What do mischievous mascots, disco balls, monograms and rustic lettering have in common? These inventive, engaging themes all make our list of the top branding trends for 2022. We sampled opinions from our global community of graphic designers, and their selection illustrates the many different ways people and brands are responding to a pandemic-dominated 2021.
This is a world in which some want to hunker down and focus on the delights of everyday routines or enjoy the reassurance offered by naturalistic, childlike fonts. Others are finding subtle new ways to focus attention on the welfare of our planet. And some people just want to pull on some neon, switch on the strobe lights and get down. Here, we explore the biggest trends in branding in 2022.
Here are the 8 leading branding trends of 2022
- Eco brands drop the “eco” look
- Disruptive branding
- Monograms for personal brands
- Charming line drawing and scrawling
- The magic of the mundane
- A limitless digital future
- Mischievous mascots
- Back to the neon ’80s
1. Eco brands drop the “eco” look
With our world facing an existential threat from climate change and species loss, sustainability has moved firmly into the mainstream. From global treaties to grassroots campaigns, eco-friendly messages are increasingly common.
There’s plenty to celebrate here. But with the market crowded with green designs in 2022, how do brands and campaigners avoid consumer fatigue and make their branding designs fresh and distinctive?
This year sees eco brands drop classic green and brown hues, and move away from classic images of trees and rivers. Instead, many are defining their brand with more personal, conceptual and on-the-pulse artwork that will hook eco-friendly buyers.
2. Disruptive branding
Looking sharp and sleek is all very well, but it can make your product look like it’s just come out of a focus group meeting or a factory line. In 2022, many brands are looking to showcase a different side to their personality. Apparently messy layouts, jumbled words and amateurish artworks are all kinds of anti-art that we’re increasingly seeing in brand design.
Whether it’s wild lettering that makes shoppers look twice, an all-over-the-place craft beer label that looks like it might actually have been put together by a tipsy brewer or a wine brand that wants its bottles to be enjoyed by casual enthusiasts rather than wine snobs, disruptive branding gives companies the chance to show they don’t play by the rules.
3. Monograms for personal brands
As flexible employment and freelancing have grown increasingly important, more individuals have needed to brand themselves as a business. Abbreviated logos are short, snappy and can give partners and clients the feeling that they’re buying into something special.
Monograms are an increasingly popular branding design trend in 2022. There’s nothing new about them—they were used on Greek coins as far back as 350 BCE and can be seen in fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel. But they’re a great option for the modern freelancer.
By uniting two or more initials in a single symbol, they’re a strong statement of who you are. They’re versatile enough to slot in the middle of business cards or the margins of web pages, and that flexibility can help viewers appreciate your versatility. And, with a world of fonts and colors out there, an abbreviated logo is a great way to show off creativity.
4. Charming line drawing and scrawling
2022 is also seeing brands choose to base their identities around handwritten, unpolished lettering and illustrations. These logos and brand messages—rather like the disruptive branding that’s also making waves this year—can look like they created in five minutes.
But giving a word or picture a bold, childlike form can help shape a brand, suggesting a charismatic and unpretentious company whose products are built with human hands and guided by genuine passion.
5. The magic of the mundane
Everyone from 13th-century Zen monks to modern mindfulness gurus has suggested we can find deep joy in the everyday. After months that have seen the pandemic shake many of us out of our routines and prompted many to find solace in simple pleasures, it’s no surprise to see brands and designers channel the magic of the mundane.
But if this 2022 trend in branding is predictable, the way it’s being realized is anything but. Whether it’s vloggers focusing on their daily routines or tea brands honing in on cozy cups, everyone seems to have their own take. This year, you might see a film festival turning mundane details into abstract art or advertisements for smart apartment complexes that hone in on croissants, tables and the interplay of light and shadow. 2022 is showing that you can find glamor in unexpected places.
6. A limitless digital future
Retro-futurism was one of 2021’s key trends, but brand designers are stepping on the throttle in 2022. As money moves further and further from physical notes and companies open up augmented-reality visions such as Facebook’s Metaverse, brands are embracing increasingly techy and futuristic designs.
Images might be picked out in ultraviolet, or feature dynamic patterns that echo digital networks or neural pulses. Mysterious symbols and crisp lines are common, with many of these hypermodern branding designs giving organic or everyday objects an evocative twist—a mix of the real and aspirational that points to the future, while keeping consumers’ feet on solid ground.
7. Mischievous mascots
Brand mascots tell a story about a company and—as with the best marketing campaigns—have a definite life of their own. Many of them also have a classic feel, partly because today’s most prominent mascots were created decades ago—the Michelin Man dates from 1898, Tony the Tiger from 1952 and Mario from 1981.
But after a quiet start to the century, mascots are making a comeback in 2022 via clever branding designs that are packed with sly humor and personality. Some, like the Kinky Onion, recall the designs of the 1930s and ‘40s. Others, like Organic Prink’s bright yellow duck, bring a knowing irreverence to a branding space (windshield cleaner) that’s not known for its inventiveness.
8. Back to the neon ‘80s
With everyone from Dua Lipa and Charli XCX to Coldplay channeling synth-pop and disco, ‘80s influences are running right through the ‘20s. Dynamic, brash branding designs, complete with neon pink and yellow colors, flickering strobes and dancefloor vibes are helping designers give brands fun and sparky visual identities.
With unconventional text alignment, flamboyant dancing figures and Tron-style grid patterns, this trend in branding has many reference points: yuppie cocktail nights, early MTV, pioneering house DJs and the first home computer games. When brands you wouldn’t normally associate with the scene—like weaving exhibitions, church services and art conferences—go ’80s, you know it’s time to roll up your jacket sleeves and plug in your boom box.
Branding design in 2022: it’s looking bright
With fluorescent ‘80s tones and shimmering visions of the future, jaunty line drawings and playful mascots, many of 2022’s trends come with more than a hint of optimism. Not everything is flamboyant, of course, but even the more restrained developments point to climate care, personal development and finding joy in the moment.
We may not be swinging into a bright new world quite yet, but these colorful and engaging branding design trends suggest 2022 should brim with life.