In regular times, things in the design world don’t change quickly. Branding trends, from art direction to logo design, aren’t restricted to a single year but persist throughout time. However, all the chaos and uncertainty we’re experiencing in life is moving many aspects of graphic design that are evolving in radically different directions; sometimes, we barely notice it. With that in mind, we’ve compiled eight trends impacting brand identity design in 2022.
Source: Jose Morquejo
Trend 1: Branding in Motion
Whether you’re scrolling through a website, navigating an app, or walking past a digital billboard, we see more motion design at the moment. And most professionals believe this can only be a good thing.
With the constant introduction of new digital platforms and the rise of virtual reality, brands are finding new ways of living online. This has opened up new possibilities for engaging consumers through animation, and opportunities to improve how we approach storytelling.
This trend is even influencing packaging. QR codes were dead until the pandemic, but now people understand how to ‘scan for information.’ What does that mean for AR? How its relationship with packaging could evolve? There’s a sharp rise in innovations to extend the movement of a brand online to the shelves. Can the popular unboxing experience be digitized?
Static images can’t compete with gifs on a superficial level. On a deeper level, movement creates identity. A brand can now have its own choreography that provides outstanding personality enabled by the screen. This shift has significant implications for the design industry. Design and movement are now fused. Besides the traditional design skills, marketing agencies need to develop a better understanding of movement, and rhythm combined with skills in motion software.
Credit: TRY Design for Innom
Trend 2: Embracing Chaos
Five years ago, a minimalist, geometric look, dominated design. And yet, in a world torn apart by the pandemic and economic crises, that utopian aesthetic seems ever more outdated.
This trend is all about a living, energized chaos. It is a reaction to an increasingly harmonious, consistent graphic style defined by many brands and businesses. There is a growing space for something raw—jarring collage, sharp contrasts, powerful neon, and irregular frames.
Inspired by the early internet, this approach looks to move away from harmony and towards a joyful clash. There’s space for acid green and terminal fonts, screen grabs, and digital artifacts as fundamental design elements. These are designs arising from new skills in the age of the creator economy—a refined version of digital chaos shaped by digital natives.
Source: Estudio Cru
Trend 3: Breaking Borders
While the global pandemic hasn’t been fun for anyone, it’s forced us all to think and work in new ways. It has pushed us to work internationally, whether working for international clients or collaborating with international talent.
This breaking down of online borders is one of the most exciting prospects for the design world in 2022. It’s generating opportunities to collaborate with talent that you could only dream of working with, on that client you’ve always wanted to work for.
For us at Regular Animal, that means working with clients from Africa to Japan and collaborating with designers and artists from Sidney to Berlin. The most exciting part is the sharing of skills and experiences, helping to foster more creative outcomes that shape culture as we build a different post-pandemic world.
Source: Tiffany & Co.
Trend 4: Maxi Maximalism
Minimalism is on the wane; maximalism is on the rise.
There’s a visual renaissance after years of visual sameness brought on by previously limiting functional requirements of living in a digital space.
Now, there’s a clear desire for an opulent approach. This is a maximalist era where visceral narratives and visual experiences are replacing flat, geometric, austere brand systems, trumping modularity with distinctiveness. These maximalist worlds aren’t just impractical treatments but rooted in strategy and history.
Brands are moving to monochromic, bold palettes to create a punchier, more ownable look and feel. For brands synonymous with one color, there’s a chance to mix things up, even if it’s just to get attention momentarily. Tiffany & Co. used a fresh ‘Tiffany Yellow’ to replace its ‘Tiffany Blue’ and signal a change to connect with a younger audience and change its reputation as dusty and old-fashioned.
Trend 5: Typography Gets Playful
2022 is a big year for type. Typographic styles tap into exaggerated characterful letterforms, enhancing the contrast between flowing lines and sharp angular shapes.
