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The changing face of the style guide

Beacon Creative’s Carol Feeley on the trends which came to the fore over the summer.

We’ve had some amazing opportunities in the last year, working on everything from style guides, point of sale, packaging and illustration for some really great clients.

We’re seeing the importance of trend forecasting across all of these platforms, with brands constantly looking ahead to see ‘what’s next’.

There has been a huge increase in style guides for a massive portion of our clients. Where brands would usually update style guides annually, we’re seeing regular mini trend or seasonal updates, with retailers constantly wanting to refresh product to drive customer frequency. We’re seeing less of a specific seasonal focus – for instance Halloween or Christmas, and a drive towards experiences.

“Some industries inherently design product specific to occasions, like the greetings card industry, but we’ve seen a rise in more diverse companies ask us for occasion-specific trends,” explains Naomi Shedden, senior trend strategist at futures agency, Trend Bible.

“I think this is because the consumer now values experience over product, so occasions like Valentine’s Day are about creating that memorable experience rather than the standard card and a box of chocolates. People want these experiences to be special and, of course, they are sharing them broadly on visual social media platforms as part of an expression of their lifestyle.”


Brands are tapping into this trend with product, as faster manufacturing times mean they can respond quickly to social media trends.

July saw the release of the sell out Love Island t-shirts featuring phrases from the show, and this is a great example of how a brand has used social media to identify an opportunity and respond. Online brands have been able to design a product and have it ready for sale in as little as a week, and we’re seeing this impact the high street, too.

Retailers such as Primark have streamlined their supply chain and moved production closer to key markets, enabling them to speed up the design and manufacturing process. This fast turnaround of product, coupled with Primark’s social media success, meant that these t shirts were in-store on Thursday, and completely sold out on the following Saturday.


As well as brands responding with consumer products, we’ve seen a huge increase in the need for innovative point of sale and packaging, with more of our clients asking for creative bespoke solutions in-store. Shelf space is more competitive than ever, and getting retailers on-board is a challenge in itself.

We’re seeing a rise in brands and retailers wanting ‘experiences’ in-store and finding ways to connect these experiences online. Nickelodeon has recognized this opportunity and has responded with a bespoke retail guide for Shimmer and Shine. Customers are encouraged to go on a treasure hunt in-store, finding codes which they can then submit online to win a Shimmer and Shine prize.

Looking ahead, we’re excited to be working on some great projects which see the rise of augmented reality and VR at retail, and how this will connect brands and consumers. Innovative product, powerful POS underpinned by solid and accurate trend forecasting makes for a compelling and formidable offering at retail… exciting times ahead.

Carol Feeley is creative manager at Beacon Creative – an independent brand design consultancy, working with worldwide brands on a daily basis, which believes that at the heart of every good brand communication is a great idea. She can be contacted on 0191 478 4411 or

This feature originally appeared in the autumn 2017 edition of Licensing Source Book. Click here to read the full publication.

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