No matter what industry you're in, it's important to know your competition. You can learn what they're doing right, what the market wants, and also what you could do better than they are, and how to make yourself stand out from them.
When designing your visual brand, it's equally as important to know the industry trends for visual brands. Educating yourself on the visual language being used in your space allows you to speak in ways your target audience is familiar with, while also avoiding looking like a clone of a someone else's business.
With that said, once a month I'm going to be researching "trends" in certain online business niches. I use the term trends loosely, because what I'm looking for is patterns and similarities among top-Google-ranked businesses, not necessarily new and popular visual brand styles.
This month I'm looking at online business coaches.
Online business coaching is an industry that's grown rapidly in the past few years. Like any industry that sees sudden growth, there are people looking to take advantage of entrepreneurial hopefuls, and online business coaches have gotten a bit of a bad reputation lately.
However, online business coaching is a completely legitimate business model. If you're just starting out building your business, it's hard to figure out what you should do, when, and for how much. It's helpful to have someone who can take you through the logistical aspects of starting a business and also lend moral support as you go through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. I worked with a business coach for quite a few months when I made the shift from general design freelancing to brand design and management and it was a great investment.
Let's get into the trends.
For logos, I saw three major trends, and rarely did any coaches deviate from them.
(If the business had a logo - I was surprised to find quite a few successful coaches didn't have one. But I don't remember their names because they didn't have a logo.)
Especially for male business coaches, heavy san-serif logos were popular. They feel imposing, and action-oriented.
Female business coaches just love signature-reminiscent script logos.
Using your initials as your main logo was popular with both male and female coaches. Interestingly, initial logos were used on the cheapest and most luxurious-looking brands. Not much in the middle ground.
For color palettes, I found three major trends, mostly divided by gender of the coach and target audiences.
Red & Blue
For male coaches, or coaching businesses aimed at mostly men, red and blue or red-orange and blue was by far the most popular color combination. These color palettes tended to show up in brands focused on sports-inspired coaching techniques. They took the traditional idea of a coach and put it right in their color palette.
Gold & Black
Gold and black, sometimes paired with splashes of bright color, dominated women-focused online coaching businesses.
Online coaches without a obvious gendered audience stuck to monochrome color palettes, either in blues or cool grays. A few also used one vibrant color for call-outs or buttons.
Font choices were the most consistent of visual branding choices among online business coaches.
San Serif Families
95% of the businesses I researched used san serif font families in their visual brand. Because their businesses are online-focused, san serif fonts are the obvious choice, and using a san serif font family is an easy way to create cohesive hierarchy in web design.
Sometimes paired with san serif font families, script headers were popular with the cheaper-looking visual brands. (And one high-end feminine brand.)
So what do you do with this information, as an online business coach?
For starters, if your entire visual brand was just described by these trends - figure out how you can stand out.
I don't recommend not using any of these trends in your visual brand - they're working on some level for many different coaches. But you can take what's working and add your own twist to it.
Let me know in the comments below: what industries do you want me to research visual brand trends in next?
Are you an online business coach who needs to update their visual brand? Check out my Noteworthy Visual Brand Starter Kit.
I'm a brand designer who helps business owners who are tired of their marketing efforts just pulling "okay" results. I help them stand out and be remembered online by designing them a Noteworthy Visual Brand that attract their ideal clients - effortlessly.