Creating stand-out campaigns are much easier done when graphic designers and brand managers are in the loop on current trends.

A close look at the most successful ad and Web designs of the past year reveal five key trends to embrace now: real-life photography, motion video graphics, flat page designs, soft color schemes, and bold, textured fonts.

Below we explore in detail 2014's top visual design trends in photo, video, color, illustration, and typography and why they make the accompanying examples so memorable.

1. Photo: Real-Life Imagery

Instagram filters have taken the social media world by storm and have expanded into all areas of visual design. Posters, magazine ads, email ads, landing pages, and even website design often include photographs of both people and food that have an Instagram-like look to them in an attempt to appear authentic and trustworthy.

For example, Burt's Bees Baby uses light and color filters in the majority of its Web advertisements and even crowdsources banner ads through Instagram contests.

Another interesting visual design trend is the depiction of real people in real-life scenarios, including women of all walks of life, not just the petite, flawless model-types. When designs do include models, they represent all ethnicities, ages, and body types. Designers are looking to make ads and even art much more believable and realistic.

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image of Josephine Sabin

Josephine Sabin is a marketing communications manager at DesignCrowd, a global marketplace for design services.

LinkedIn: Josephine Sabin

Twitter: @roneo