Marketing to Millennials: Adapting to Modern Design Trends

Geri Mileva on Content Marketing

Marketing to MillenialsWhat is the millennial aesthetic?

Is there even such a thing?

The millennial generation has a penchant for authenticity, quality, creativity, and transparency. When they visit a website, they expect a simple yet well put-together platform that can deliver an excellent user experience.

The same can be said for your other online platforms. Millennials will look for those values in your brand, through your social media posts or the ads you put out. Moreover, these values determine their preferences in terms of design.

Who are millennials?

Demographers can’t seem to agree on an exact date range for this generation. But the Pew Research Center, an organization that has been studying millennials for over a decade, identifies anyone born between 1981 and 1996 as a millennial.

Compared to the generations before them, millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. That means calls and pop ups aren’t going to be enough to win them over.

Millennials will usually remain loyal to brands that they care about and respect if they continue to cater to their needs. But before you reap such benefits, you need to reach out to them.

That’s where design comes in.

Keeping up with the latest design trends should help you market to the generation that makes up 25% of the U.S. population.

Here are a few important facts about millennials that you should know about:

  • 1 in 4 millennials are already parents today

  • 2.5 times more likely to adapt new technology than other generations

  • Nearly 50% of this generation is willing to embrace a company that supports a cause

  • 75% want businesses to give back to the community

Facts About Millenials

What sets the millennial aesthetic apart from other design trends?

The design trends that resonate with millennials are often contradictory. That makes it easier to separate them from the rest.

Millennials, for instance, have an inclination for contemporary styles like sleek lines, yet they like vintage aesthetic integrated into design.

Again, the values that they hold dear determine their preferences. Once you are able to fully grasp who the millennials are, you will have no trouble innovating and tailoring your marketing strategies to meet their needs.

Are past design trends doomed to fail today?

An ad for cookware featuring a woman in an apron while she beams at her husband won’t be as effective today as it probably was ages ago.

The same goes for trends that were popular ten years ago, five years ago, or a year ago that aren’t as well-liked as they are today.

But do note that design trends cycle in and out.  You might see trends that are being brought back and are being reinvented.

And when they do make a strong comeback, it should be safe to incorporate them once again into your marketing campaigns.

Classics vs. Outdated Design Trends

Millennials are drawn to anything that has a retro vibe to it. However, they don’t like it when it appears too old-timey. That’s why you will see sleek modern vectors being paired with vintage color palettes.

One particular color that’s a result of the fusion between the love for both old and new is millennial pink. This retro-inspired muted shade of pink is all the rage these days. The same goes for 80’s as well as 90’s color schemes. They are becoming popular again.

These new takes on classic trends will surely excite millennial audiences, and it should provide a hint of nostalgia to any design.

Another retro-inspired trend that’s bound to blow up this 2018 is the use of highly-detailed vintage aesthetics. Though this isn’t practical for all business niches, it has become quite popular in the food and beverage industry.

Well, those into wine and spirits, in particular, have been leveraging this style for years. Not only does it give brands that top-shelf look, it also creates that hand-crafted and hearty feeling that alludes to much simpler times.

Past vs. Current Design Trends

Flat design is defined by the minimalist use of colors and typography. It focuses on functionality and tosses out complicated design elements. This style of user interface has reigned over the digital world in the last couple of years.

This year, however, you will see less of flat designs and more of color transitions and depth in digital media.

Flat designs are getting a makeover this 2018. Industry leaders like Instagram have brought back gradient transitions and incorporated them into flat designs. Creative professionals refer to this style evolution as color transition.

Though the term was once used interchangeably with the word gradient, it is now used to refer to the modern and more vibrant application of color to flat design.

Another trend we see popping up these days is realism. Yes, shadows are making a comeback in 2018. Like gradients, they are being used to enhance flat designs. Shadows are a practical aspect of design as they help establish visual hierarchy.

Yet, it was scrapped as we leaned towards minimalism and 2D aesthetics. But thanks to Google, who reintroduced shadows to enhance their UI, designers have been impressed and are now creating their own take on this trend.

Modern Design Trends

1. Movement or Animation

Millennials love microinteractions. These are the short animations on apps that make it appear like you are manipulating the interface.

An example of this is Tinder’s swipe animation. Other animated graphics that millennials love are GIFs and SVGs.

These can make content more engaging and easier to absorb. Whether it’s for content marketing, email newsletters, or ads, the animated clips will pique the millennials’ interest.

2. Bold Typography

Sans serif fonts have always been a staple of online marketing. They are easy on the eyes and are readable in different screen sizes.

These days, designers are using sans serifs to make big and bold typography.  It has become the go-to aesthetic for digital media as it catches millennials’ attention and interest.

You might think that serif fonts appear too old-fashioned for a generation that lives and breathes technology, but they do have a place in this era.

Designers have usually avoided serifs for online marketing since they are not as readable as sans serif fonts. However, the rise of bold typography has brought them back to the screen.

The reemergence of serif fonts has paved way for decorative fonts and handmade scripts. They too are slowly gaining traction. Not only that, trends like experimental and artistic typography, which you normally see in print are bound to be applied in digital media.

3. Authentic Photography

Real-life photography is now an essential part of advertising. In the past 15 years, staged compositions have always been a principal element of advertising.

Nowadays, designers are looking for more emotion and action in photography. Millennials are drawn to brands that exude authenticity.

By incorporating photographs that convey emotions or photographs that tell stories into marketing campaigns, you should be able to strike a chord with the highly-coveted millennial generation. Authenticity can do more than draw attention. It can help you build brand loyalty.

Stock photography typically revolves around these staged compositions. Fortunately, photographers have been paying attention to the trends.

You can easily find free stock photos that capture the realness and authenticity that millennials seek for.

4. Color/Gradient Transitions

Aside from serif fonts, color transitions are making a comeback. If you still remember the early 2000s, you would know that gradients once graced websites, PowerPoint presentations, and even PDF files. It was everywhere mainly because it was considered cool. But sometime in 2007, there was a shift towards flat design.

To note, the era of flat design has yet to end. Color transitions are, in fact, being used to improve flat designs. Some call it Flat Design 2.0.

Others prefer the term semi-flat design.

The reemergence of gradient transitions is primarily due to industry leaders like Apple and Instagram who’ve embraced the design and used it for branding, illustrations, and overlays.


Marketing to millennials should be fundamental to any business. To thrive in such cutthroat times, businesses should learn to pay more attention to what the millennials want and don’t want.

Developing visually appealing designs is one of the most effective ways you can do to catch their attention as they are perpetually scrolling down their social media platforms.

Creating thumb-stopping designs is one of the first steps you can make to gaining their trust and loyalty. It’s creating welcome additions to their timelines rather than ads that they don’t know how to appreciate that will get you to build brand loyalty.

Marketing to a group with such wide-ranging demographics and varied hobbies and values is difficult, but not impossible.

So you can successfully implement the necessary design trends and marketing tactics to reach the millennial population, invest money and time into understanding who the millennial market is.



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