9 design trends for summer 2020 to update your next presentation

When we think of trends, most of us think of the fashion industry, where staying at the forefront of emerging styles is just part of the fabric. However, in graphic design, as in fashion, being on trend is everything. Graphic designers that stay up to date have a significant advantage, putting themselves in the unique position to offer clients innovative ideas that their competitors won’t think of. By constantly updating their design repertoire and melding evolving trends with their own person style, great graphic designers guarantee their continuing relevance.

At Buffalo 7, we guarantee our clients’ continuing relevance by constantly refreshing our sources of inspiration, pushing ourselves to leave our comfort zones and consuming as much external graphic design as we can fit in our eye holes. Our clients need to stand out in order to leave a lasting impression. By integrating graphic design trends with their brand styles, we ensure their presentations, webinars and screen shares blow the competition out of the water. 

In this article, we’re going to take a look through 9 graphic design trends for this summer, as identified by Merehead, and provide a variety of ideas as to how you can work these into your next presentation.

Design trends

  1. Bright colours
  2. Interactive elements
  3. Illustrations
  4. 3D layouts
  5. Asymmetric layouts
  6. Isometric illustrations
  7. Serif fonts
  8. Minimalism
  9. Animated logos

Presentation design trend 1: Bright colours

When used correctly, bright colours can make key information pop and conjure excitement, joy and intrigue. They inject energy, vibrancy and radiance into your designs and show your brand personality in just a quick glance. 

However, it can be difficult to get the balance right. Working with bright colours requires care, as your designs can all too easily turn into a rainbow nightmare. Here are a few ways to implement this trend, without turning every slide into a sad clown show:

All brights and white space

Using bright colours on a white background is a great way to implement this trend without making your audience nauseous. Give your colours the room to breathe by balancing them out with plenty of white space, offering much-needed contrast to the intense brightness of the on-slide elements.

Dark and stormy

An alternative way to create contrast is to juxtapose bright colours with dark backgrounds. The dark background adds more drama to a slide than when using white space, and bright colour highlights will ensure even those at the back of the room receive your message, loud and clear.

Just a splash

When adding bright colours to your presentation and webinar designs, less is usually more. Create on-trend slides without completely overhauling your designs by including small pops of colour, sparingly. Choose a select few bright colours and add some text highlights to bring out key points, or geometric shapes to add depth to your designs. 

Presentation slide with bright colour

Extra tips and tricks

  • While getting to grips with colour, start by limiting yourself to one or two bright colours per presentation, this way you won’t risk overwhelming your audience.
  • Don’t allow yourself to get so swept up in the colour pop trend that you venture off brand. The most important thing is that your slides represent who you are.
  • Never use colour alone to convey meaning. You never know who’s going to be viewing your slides. Perhaps colour means something different to them, or perhaps they can’t see colour at all. Always combine colour and copy to get your point across.

Presentation design trend 2: Interactive elements

In web UX, interactive elements give users unexpected moments of delight and instant feedback. While web users expect interactivity from their time online, most audiences will think you’re some kind of wizard if you integrate interactive elements into your slides. 

By taking a cue from web design, you can make your presentation stand out from the crowd, create bursts of motion they won’t be expecting, and completely immerse your audience in your message. Here are just a few ways to make your presentations more interactive, whether it’s delivered in-person or remotely:

Menu systems

The simplest way to add interactivity into your presentation is to create a menu system. Instead of being controlled by the linear nature of your slides, give your audience the freedom to choose what they want to talk about. To turn your agenda into a menu, all you need to do is right-click on the object you want to act as the trigger, select Link… and choose the slide you want to go to.   

Hovers

Hovers work just like hyperlinks, but without the need to click. This trick is great for replicating those little feedback elements that make web so intuitive. Try adding subtle animations to clickable elements, such as your menu icon, which only play if your mouse hovers over, indicating that there’s more to be found if they click through.

Create a hover effect by using the Action button in the Insert tab. Choose Mouse Over to trigger your animation when you hover, then simply select the slide that holds that hidden animation. 

Gamification

We’ve made no secret of our love for PowerPoint parties, but turning your deck into an interactive game isn’t just for Friday nights with your friends. Once you’ve got to grips with hyperlinking, your imagination really is the only thing standing in your way. Get your audience playing a game and they will be instantly and emotionally invested in your pitch. 

You could create a simple multiple-choice question, with each answer linking to either a slide confirming they are correct, or one that lets them know they don’t know the subject matter as well as they thought they did. At Buffalo 7, we’re big fans of starting a presentation with a controversial statement, but you could go one better by purposefully getting the audience to answer a question you know they hold misconceptions around. Then proceed to explain exactly why everything they believe about the subject is wrong, and how you can help right it.

Extra tips and tricks

  • Try using Kiosk Mode to create a presentation that mirrors web interactions by restricting navigation, only allowing users to move around using the pre-determined links.
  • Keep your file size small to guarantee slick hovers and seamless transitions.

