Branding in 2023 continues to evolve. Logos will become more flexible, adapting to fit an ever-growing variety of screens and formats. After a decade of minimal sans-serifs and austere branding, maximalism in font choice and weight is swinging back. Color, too, is seeing a resurgence. The zeitgeist has shifted from whites and cool gray, to pastel colors, and now to richer jewel tones. Bolder color pairings and louder patterns herald the arrival of chaotic maximalism. A brand is no longer just a logo or a color scheme; it's the whole experience that a company offers its customers. What can we expect in 2023? More branding that feels human, nostalgic, and inclusive.
A brand starts with a logo. While a strong mark should be recognizable across sizes and mediums, an emerging trend is to create variations for different applications. Sometimes this is just removing the text and letting the mark/icon stand alone, but more brands are experimenting with rearranging the whole mark, stretching their brand to the limits. What would your logo look like as an app icon? How about as a 3D spinning animation in the metaverse?
After years of brands stripping their wordmarks back, reducing everything to a minimalistic sans-serif, the resurgence of serif typefaces is a welcome sight. From delicate Didots to retro-inspired Regards, a serif font can help your brand stand out from the pack.
Pair that font with some fresh colors. Brands looking to freshen things up can use richer jewel tones and creamy rich whites to blend playful and luxe with a nod to nostalgia.
Photography remains an important storytelling tool. As we'll discuss below, customers are looking for a more authentic and relatable voice when engaging with brands. Polished stock photography is an instant turn off. If your brand uses portraits or human-centric lifestyle photography, consider shooting for a more unpolished and realistic tone—your target audience as represented by people in natural settings, with bodies of all shapes and colors on display, and shot with natural lighting conditions and an analog feel (think subtle grain and light leaks).
Illustrations will similarly trend towards more inclusivity. Not all brands look best with an illustrative style, but for those who do, texture and abstraction paired with richer colors give your brand a lot of legs. Friendly hand-drawn characters and patterns breathe life into your brand and can make even the most corporate identity feel approachable.
Connecting to Audiences
A brand is not just a logo and color palette; it's also how the company communicates. Companies are looking to appeal to younger demographics with topical content on sustainability, inclusion, and social issues where appropriate. What’s driving these changes? In a word: authenticity. A growing skepticism of institutions has led consumers to seek out brands that feel human, trustworthy, and approachable. This has been a challenge for many big brands, which are seen as faceless and out of touch. To combat this, marketing teams should focus on creating authentic, human connections.
Nostalgia is a powerful branding tool. It can be used to connect with customers on an emotional level, and when done right, it can give your brand a timeless quality. Brands are beginning to tap into this trend by incorporating vintage-inspired design elements, such as distressed textures, sunbursts, and retro fonts. But beware—nostalgia for the sake of nostalgia is often inauthentic and off-putting. Your audience can see through it. Instead, focus on using nostalgic elements to to prime your audience and create an emotional connection that feels genuine.
We'll also continue to see a rise in topical content based around sustainability, giving back, inclusion, and awareness on social issues, especially for brands targeting younger demographics like Gen Z and Millennials. Showing that your brand is engaging thoughtfully with the world is a great way to attract customers. Brand activism can't just be surface-level though; proving your company can back up its words with concrete actions will be key to maintaining consumer trust.
These are just a few of the trends we’re seeing in branding for 2023 and beyond. As always, the most important thing is to stay true to your brand and your audience. Keep these trends in mind, but don’t force them if they don’t feel right. What's your vision for branding in 2023? Let's talk about how Cohesive can elevate your brand.