Curious about what tomorrow will bring for design, content, technology and business development, and for our clients and their customers, we are looking ahead to ask “What’s next?” We’ve asked the Designsensory team to chime in on their thoughts for some of the “big topics” they see making an impact this year.

Let us know how these might fit into your branding, and what other trends you find relevant to your business.


Joseph Nother | Creative Director & Principal

3D Printing
The technology has gone from $30,000 a few years ago to $499 today. The ability for us to truly create and replicate objects will be a quiet, gradual crescendo but one that has deep implications for society. Small-scale manufacturing will force another evolution of merchandising and commerce as well as culture with respect to localism and decentralized manufacturing. Here’s something to consider.

Coexisting with Technology and Information
The countermovement to the idea that we are too saturated with technology and information will continue. People will continue to wrestle with where to commit their precious time and attention. In doing so, the pressure for brands to differentiate and deliver value will only increase. At the same time, there might be resonance in messages that emphasize a return to offline activities.

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).

Matt Honkonen | Business Development

Sensory Intelligence (products like XBOX Kinect & Google Glasses)
Interacting with media and content is moving from point and click to motion and audio cues.

Susan Hamilton | Content Developer, Writer, Editor

“Fidgital” and More Effects of Smartphone Use
A growing body of research is tying obsessive smartphone use to anxiety, sleep loss and dangerous behaviors. With so many of us dependent on our phones for scheduling, information, connectivity and even waking up in the morning, the New York Times has coined the phrase “fidgital” to describe how we itch to look, to answer, to check just one more time.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, says that the need to know what’s going on around us is an important primitive desire that has helped us survive. But, today, the excessive interruptions that accompany an omnipresent cellphone may be diminishing our ability to concentrate, to think deeply, to focus for longer periods or to even be alone with our thoughts.

“The smartphone . . . changes our relationship with computers in a way that goes well beyond what we experienced with laptops,” he says. Of smartphone users, studies have shown that 70 percent check it within an hour of getting up; about half check it continuously during vacations and on weekends; and 44 percent say they would feel “a great deal of anxiety” if they were without a phone for a week.

Why it matters to us at DS: How can we better structure our mobile design and content to give users meaningful information without feeding the compulsive “checking” for more?

Matt Montgomery | Graphic Designer

Smart TV
Both Apple and Google launched new and improved versions of their smart TV set-top boxes in 2012. Look for both to continue to push forward in this new market. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has stated he wants to revamp the current TV experience. As these companies and others forge forward, look for more and more customers to abandon cable providers that haven’t evolved with the times. The catch will be what content is available. While Netflix and Hulu Plus offer users many options, traditional cable providers will slow this process down by clinging to their dated multichannel pay TV model as long as they can.


Joseph Nother | Creative Director & Principal

Data-driven Creativity
Collecting data is no longer the challenge. Interpreting data into meaningful bites and using empathy and insights to drive creative solutions is the new art-science. The brands that have the foresight to risk resources in a educated trial and error will uncover new opportunities, learn much and gain even more.

Sarah Loebner | Graphic Designer

The Color of Design
I expect to see an increase in unique color exploration. With design leaning toward cleaner, simpler styling, color choices are becoming more important, and our clients seem to be more open to alternative color options.

Matt Montgomery | Graphic Designer

Look for the use of skeuomorphism, the practice of having interface elements mimic real world objects (e.g., making a note-taking application look like real paper), to continue to fade. Many major interface and OS designers have already begun to abandon useless real world metaphors. This trend can be seen in Google’s Android phones & tablets, Microsoft’s new Windows 8 OS and Amazon’s Kindle OS. Apple remains a straggler here, but I believe they will follow this trend as many of their applications start to feel clunky and “toylike” compared to competitors.


Matt Honkonen | Business Development

Content, Content, Content
Brands will be focusing more and more attention and marketing spend on content creation. This will also trickle into social sharing and content curation.

Susan Napier-Sewell | Content Developer, Writer, Editor

Content: Getting it Right
The lifeblood of an organization, content in all its forms—words, photos, graphics, illustrations, video and more—drives business and communicates brands. For those confined within a conventional publishing box, content creation, management and delivery continue to present challenges.

In 2013, more organizations will make the liberating journey toward and commitment to sound, intelligent content, reaping the benefits of refreshed and re-evaluated core messages and more, and stepping up to offer enriched user experiences. That translates to the right information reaching the right people at the right time in the right format and language on the device of a customer’s choosing.

Ways & Means: Content Marketing
Many marketers are still doing considerable head-scratching regarding effective implementation and results-measuring for the bright, shiny object called content marketing. Buck the head-scratching trend, and take stock of how you’re doing from the lists below while it’s early in the year.

Which types of content marketing do you use?

What percentage of your budget is dedicated to content marketing?

Erin Slattery | Content Assitant 

Social Content is the New “King”
Social media is no longer a nominal marketing experiment. It has proved itself in the marketing arena. Businesses realize its power to persuade and are willing to put forth the dollars—quite a few dollars at that—to boost their social weight. That being said, 2013 is about curating these efforts and rising above the social clutter. A strategic combination of content, engagement and promotions will prove most effective in reaching, maintaining and satisfying hungry audiences.

Tailored Content
Audiences continue to demand content that is tailored to them. As websites grow more responsive, so must our content. Our audiences want more control over the content they view and the way they view it. Location-based specials and in-store promotions pushing consumers to social sites are just a couple of examples in the push to create a more personalized and localized customer experience.

Relevance Trumps Spread
Companies have quickly learned that while content is “King,” it is also expensive to produce and can become stale quickly. Focus your resources on keeping content relevant rather than trying to reach wider audiences.


Lauren Glisson | Content Assistant 

Distance Learning
Fairly new to business is the power of “distance learning.” This is the power to bring in speakers or professors from a different city, state, country, with no cost. Students experience different cultures for free, using just plain old technology.

Currently, this technique is used in university classrooms and grades K-12, but this method can also be brought to the business scene. People in the branding and design field, such as those here at Designsensory, can now integrate clients and other business leaders from far away into our business at the click of a button, facilitating meetings, clients, and helping achieve global recognition.