Bot doctors, life coaches, Instagram celebrities and drones—lots and lots of drones. This year, we’re welcoming a colorful cast of new companies into the world of business. Judging by our numbers, these emerging industries are on track to become the new norm by 2020.
At 99designs, we keep a close eye on what our clients need and how industries are evolving. By analyzing our data from as far back as 2013, we found four industries with extraordinary growth. These are most likely to hit a tipping point soon, if they haven’t already.
Last year, we gave our readers a head start on some of 2018’s biggest winners, and this year we’ll do the same. Below are the top four industries our data shows to be the strongest newcomers of 2019, along with the design trends most popular for each.
1. AI healthcare
Paging Dr. HAL. AI healthcare like virtual doctors, automated health apps, etc.—not to mention secondary services like apps for finding doctors near you—have been flirting with mainstream adoption for some time.
But judging by the work that’s been done for this industry on 99designs in the past 5 years, there’s been a 48% growth since 2013. It looks like it’s just now reaching a tipping point.
Artificial intelligence tech has made leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. The most likely explanation for why we’re seeing more AI healthcare companies lately is that we’ve only just now reached a point where the tech can actually deliver.
On top of that, affordable healthcare is still largely unavailable to a lot of people, including those in first-world countries. Even people with access to good healthcare find products like these to be more convenient time-savers—why go through the trouble of a doctor’s appointment when you can solve the problem on your phone?
In short, recent tech advances are allowing more companies to answer the already-high demand of the healthcare industries.
Best design trends for AI healthcare
For one thing, that means a lot blue, the most popular color in both industries. Blue represents trust and serenity, two high-priority concerns when dealing with people’s own health.
We also see a lot of health-centric imagery done in the tech industry’s favorite styles: isometrics (2D representation of 3D imagery, like the CAREiQ example) and minimalism (like the Phraze example). The illustration for Fexcom depicts what the connection between healthcare and tech looks like, both in its scenario and in its illustration style.
The typography in AI healthcare also leans towards the minimal. Simple, sans serif fonts appear more calming, comforting and straightforward—more advantageous when dealing with people’s health.
2. Personal coaching
Just last year, the personal coaching industry surpassed $1 billion. Lately the number of personal coaches requesting design work has spiked—a growth of 47% in the last five years—showing that the industry is blooming and the coaches themselves are profiting enough to reinvest in their own brand.
According to David Skibbins, the author of Becoming a Life Coach, the roots of personal coaching date back to the days of Plato in ancient Greece. Its recent popularity, he continues, owes itself to the corporate culture of “business mentoring” and its subsequent collapse, leading employees to seek guidance outside of their companies and in their personal lives.
The idea of a personal coach was a bit experimental when it was first introduced. Some people adopted it right away, but others had difficulties embracing the idea of having a coach for personal affairs. After a gestation period of a few years people realized the value of individual, in-person coaching—or mentoring—and its benefits over other self-development methods. Nowadays, there are personal coaches for all areas of life, and no one speaks for their effectiveness more than the happy clients.
Best design trends for personal coaching
There’s a surprising amount of variety in the types of life coaches: financial, romantic, spiritual, career, mental health, wellness and weight loss, to name some of the most common. Their focus usually determines which direction the brand design should take: coaches often use imagery relevant to their speciality (take for instance images of dollar bills for financial coaches or calming, meaningful visuals like lotus leaves for spiritual gurus).
Regardless, almost every personal coaching brand uses optimistic imagery—something to suggest that the brand can improve your life.
If you’re dealing with a design for an individual coach rather than a collective organization, it’s best to play up the personal aspect. Put their name front and center and use photos (or illustrations) of them wherever you can. The coach-client relationship is naturally intimate, so customers are more concerned with the person than the brand, even when they’re one-in-the-same.
3. Influencer agencies
Riding the wave of social media, influencers have spent the last decade carving out a niche for themselves as trusted, go-to sources for product recommendations. But in 2019, it’s not the influencers themselves who are requesting the most design work, but the agencies that work with them.
In fact, influencer agencies made 5x as many requests for design work on 99designs last year than they did in 2013—a whopping growth of 320%—and there was a particularly sharp increase between 2016 and 2018 when their numbers grew 79%.
Influencer agencies are essentially riding the coattails of influencers; they needed to wait for digital marketing to mature before the market was big enough to support their secondary services. And while influencers have always existed in one shape or another—from company spokespeople to expert testimonials—the digital influencer had to develop from scratch over the last two decades. The wait can be chalked up to the slow sophistication of social media and other online marketing.
By now, we have the experience (and sales figures) to prove without question how effective influencers are as advertisers. And as influencer marketing is becoming a standard practice, it creates more demand for agencies that can connect businesses with influencers.
Best design trends for influencer agencies
As the “middle man” between brands and social media personalities, influencer agencies have to appeal to both sides. This usually leads to a mixed business-casual aesthetic—fun and hip to appeal to the influencers, but formal enough to reassure clients. The InstaX home page is a good example, with its playful rainbow overlay over otherwise by-the-book website imagery.
Playing up the theme of interconnectivity is another common strategy for influencer agencies. Interconnectivity underlines not only the agency’s main goal of connecting companies with the right influencer, but also the big picture of influencers connecting with consumers. Kingfluencer’s web page does this well, using a visual of interconnecting points and incorporating real-life photography for a personal touch.
Drones are by no means “new,” but after an extended “take off” period, they’re now poised to become the big industry we all knew they’d be.
With just a few dozen design requests five years ago, the drone industry has since skyrocketed with 680% growth to be one of the most popular on this list.
Drones have already captured society’s imagination for years, so the question isn’t “why now” but “why not sooner?”
For one thing, just like the emerging AI healthcare industry, recent tech advancements have made drone technology more accessible than ever before. Not only do these advancements allow top-tier drone companies to offer more advanced services, they also lower the cost of standard features, opening the door for smaller startups that wouldn’t be able to afford opening a drone company a few years ago.
More accessibility also enables drone companies to specialize—photography, video, logistics, or even parts manufacturing. The industry is now also big enough to support other careers like drone reporting and drone tech analysts. What we’re seeing so far is an industry that grows horizontally almost as much as it does vertically.
Another key factor that held drone technology back for so long is regulations. Because drones are potentially dangerous, no one is quite sure how to regulate them. After all, it’s not like there’s any precedent to draw on. The drone industry got tied down for a few years under bureaucracy, but now it’s starting to emerge in full force.
Best design trends for drones
Although most of the design choices for drone companies depend on the brand personality, for the most part they aim for fun and playful. After all flying a drone is fun, even when you’re doing it for work.
That equates to a lot of bright colors and cartoony visuals. Drone brands usually adopt illustrated or pictorial logos, often a creative reimaging of the drone itself. In fact, because drones have such a distinct appearance, they’re often the key image, even if reinterpreted to be more childlike and appealing.
Another common theme in drone design is aerial shots. Drone company websites often showcase gorgeous landscapes shots from birds eye views (like the Home Filming example), often captured using the company’s own drone equipment. At the very least, most drone companies make some reference to flight or flying, as we see in Flewent.io’s winged camera logo.
Conclusion: A good time for tech
Interestingly, three out of the four fastest-emerging industries are tech-related. (Influencer agencies aren’t technically “tech,” but given their dependence on social media and other online outlets, their industry will always be intrinsically linked to tech.)
This corroborates what we saw in our emerging graphic design trends of 2019, which also had a focus on tech-related visuals and futuristic aesthetics. It seems that humanity as a whole—and not just the tech industry—is aware of the immense technological revolution on the horizon.