Like most aspects of business in 2020, creative direction came with a set of challenges we hadn’t anticipated. The old adage of “photos speak louder than words” became an underlying current as we navigated the new normal of our campaigns. Do you reference the pandemic in photography and video? Are you seen as insensitive if you don’t? Which situations are no longer appropriate to show? Our designers had to ask these questions daily and assess what would be most successful in conveying our and our clients’ visions.

As we looked to other industries, photography was gritty and pragmatic, accurately reflecting the tone of the country. Consumers were bombarded with imagery reminding them of the tough situations they were now facing. This became difficult to consume. At the end of the year, we started to see brands shed this dark persona and turn to a new light.

We’re in this together.

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We predict creative direction for 2021 will take an optimistic spin, showcasing warm illuminating light. Pantone named its 2021 colors of the year, Illuminating and Ultimate Gray, describing them as, “A marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.” The combination of these colors suggests the notion of Realistic Optimism. Yellow evokes sunshine and warmth, while Gray brings you back to reality with a strong foundation. While we can’t avoid what is going on in the world, utilizing this duality of color palettes can help soften and ground the sentiment we’re evoking in our designs.

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Photography and storytelling will also employ this dose of realistic optimism by telling relatable stories that pose a positive outlook. We’ll seek out stories of strength and scenes that show people safely gathering. The warm, illuminating palette will carry over into photography as seen in these photos. Facial expressions will be optimistic and expectant, and the introduction of people holding hands, hugging, and communing together will return.

While we’re cautious about the future, creative direction will help shape our outlook by reminding us of what’s possible.

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