Dawson Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of Looka, a logo design and brand identity platform powered by artificial intelligence.
Branding is the personality of a business. As a complex combination of voice, tone, color palettes, font choices, and story, good branding creates a lasting impression and differentiates a business from its competitors.
When done right, effective branding fosters deep loyalty between businesses and consumers. But brand design is no static beast. It shifts and responds to the world around it.
Changes in design trends, the economy and online etiquette all create shifts in branding trends.
In 2022, we’ll see how the effects of the pandemic, political movements and climate events shifted how people interact with brands. These are the branding trends to watch out for next year.
1. Purpose-Driven Campaigns
It goes without saying that a brand with a mission to better the world will foster deeper connections with its customers. Consumers are growing ever weary of purpose-less, profit-driven businesses. Brands that take the time to explain the issue they hope to make better — be it social justice, environmental concerns or otherwise — and why it matters can expect deeper loyalty from consumers in 2022.
This trend will likely become a mainstay expectation from consumers as people begin choosing one brand over another based on shared values.
But beware the critical eye of consumers everywhere. It’s easy for people to sniff out the superficial from the real. If you are after positive change in the world, be genuine and transparent about how you’re contributing to change.
2. Branded Memes
Memes have become their own form of digital communication — a way to respond to relevant and current events, often with a sense of tongue-in-cheek humor. What used to be an internet subculture has now permeated mainstream communication.
Memes are an incredible way for brands to break through to new audiences. Make a meme that strikes a chord, and you’re likely to see social shares and interaction skyrocket. In 2022, leverage the power of memes in your email newsletters, on social media, in videos and in blogs.
3. Retro/Throwback Designs
With Y2K styles resurging in the fashion world, the world of branding and design has been hit with a similar nostalgia. Prepare to see more late ’90s and early 2000’s design styles hit the scene with bold colors, clashing patterns and quirky, handwritten fonts.
Using design styles from previous eras conjures memories and a sense of familiarity between brand and consumer. Try applying this branding trend to an ad campaign to catch the attention of a specific target audience.
4. Hybrid Events
The pandemic forced brands to pivot to hosting virtual events. For consumers, it opened up a whole new world of accessibility, one which they won’t soon be ready to let go of … if ever. Virtual events alleviate concerns over travel time, child care, transit and more. They also open up global connections between brands and their worldwide customer base.
In 2022, anticipate that while a large portion of folks is operating “back to normal,” many will still favor at-home virtual experiences. Brands will do well by hosting mixed, multi-part sessions that cater to both audiences, from live videos and small Zoom-style workshops to in-person activations.
5. Bold But Muted Colors
If the biggest logo redesigns of 2021 have anything to show, it’s that bold but muted colors are trending. From Burger King to Planters, many companies have traded their bright colors for softer tones over the last few years.
Soft colors can still be eye-catching with the right color combinations. Muted colors draw the eye in while still creating a sense of calm, comfort and familiarity. Consider jumping on this 2022 design trend by adding colorful but muted tones to your packaging, ads or social media posts.
6. Online Communities And Platforms
In the heat of the pandemic, we heard constantly about the vital importance of human connection, social interaction and community. Quickly, brands heard the call and hopped on the trend to form online communities for their audiences to stay connected with both the brand and each other.
This trend won’t be going out of style any time soon. If you haven’t already created an online community for your audience, try inviting people to a Discord channel, Facebook group or exclusive virtual events to facilitate a sense of community. This can also easily be done on social media by simply striking up real conversations through comments.
7. Paid Newsletters
In 2020, we saw the rise of Substack — where writers send digital newsletters to their readers and monetize their work through a paywall. The top 10 writers on Substack are generating more than $15 million in revenue per year.
A number of reasons contributed to the rise of paid newsletters. We saw a huge loss in media jobs as a result of the pandemic, and Substack offers a revenue stream for journalists to be independent. Overall, there seems to be a trend toward subscription-based content creation.
While there may be some kinks to address for this trend to stick around, brands that put a priority on exclusive-access content that is both informative and engaging will get ahead of this trend in 2022.
8. Psychedelic Design
With a recent surge in research on the positive mental health effects of psilocybin and other psychedelic drugs, it’s no surprise that the wavy, groovy, ‘70s-inspired design style is making a comeback.
This trend involves big, bold, bubbly letters, saturated colors and layered patterns. Psychedelic design does well when applied to posters, social ads and other marketing assets that need to catch a person’s eye.
Much like design, trends in branding evolve over time to meet the perception of consumers. But trends don’t happen in isolation. They are the effect of a broader context, and sometimes they stick around for good.
Now more than ever, brands need to be more thoughtful and conscious in their representation. Using imperfection in marketing, standing up for diversity in all industries — these things have shifted from trends to mainstay requirements that brands need to keep up with to connect with their customers and audiences.