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Warmth, authenticity, optimism – all the latest branding trends

From soothing colours to imperfect illustrations, in 2021, your branding should strive to bring a dash of warmth, authenticity and optimism to people’s day. Here are a few tips to get you started…

Whether revamping an existing brand or creating a brand identity from scratch, it’s worth taking note of the visual branding trends that are shaping the year ahead.

We’re seeing a clear shift towards personalisation and connection, according to 99 Designs: “Never before has the human side of branding been so relevant. The brand-customer relationship is less about transactions and more about friendship and emotion.”

2020 was a strange and challenging year. So this year, think of your branding as an opportunity to bring some much-needed warmth and optimism to people’s lives. Virgin Money’s bright, joyful branding (pictured above) by Pentagram is a good example.

Our favourite 2021 branding trends include…

Immersive experiences:

Your brand is so much more than a logo – it’s how people experience your vision, culture and values. In 2021, look for ways to take people on a journey, or give them unexpected experiences. These experiences might be anything from unboxing an exquisitely designed package to hosting a virtual event or bringing your brand story to life by creating incredible content.

Muted, natural colour palettes:

After an overwhelming year, expect to see more earthy tones, natural imagery and muted colours and gradients. Many brands will want to be seen as safe and soothing. Think calm and natural in stark contrast to the upheaval of 2020.

Authenticity:

People have been wising up to inauthentic brands that don’t live up to their promises for some time now. To convey an aura of authenticity, try using hand-drawn illustrations, imperfect or rough layouts. Break the rules of composition, or incorporate user-generated content. Younger generations are gravitating towards brands that back up their messaging with action. So stand for something, and make sure your branding clearly communicates your values and actions.

Accessible brands:

It has never been more important for brands to be inclusive and accessible. In the wake of #metoo and Black Lives Matters, consumers are flocking to inclusive brands that reject stereotypes and are socially conscious, too. Nike’s ‘For once, don’t do it’ campaign (pictured above) is a great example.

Accessible branding is also good business: it’s an opportunity to broaden your audience and grow your bottom line. It starts with the fundamentals of design: font sizes and weights, contrasting colours, combining text with icons, and using luminance contrast to enhance legibility. We believe designing accessible built environments shouldn’t be seen as an added cost or inconvenience, but as an opportunity for creativity.

Motion logos and sonic branding:

Gone are the days of static, two-dimensional logos. In 2021, you’ll need to think about how your brand looks, moves, and sounds. Google is a great example of how you can put your logo in motion, as is the New Yorker Festival below. Start thinking of all the digital touchpoints you own, and how you might animate your brand in different ways. 2021 may also be the year that brands find their ‘voice’, investing in their own human voices to connect with people on voice-enabled devices.

Patterns:

We have been using patterns as an extension of a brand’s identity for quite awhile now, so it’s great to see this trend on track to continue in 2021. Our brains are naturally drawn to patterns. We seek out order in a chaotic world. So as a tool for increasing brand recognition in 2021, patterns make perfect sense. (For the dos and don’ts of using patterns in branding, click here).

Place branding:

According to Place Brand Observer, 2021 is also a year of opportunities for place branders. First and foremost, place branding will play a vital role in encouraging people back to city centres and high-streets in a world that has been forever changed by COVID. There is also an opportunity to build on the strength of local community connections. Forced to work from home, many of us reconnected with our neighbours, shops and local businesses, and this year, place makers will play a role in keeping these connections alive, or leveraging them to promote residential neighbourhoods.

We’re looking forward to designing authentic, warm and welcoming brands, shaping optimistic narratives, and helping brands to be more accessible and inclusive.

If you are interested in revamping your branding in 2021, we’ve love to hear from you. You can reach us on (02) 8252 7522 or via hello@brandculture.com.au, or read more about our branding services here.