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When it comes to creating designs for your ecommerce store, there really is an abundance of inspiration and opportunity. Pretty much everywhere you look, you can find something to inspire you.

It may not feel that way now, however, while most of us are stuck at home. But even with our limited ability to move freely and interact with others, we can still find plenty of design inspiration.

One strategy you can use to come up with new design ideas is to look at what’s trending. The trends can be pop culture trends, political trends, popular songs, movies, TV shows, et cetera — anything that lots of people are paying attention to and talking about.

Normally, I don’t recommend creating designs to capitalize on trends because trends can be so fleeting, and I typically tell people to focus more so on the evergreen stuff, but since I’ve been at home a bit, I’ve been testing around.

I recently tested out a few designs ideas based on the show Tiger King. 

If you haven’t seen it, Tiger King is this crazy, true-crime documentary on Netflix that follows Joe Exotic, an eccentric zookeeper who gets into an intense feud with Carole Baskin, the CEO of “Big Cat Rescue.” The show is nuts but REALLY popular.

With the designs I made, I obviously had to be mindful of trademark issues, which I’ll talk more about in a bit. But I came up with a few designs based on an alleged event that’s talked about on the show. And I put those designs onto t-shirts and coffee mugs, and they have been selling really well on Amazon.

The designs don’t use the show’s name or any images from the show. They are mostly text-based. And some do include an image of a tiger, but it’s just a random tiger image I found.

Here are the results of a Google image search I just ran for Tiger King mugs: 

I know these designs are a little hard to see, so here’s a couple of additional, close-up examples of other designs I’ve seen:

I think these two mugs are really good examples of how you can take something that’s trending and make a design that doesn’t violate trademarks.

Note how both designs are largely text-based and neither one mentions the show’s title. And yet, it’s obvious to anyone who’s a fan that these mugs are based on Tiger King.

The first design is also a great example because it can be recycled and reused for other trending topics. You could take the template…

Two things I’m sure of: 

  1. I love my mom
  2. [an opinion you have about a TV show, movie, etc.]

For example…

Two things I’m sure of: 

  1. I love my mom 
  2. Tyrion Lannister should have been king 

This example could appeal to certain Game of Thrones fans. Also, I checked, and “Tyrion Lannister” isn’t trademarked.

But please note that this design formula has been used by another Amazon seller. So please don’t take someone else’s design idea. I’m just citing it as a good example.

If there’s a TV show or movie you’ve seen recently, you can come up with your own design formulas or draw inspiration from specific elements. For example, ask yourself the following types of questions to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Does anything controversial happen? If so, come up with a design that responds to the controversy.
  • Are any of the characters really attractive or charming? If so, you could make a design that says something like, “I’d swap my husband for [Character’s name] in a heartbeat.” Or I’ve seen other designs that say, “Mrs. [Name of hunky fictional character],” etc.
  • Conversely, are any of the characters especially unlikeable? If so, you could make a design telling that character off. You see a lot of this type of design pertaining to Carole Baskin from Tiger King. 

You aren’t limited to trending TV shows and movies, however. You can also explore the following types of trends:

  • Video games
  • Songs and artists
  • TikTok dance moves
  • News stories
  • Words and phrases

However, as I mentioned above, any time you create designs based on a trend, you need to be extremely mindful of trademark issues. I can’t stress this enough.

To see whether a title, name, phrase, or image has been trademarked, you can search the USPTO’s trademark database. Go to the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) and choose from one of the following search options:

To learn more about each option, click here.

NOTE: I am not a lawyer or a legal professional, so please do your own due diligence when it comes to trademarks and always err on the side of caution.

That said, here are seven lists from different trend categories to help you come up with new design ideas.

TV shows

Here’s a list of the top trending shows of 2020, according to ReelGood.com:

  • Ozark
  • Run
  • Tales from the Loop
  • Babylon Berlin
  • The English Game
  • Unorthodox
  • Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness
  • Homecoming
  • Star Trek: Picard
  • The Mandalorian
  • My Brilliant Friend
  • Feel Good
  • The Plot against America
  • Valhalla Murders
  • Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madame C.J. Walker
  • Elite
  • Kingdom
  • Hunters
  • Brockmire
  • Devs
  • I Am Not Okay with This
  • Locke & Key
  • Community
  • On My Block
  • The Witcher

Movies

Here’s a list of some of the most anticipated movies of 2020, according to DigitalTrends.com:

  • Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
  • A Quiet Place: Part II
  • The New Mutants
  • No Time to Die
  • Black Widow
  • Wonder Woman 1984
  • Top Gun: Maverick
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  • Tenet
  • Morbius
  • Bill & Ted Face the Music
  • Eternals
  • Godzilla versus Kong
  • Dune
  • The Many Saints of Newark
  • Fast & Furious 9
  • BIOS
  • Free Guy

Video games

Here’s a list of trending video games, according to Esquire.com:

  • Iron Man VR
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • Doom Eternal
  • Resident Evil 3
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Trials of Mana
  • Cooking Mama: Cookstar
  • Moving Out
  • Ghosts of Tsushima
  • Final Fantastic Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition
  • Marvel’s Avengers
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Outriders
  • Godfall
  • Halo Infinite
  • Destroy All Humans!
  • Fall Guys
  • The Last of Us Part II
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  • No More Heroes 3
  • SkateBIRD
  • Spelunky 2
  • Watch Dogs Legion
  • Hollow Knight: Silksong
  • Overwatch 2

Songs and artists 

According to Spotify, these are the top songs and artists that are trending in 2020:

  • Level of Concern – Twenty-one Pilots
  • Bad Child – Tones and I
  • Renee’s Song – Bazzi
  • Boyfriend – Selena Gomez
  • Mamacita – Black Eyed Peas
  • Heading Home – Alan Walker
  • I Love You’s – Hailee Steinfeld
  • At Least for Now – Justin Bieber
  • Stained Glass – Madison Beer
  • Break My Heart – Dua Lipa
  • Kings & Queens – Ava Max
  • Like It Is – Kygo, Zara Larsson, Tyga
  • In Your Eyes – The Weekend
  • Happiest Year – James Young
  • Know Your Worth – Khalid, Exposure
  • How to Be Lonely – Rita Ora
  • Velvet – Adam Lambert
  • Let’s Fall in Love for the Night – Finneas
  • Available – Justin Bieber
  • Say So – Doja Cat
  • What if I Told You that I Love You – Ali Gatie
  • Stupid Love – Lady Gaga
  • Falling – Harry Styles
  • I Love Me – Demi Lovato
  • Old Me – 5 Seconds of Summer
  • The Box – Roddy Ricch
  • The Man – Taylor Swift

Dance moves

Here’s a list of the most popular TikTok dance moves of 2020, according to Ranker.com:

  • Sugar – Brockhampton
  • Say So – Doja Cat
  • Renegade – Lottery
  • No Idea x Candy
  • Holy Moly Donut Shop / Blueface – Dis Blow Up How
  • One Wish – Ray J
  • Futsal Shuffle – Lil Uzi Vert
  • Get Up – Ciara

News stories

Here’s a list of some of the top news stories from 2020 so far:

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
  • Assassination of Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani
  • Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752
  • Harry and Meghan step away back from the royal family
  • Australian bushfires
  • Brexit – The UK’s exit from the EU
  • Donald Trump’s impeachment and acquittal
  • Death of Kobe Bryant

Words and phrases

Here’s a list of trending words and phrases in 2020 that are especially popular among teens and young people:

  • Extra
  • Periodt / And that’s on periodt
  • Snatched
  • Wig
  • Big yikes
  • Fit (abbreviation for the word ‘outfit’)
  • Bet
  • Fire
  • Cap / No cap
  • Shade
  • Flex
  • Go off / Go off, I guess
  • Lewk
  • Lit
  • Lowkey / Highkey
  • Salty
  • Shook
  • Stan
  • Tea
  • Thirsty
  • OK, Boomer

…If you don’t know what these words and phrases mean (many of which I didn’t!), I’d highly suggest consulting Urban Dictionary, where you’ll find definitions and example sentences.

You can also pay attention to things celebrities and politicians say that start trending. For example, in the 2016 presidential election, a lot of people took things said by Donald Trump (e.g. “bad hombre” and “nasty woman”) and turned them into really great, text-based designs.

(NOTE: Please don’t take what I just said to be any kind of political statement. Regardless of your personal political beliefs, there’s plenty of design fodder to be found on both sides of the aisle.)

A word that has currently been trending is “Cuomosexual,” referring to New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo. And I’ve seen a number of products using that word already.

Pay attention to what’s said on the news and what’s getting quoted the most. A good place to look is Twitter.

On the homepage, you’ll find a “Trends for you” section. You can check this daily to see if anything interesting shows up.

Here’s what I’m seeing today:

You can then click on any of these trends to see what people are tweeting and find inspiration for your designs.

Inspiration really is all around you. And paying attention to what’s popular and trending is a great way to come up with design ideas that people are likely to connect with.

What are your thoughts on this post? How do you come up with new design ideas? Please leave a comment below to share your insights. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with your friends and followers. 

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