Presentation design trend 3: Illustrations

Illustrations find their way onto the top trends lists every single year, but they shouldn’t be overlooked as illustration styles are constantly evolving. Illustrations are a visual way to explain an idea or tell a story, and they come in many forms, so you’re sure to find one that matches your brand style and suits your audience.

Illustrations are versatile, aesthetically pleasing, and they have the freedom to exist without words, while still communicating powerful ideas in an instant. As they don’t rely on reality, using illustrations in your presentation design gives you the opportunity to create something truly original and communicate complex and abstract ideas clearly. 

The illustration styles we’re seeing emerge this year include geometric patterns, atmospheric gradients, and lino printing. Here’s how you can use illustrations to tell your brand story:

geometric pattern design trend

Style and substance

Pick a style that works with your brand identity and stick to that style throughout all your communications. Once you’ve chosen your illustration style, they should be displayed proudly in your brand guidelines so that your entire team is on the same page. 

There are numerous online resources for illustration source files, such as Shutterstock, where you can download entire packs to guarantee you’re consistent with your style. Once you’ve picked a pack, make sure you download them as vectors, making alterations easy and retaining quality at scale. 

Once you’re happy with your illustrations, save them as .svg file types so that they can be converted to objects in PowerPoint. This will allow you to bring your illustrations to life through animation. 

Extra tips and tricks

  • Start every illustration project with a hand-drawn scamp to test the layout and concept before you start building.
  • Accessibility is just as important for illustrations as text. Consider using a dark outline around your illustrations to ensure clarity.
  • Using tones of a few colours will give you a broader palette, while keeping your designs looking chic.

Presentation design trend 4: 3D objects

If you’re suffering from flat, boring slides, you have less of an excuse than ever since the addition of 3D models in a recent Office update. Implementing 3D objects will bring your presentations to life, make your brand assets jump out from the page, and create a vivid world your audience will want to dive into.

Once you’ve got to grips with this extra dimension, the applications for using 3D models are almost limitless. You could allow your audience to interact with digital versions of your products, rotating them to show every angle, before revealing the inner mechanics on click. 

You could create a 3D map to highlight the central location of your office and drop your clients right into the action. 

You could travel around the globe and dive into any country you want. 

Or you could bring your proposed property plans to life, immersing your prospective investors in the project.

All this without leaving PowerPoint.

Throw your audience into a 3D world and push the boundaries of presentation design.

Office 365 users can access a library of 3D objects without even leaving PowerPoint by navigating to the Insert tab. From there, you have the choice to add a file from your computer or search for your perfect 3D model.

The number of online resources for 3D models, such as Turbosquid, is growing constantly, so you should be able to find what you’re looking for. Then it’s down to you to bring your creation to life.

Make your models interactive with hyperlinks that appear to control movement and trigger hidden information, and animate to enhance immersion and confuse reality further. 

3D objects in PowerPoint

Extra tips and tricks

  • Try integrating apps, such as Trnio, to scan real-world objects and see them appear digitally.

Presentation design trend 5: Asymmetric layouts

Despite the connotations, designers use asymmetry to create balance and harmony in their work. This trend can be particularly effective in slide design, creating intriguing and unexpected layouts that draw your audience in, show them unique, eye-catching designs, and direct their eye to the heavier areas of the slides, controlling their experience. 

Good asymmetrical design achieves its own form of balance. Although one area of your slide may have more elements than another you never want to make one section too heavy for the rest. This takes practice, but ultimately you have to trust your gut. Just like your audience, you’ll know if the slide feels “off”.

You can create balance in numerous ways, here are just a couple:

Contrasting busy elements with white space

Asymmetrical design works great when integrated with minimalism (which just so happens to be trend number 8). You can create the desired balance by focusing all your carefully-chosen elements in one area of your slide, leaving the rest blank. This balancing act between negative space and content will create contrast, and leave you, as designer, in control of your audience’s focus.

Creating emphasis with motion

As well as disruption in patterns and contrasting colours, the human eye prioritises movement. Just think about the last time you were outside at night. With everything plunged into darkness, it’s hard to know where to look. However, when something moves in your peripherals, your eye darts instinctively in that direction. 

You can apply this same idea to your asymmetrical slides to achieve the desired balance. Of course, with PowerPoint you have the luxury of animation, but you can achieve motion in other ways. For example, the eye will naturally scan in the direction you read, unless there is a powerful pull in the other direction. You can create this pull in a number of ways, such as adding directional cues, like an arrow or sharp, pointed object. Alternatively, try using photography where the subject is looking in a certain direction, then your audience will naturally follow their eyeline.   

Child on bike looking in direction on a PowerPoint slide

Extra tips and tricks

  • You can still use a grid for alignment and organisation, just change how you use it. Rather than imagining each side as a mirror image of the other, play with different grid styles, such as columns of an odd number or varying widths.
  • Create simple asymmetry by using a background image that’s already done the work for you. Many images will have one focal point, offset with a background that’s plain or out of focus. 
  • You can also use the tips from trend one of this blog to redirect focus to a bright pop of colour on your asymmetric layout.

