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3 Social Media Graphic Design Trends for 2020

3 Social Media Graphic Design Trends for 2020

Home Blog Social Media 3 Social Media Graphic Design Trends for 2020

Social media is ever-changing. And I’m not just talking from a platform standpoint.

Those changes occur almost instantaneously these days, especially whenever Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, roll out new features.

But I’m also talking about changes on social media from a content and design standpoint.

Over the past few years, social media was dominated by vivid colors, geometric shapes, light and dark color schemes, as well as hand-drawn illustrations.

In 2020, graphic design trends will be all about differentiating yourself from the overly popular and rethinking design to be more rooted in genuine connections. 

But which social media trends are going to be the new norm in 2020?

We looked at thousands of graphics across Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Behance and more to figure that out.

And I have an answer for you.

Here are 3 new social media graphic design trends that are going to be trending in 2020:

  1. Muted Color Palettes
  2. Abstract Illustrations
  3. Genuine Stock Photos
Holiday Marketing Toolkit 2020

1. Muted Color Palettes

In 2019, vivid colors came back. In 2020, brands are likely to move away from flashy colors and use muted ones instead.

What are Muted Colors?

Muted colors are vivid colors that have had their “edge” taken off with neutral colors. This desaturation is achieved by adding black, white or any other complementary color.


Why use muted colors?

Muted colors make designs appear more natural and easier on the eyes. A brand like Classpass does this well:



In the above example, there’s still a lot of colors being used but it doesn’t distract from the message or text at all. If they would have used vivid colors the images would be a lot more abrasive.

Because of that infusion, muted colors work almost flawlessly with neutral colors. In the following example, the black background and muted colors blend almost perfectly:



The increasing use of muted colors doesn’t mean that the design world is getting less colorful. It means that design pieces will look a lot more natural in 2020.

For example, the designers at LinkedIn are still using a plethora of colors, just with reserved shades:



How do you implement muted colors in your design?

Start with your brand colors (or pick random colors)., Add black, or white, and experiment with different shades. And there you have it! A palette of muted colors at your disposal.

2. Abstract Illustrations

In the crowded social media space, one way to stand out is to unleash your creativity and share abstract illustrations. No boring stock photos or generic designs!

The real kicker? No company can completely copy your illustrations and every brand will have a unique take on this trend.

The prime example of a company adopting abstract illustrations is Casper. And they have stuck with this trend ever since:


Casper were first movers with this trend, which prevented any copycats from mimicking their designs and gave their social presence a fresh identity.

But like with any trend, once everyone starts using illustrations the uniqueness wears off very quickly.

So why not go all out with the imaginative or dreamy illustrations in 2020?

It seems to be what successful brands are going to do this year.  Here’s an example of this with abstract illustrations from Doist:


The illustrations above are as unique as it gets. The designers truly to create something memorable and even incorporated muted color palettes to enhance their designs! 

Now I know that creating illustrations like this can be hard if you don’t have a dedicated illustrator on staff. But you can find a lot of icons and illustrations for free on Venngage and other design tools:

The only other hiccup (and maybe I’m being picky here) is the absence of any sort of branding to differentiate a company’s design from the other.

It’s really hard to create a consistent visual brand when each of your social images are unique works of art!

To avoid this, Slack simply added their logo to all their designs.



To conclude, while these graphics look appealing to the eyes, they’re worthless if they don’t convey the right message (or any message at all). When briefing an illustrator,   make sure that your message is central and understood by your target audience.

3. Genuine Stock Photos

A few years ago, bright, bold and colorful stock images were extremely popular. Designers would oversaturate the colors and the photos would look anything but real.


The unrealistic stock photo quickly went from trending to a passing fad. This means, in 2020 we’re going to see more natural, muted and genuine looking stock photos come to the limelight.


We can see in this example that not only are the photographs more candidly posed, the photographers have also toned down the colors to make them softer.

Remember that muted color palettes give your photographs and graphics a more realistic look. The examples below look like something you would see if you visited those locations:


The popularity of genuine stock photos is only going to continue to grow as brands try to become more authentic on social media.

Now I know what you’re thinking, genuine stock photos? That’s an oxymoron in itself. By their very definition stock photos are supposed to be ambiguous enough so that you can use them in a variety of situations.

But genuine-looking, if not entirely genuine, stock photos are going to be crucial for your social feeds this year. And if your brand is still isn’t using them, they will stick out like a sore thumb.

Holiday Marketing Toolkit 2020

Bringing It All Together

After studying thousands of shares and graphics we think that social media trends in 2020 will be all about realism, pushing creativity to the forefront and greater focus on genuine over generic.

Brands on social media are going to focus a lot more on muted colors, flowing illustrations, genuine stock photos in an attempt to keep their social properties distinctive from the herd while delighting their followers in the process.

Are you looking to apply these trends to your own designs? Pick one and start experimenting with it. Then slowly introduce the other trends to the mix, combine them in unique ways and there you have it!

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Aditya Sheth

Guest Blogger @Mention