The trend for motion design also influences type. Title sequences viewed across streaming platforms during lockdown will have most certainly inspired designers, from people binge-watching Killing Eve to, more recently, Squid Game. Both take very different approaches to typography linked through their captivating movement and amplified personalities.
Colors and vibrancy will also play a vital role in the typographic trends for 2022. Nike’s “Play New” campaign celebrates the character of the typography with wonderful flowing forms while providing a contemporary twist through vivid colors and sharp contrasting shapes.
Source: Gucci x Adidas
Trend 6: Creative Crossovers
Design, branding, and fashion are all changing and, in some cases, starting to merge.
The year started off with Kanye West and Gap’s Yeezy Gap collaboration taking a step further by collaborating with Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia for the Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga collection, which has released two collections so far this year. Most recently, designer Simon Porte Jacquemus revealed during his fall 2022 Jacquemus ready-to-wear runway show that he is teaming with Nike on a collection of minimalist women’s sportswear pieces.
With so many brands exploring how they can live off-pack and come to life in several imaginative ways, we’re seeing them turn notably to streetwear. Brands are finding they can partner their way into being cool; or at least cool-adjacent.
Trend 7: Eco-aesthetics
People are becoming more aware of climate change and care about the environment. And in many ways, the design industry is taking notice.
Consumers can now spot greenwashing from a mile away, so brands have to do more than use the color green to show they’re putting the planet first.
And that needs to be reflected aesthetically, too. The challenge is for designers and packaging producers to choose materials and finishes that are sustainable, recyclable, and have the lowest carbon impact possible to meet consumer expectations, brand ethos, and environmental standards while still creating a strong visual impact.
For example, metallic foil manufacturers have already started to make their products biodegradable. Water-based inks are gaining greater use, but it is no good using them on virgin paper and then applying a soft-touch laminate, as this would negate their eco-benefits. The key is how these processes are used smartly. That will be the difference between something that appears green and those which are genuinely sustainable.
Brands must do this subtly and thoughtfully, or consumers will see right through it. Design for sustainability-focused brands used to be full of clichés in terms of colors, textures, typography, and visuals. Greenish colors, textured materials, brushes, plants, and hands holding the world. Modern brands, though, are moving beyond to embrace a radically new attitude full of digital language and bold identity.
Sustainability and reconnecting with nature are here to stay. We will begin to heal our Covid traumas on a deeper level. Brands and institutions within this space will recognize this influence and approach design with education, introspection, and immersion in mind.
Trend 8: Unapologetic Design
If an air of cautious optimism defined 2021, 2022 would be determined by unapologetic realism. We had hopes for 2021 that had just begun to come to the surface, but this year these trends, plus a few more, will see their full potential as we are more mentally, physically, and socially prepared.
2022 will no longer be a yearning for the past; but rather a dire desire to bring to fruition our untapped potential and pathways revealed while being in a state of quarantine and reflection for longer than we anticipated.
A new wave of entrepreneurs will emerge as individuals and communities unite for a more robust, fine-tuned purpose supported wholeheartedly by value-driven design.
And as we all look to an uncertain future, one thing’s for sure: unthinkingly sticking to the old ways is no longer an option. 2022 will also be about subversion. Much like Brutalism was a disruptive reaction to the over-designed, over-analyzed designs of the generation before, 2022 will move from disrupting to transforming.
Subversive design asks for action and demands participation. It also begs you to question your own impact as a designer or user. It also removes dark patterns, aggressive persuasion, and dishonest branding. It will no longer cut it to design with the intent of contesting or rejecting popular opinion.
This new trend will use design to destroy design: to knock down the systems of power built and crafted across history to benefit the few while suppressing and weakening the many. Contrarianism is now the consensus, and consensus flattens ideas. Subversion sets them free.
Regular Animal is a creative agency based in Miami and scattered all over that helps organizations move the world forward. Our name summarizes our team’s spirit and work, authentic and real, and the promise to care for our clients with the unconditional love of a regular animal.