sewell | Content Developer, Writer, Editor

Red-hot Social Curation
Social curation took off online in 2012. To innovatively engage customers, Pinterest launched its business accounts in October. Brands big and small have joined the social scrapbook that is potentially morphing into The World’s Greatest Shopfront, now 40 million strong.

Social curation is just getting started, given its meteoric rise and the mind-boggling number of new platforms. Take a peek.

Erin Slattery | Content Strategist

Our marketing islands are no more. Integration between networks and media will prove key in 2013. Already, we see promotions intertwined between Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and others. As the year plays out, expect to see businesses leverage their strength on one platform to extend their reach on others.


Joseph Nother | Creative Director & Principal

Wearable Devices
Whether as accessories to mobile apps or separate devices altogether, technology will continue to embed, integrate and augment human beings. Think fitbit, Quantified Self, Nike+ FuelBand, tracking devices, precursors to the Star Trek Tricorder as next steps to embedded and cybernetic technology (particularly if you put stock in Kurzweil’s singularity).

Justin Hudson | Designer

The Elevation of the Smartphone and Friends
I believe we will see smartphones move beyond contemporary use of onscreen apps and sites to an essentially functional role in our lives. Phones are teaming up with other gadgets to streamline and refine daily existence into a digital experience we control with one hand.

Some apps are already in place to benefit our lives, but much of what’s out there in the form of appcessories are novelty items. I expect life-essential devices, such as those mentioned above, to become a seamless integration into our daily lives.

Kristin Eubanks | Content Assistant

QR Codes; Physical-to-Digital
Businesses are head over heels about QR codes and the changes QR codes can effect. Currently, consumers have to scan the bar codes on their smartphones with an app, unfortunately. Many do not know how to use QR codes, and countless others still have not caught up with technology and do not have smartphones. According to comScore Inc., in June 2011 14 million Americans scanned QR codes with their mobile phones. Unfortunately, this was only 6.2 percent of the mobile phone audience.

QR codes are a brilliant idea, just a little too advanced for their time. Once the generation catches up with the technologies, QR codes would be more affective. A new trend for 2013 would be to keep pushing QR codes to educate people on their effectiveness and raise awareness of what they offer. Although QR codes are taking awhile to catch on, their value is incredible—not just for businesses, but for healthcare as well.

Matt Montgomery | Graphic Designer

Near Field Communication
Though strangely absent in the latest iPhone 5, Near Field Communication (NFC) in smartphones and tablets is right around the corner. Several flagship Android phones including the Nexus S and Samsung Galaxy S II are already using this promising technology. Though it might take some time for NFC to fully take off, once it doesNFC-enabled devices will be able to perform as your mobile wallet, get tickets for boarding passes or even act as your car keys.


Tuyen Ho | Designer

Tactile-enhanced Print Design
I think in order for print design to survive in this digital world, it has to become more tactile and “interactive” to compete with all of the digital media out there. People still like to use their senses (touching, feeling, etc.), so flat print is evolving into intricate visual pieces that encourage people to pick them up and spend time with them. Some print pieces may be traditional flat print, but their designs have textures and shadows creating dimension or a cut-paper-look, making one believe he or she could lift it right off the page. Other designs involve die-cuts, folds, flaps, scratch-and-sniffs, embossing, glossy, e.g., something that will push the experience further. Many think print is dying, but I think now that the day-to-day print clutter is falling to the wayside, making room for beautiful print pieces to be noticed and appreciated.

Ian Fitz | Web Developer

Responsive Design
I believe 2013 is the year that responsive web design becomes firmly widespread. Ideologically, responsive design has been building steam for many years now, but web browser and cellphone technology has been holding back truly beautiful and graceful design. As more designers and developers dive headfirst into creating flexible pages and as Android development, which requires a responsive mindset to work on the myriad devices and screen sizes Android supports, reaches critical mass, responsive design in new websites will start to outnumber traditional, static web design.