2020 Trends Guide

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 As a creative, there are so many different ways to keep up with the industry and stay on top of your game. One of those ways is to look ahead at what’s coming in the future. We’ve analyzed over 105 million searches from the past year and scoured visuals from advertising, social media and creative pioneers to bring you the top creative media trends for 2020. This year, we’ve broken it down in two ways — trending topics, and visual trends.

After analyzing searches across Storyblocks, the trending topics identified aren’t entirely surprising. Each of them tie into topics of social discourse that will continue to be in the spotlight in 2020.   

Influence of Societal Conversations



We’ve seen demand for social media themes skyrocket over the past year with 139% growth in the overall category. What’s clear now is how specific searches translate to intent — social influencers are looking to build an audience. With the rise of newer content platforms like IGTV, TikTok and Facebook Watch, there will be a major focus in 2020 on how aspiring influencers can expand their reach. The best way for them to do that? Making content. A lot of content, on a consistent schedule. As creators spend more time producing, it’s evident they will be turning to stock media for tools that can help speed up their workflow, like templated graphics and royalty-free music. Read more about the trend here.

The public conversation about mental health awareness experienced some positive strides in 2019 and will continue into 2020. Prominent pop culture icons, politicians and media figures have been opening up about their personal relationships with mental health, inspiring younger generations to do the same. The national opioid crisis will remain in the conversation as well, with the topic being covered in documentary, news, and even political campaigns. All of this translates to a 40% increase in demand of content related to mental health topics. We hope that this isn’t a true passing “trend,” but the start of a movement to normalize conversation about mental health illness and end the stigma. Read more about how mental health awareness is being covered in the media.

Artificial Intelligence is an emerging trend we’ve identified – meaning that there’s significant demand growth (40% to be exact), but with a smaller volume of overall searches. The conversation around how AI will impact aspects of both our personal and professional lives is still developing, and we predict it will be a major trend in 2020. This was a trend that we initially noticed subjectively, but is now being backed by search data. It will be particularly interesting to follow not only the content that stems from this trending topic, but how AI and Machine Learning are depicted visually. Read more about the rise of AI.

The Look and Feel of 2020

To research the most interesting visual trends we predict will pop in 2020, we pulled members of our creative, content and design teams to search, watch, flip and scroll. There were plenty of colors, treatments and typography that caught our eye, and the themes below are the most prominent ones we noticed in moving imagery.

We predict the retro trend as it will look in 2020 will be less about the visual style of one particular decade resurfacing, and more about “anything old is new.” We’re seeing influence from the 70’s, 90’s and early 2000’s, all hinging on nostalgia, creeping into today’s visual creative. This retro style is widespread, with TV, fashion, social media, graphic design, and more adopting it.

Common tags: Retro, Vintage, VHS

This trend is sort of the next generation of “authentic” imagery. We see it moving one step further into images and video that are unpolished and seemingly effortless, appearing much more like user generated content than professional imagery. Think muted colors, handheld cameras, real life “sets.” Though the style may feel raw, the look is very much intentional.

Common tags: Real, Authentic, First Person, Candid

This is one of the most exciting trends in visual media. Just as we’ve seen “shoppable” photos emerge on platforms like Instagram, in 2020 we think we’ll see more videos where the viewer plays a role in shaping the story. Early adopters of this visual format have made experiences ranging from customizable cooking lessons to choose-your-narrative ads. Creators implementing this trend will not only be storytellers, but incredibly technically-savvy.

Common tags: Call out, Pointer, Title

Our final trend is fun and unpredictable by nature. We’ve begun to see visual content that extends beyond the established boundaries of its medium. Think of content that blends together formats like footage and animation, or optical illusions that challenge the viewer’s perception of what’s real. It’s hard to pin down specific colors or styles being used with this trend – it’s all about how the creator transforms common visuals to make something unexpected and delightful.

Common tags: Scribble, Hand drawn, Overlay

 It’s an exciting time for visual media and we’ll be watching what creators are making in 2020. Keep an eye on the Storyblocks blog over the coming weeks for more creative trends-related content.