Design Trends Are Like Cupcake Decorations

Nolan Marketti-Morales

In today’s age, design has become centric to a business and its success. From branding, to web, to print. The call for good designers is out there, and competition is fierce.

With the tremendous growth of designers and sites such as Dribbble for the creative community, there are also a handful of designers who are cake decorators.

Cake Decorators — A designer who lacks a holistic view of the design process and focused making things look trendy, rather than meeting business goals and objectives.

Ditch the Trends

Strategy first, style second. Don’t get me wrong, style is important. Style defines a designer. For example, I strongly believe in minimalist design. I live by the grid, and white space. Are you experimental or illustrative? Maybe you’re more experimental? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having some style. But far too often, especially on sites like Dribbble it’s more about cake decorating and trying to create the coolest thing “on the line” than solving a real problem for businesses with solid strategy.

*insert animated GIF here*

Strategy and thoughtful design that is created around business objectives and the consumer drives businesses forward

When a designer only designs around trends, it limits a brand in the long term. Create something ownable, unique and true to the soul of the brand. If they are bold and electric then go for that “in the now” large typography. Or better yet, go against the current and try something more experimental that really stands out.

Have Style, but First Solve the Problem

Every good designer has one primary trait in common — they are problem solvers. Whether businesses consciously know it or not, design helps them solve problems and achieve goals. Those goals could be brand awareness, increase sales, attract customers to their stores and website or even attract more talent through their doors. And if they don’t know or understand that, it’s our job to educate them.

Designers are not “Yes Men”. Designers are educators and creators who help businesses thrive and succeed through the power of design.

The Process of Solving a Design Problem

Let’s consider a design problem as the actual process of making a dozen of delicious, soft cupcakes. Making them is a process and if you make even the smallest mistake in the beginning, you’re doomed at the first bite.


Imagine discovery as the main ingredients. You need to gather everything you need to start a project. Who a company is, what they believe, and what are their business goals and objectives? If you’re missing key information, you can’t create a solid plan moving forward.


Ask yourself, would you ever make cupcakes without a proper recipe? Let me know how that goes. Putting all the insights you’ve gained from discovery is arguably the most important part. Creating a solid strategy and plan will help everything come together smoothly. Eliminate the guesswork. Everyone has their own process of strategizing, so it’s up to you to find what works best for your clients.


Concept and Ideation. As in baking, each cook will have it’s own techniques and preferences when baking. Every designer has their own way of concepting and ideation. Sketch, scribble or a glass of whiskey.


Now it’s time to add your style. Go nuts and add sprinkles. Just make sure it fits the brief at hand.

Be Flexible

It’s okay to re-use styles and techniques for both print and on web. Some trends are creative and unique while some are extremely overused and have become bland. This is by no means a “never follow a trends” guide.

Be holistic in your approach. Create a great strategy, solve a difficult problem. Don’t just put frosting on top the cake, make sure it tastes fucking delicious from the inside out.

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