Presentation design trend 6: Isometric illustrations

Isometric illustrations are a way to depict three-dimensional objects on two-dimensional surfaces. They use isometric perspective, making the audience feel as though they are viewing the world from above. This is a simple way to create elaborate scenes with just a few re-usable elements, without having to worry about scale or perspective.

Isometric illustrations

Isometric illustrations are relatively simplistic. This evokes the beauty of flat design with added depth and dimension, while file sizes remain small. As well as this, source files are easy to come by, so creating your isometric world won’t take much scouring online. 

There are numerous applications where isometric illustrations reign supreme. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Show the inner workings of a complicated product
  • Turn flat-pack furniture into easy-to-understand visual instructions
  • Create simple character scenes 
  • Or build an entire virtual world

Extra tips and tricks

  • Looking to create your own isometric illustrations? Start with an isometric grid as a guide.
  • Use realistic isometric illustrations on bright colour backgrounds to draw people into your designs.
  • When animating isometrics in PowerPoint, consider the angles of the illustration and animate to compliment them.

Presentation design trend 7: Serif fonts

Serifs are the small features found at the end of strokes in some font families.

You know, the fonts with the extra little fancy bits.

This isn’t just a decorative flourish. Serifs are used to guide the horizontal flow of the eye across the page. When used for slide body copy, serifs increase the contrast and spacing between letters, improving identification, increasing legibility, and reducing eye fatigue. Serifs can also represent a subtle and sophisticated side of your brand personality.

Serif font letter F

Some of our favourite serifs include:

System serifs

  • Palatino
  • Baskerville
  • Bookman old style

Google serifs

  • Playfair Display
  • Josefin slab 
  • Gabriela

Extra tips and tricks

  • Traditionalists will tell you that serifs should only be used in print, but this season, we’re seeing serifs more and more in digital design. Get ahead of the pack by adding them to your presentation now.
  • When working with serifs, be careful not to take your font size too small, as those little lines merge into a complicated mess and become impossible to read.
  • Try pairing a serif with a sans serif font to highlight key points and add contrast to typography.

Presentation design trend 8: Minimalism

Minimalist design uses only the essentials. By giving up the extra elements, everything that remains has a purpose. Think like Marie Kondo and ask yourself if you really need that extra design feature.

Cluttered slides make more work for your audience. If they have to search for your meaning, it’s likely they’re not going to bother. By stripping all the excess out, you can emphasise the key points you want them to remember. On top of this, clean, minimalist design is classic, elegant and beautiful when done right and can communicate the sophistication of your brand without words.

Minimalist presentation design trend

To achieve minimalist perfection, follow these simple rules:

  • Use plenty of negative space. This doesn’t have to be white, you can play around with other neutrals.
  • Stick to a limited colour palette. On top of your monochrome base, only add one or two other colours. 
  • Use simple shapes, sparingly.
  • Introduce clean, simple typography. Your font style should be minimalist too: watch out for extravagant strokes.
  • Before adding anything, ask yourself what its purpose is. If you can’t answer that question, don’t include it.

Presentation design trend 9: Animated logos

The age of static design has passed. Brands are breathing fresh air into their logos through motion. Good logos tell the world who you are, and this form of communication can be enhanced when combined with animation. Show your personality in the way your logo moves, how it interacts with other elements, its speed, intensity, form, and colour. The opportunities to tell the next evolution of your brand story are limitless once you’ve opened this door.

Animating your logo will also modernise your brand, showing the world you understand where branding trends are headed, and you’re thinking about the future. You can grab audience attention through clever motion, evoking emotions and building lasting relationships.

Where you use your animated logo should influence the story you tell. When integrating your logo into your presentations, there are some unique considerations to acknowledge.

First, consider where to use your animated logo within your presentation. Adding over-the-top animation, of any kind, to heavy slides will detract from the message. Instead of forcing the file onto every slide, try using it on the holding slide, to grab your audience’s attention as they’re waiting for you to begin. 

Another consideration is the length of your animation. With so much to say, you might feel the urge to create a full-length Pixar story, but your audience don’t have the time for this. Keep your logo animation short and sweet, under five seconds is perfect.

Bring it all together

When designing your next presentation, following your brand guidelines and creating a style that represents you is the most important thing. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t also show your potential clients that you’re a forward-thinking brand with your finger on the pulse. The talented presentation designers at Buffalo 7 love to stay ahead of emerging trends, revelling in the challenge of creating the perfect balance between established client branding and exciting new design developments. Whatever the next big trend, our ultimate goal is always to create next-level presentations that position our clients as innovators in their field. 

Ask for help designing your presentation.

Contact us at:  
+44 (0)161 533 7777  
[email protected]

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