Our post-pandemic world didn’t turn out to be exactly what we’d hoped for. We’ve found ourselves plagued by the climate crisis, wars and austerity. And, in response, many of us are turning towards individualism, anti-establishment politics and spirituality. We all need some escapism right now and as we can see by the logo design trends for 2023, the creative industry is bringing it.
You’ll see sci-fi references and retro throwbacks in some of this year’s trends we’re highlighting. Why? Because we’re emerging from the pandemic with a fierce set of rose-tinted glasses on and we’re yearning for utopia. Marrying experience with innovation, designers are looking to their past to inform the future—and trust us, it’s going to be bright.
The top 10 escapist logos for 2023 are:
- Throwback liquid mercury font
- Playful line doodles
- Retro red liners
- Twists on traditional designs
- Distorted geometry
- Loosely interpretive lettermarks
- Mysticism and mythology
- Submerged in sci-fi
- Modern art deco
- Molecule-inspired abstract patterning
Check out these logos. They’re melty, they’re shiny, they’re oozy and they feel fresh, yet kind of familiar:
No, you’re not the only person who has looked at the liquid mercury typography trend and said, “Hey, this feels a bit Y2K.” If you were around back then, you’ll recognize this kind of font immediately—even if you don’t know what melting mercury actually looks like.
Here’s a quick explanation for those who aren’t versed in melting mercury or this iconic turn-of-the-century style: the element mercury was once commonly used in thermometers and other consumer tools and products. At room temperature, mercury is liquid. It’s dense, and unlike water and other lighter liquids, mercury moves slowly and tends to ooze, rather than flow. This font, with its unevenly distributed weight, rounded corners and general sense of having organically oozed into letter shapes, looks like melted mercury.
As a font, it feels contemporary. It doesn’t just lack serifs, it lacks symmetry. It doesn’t feel restricted or even deliberate; it’s funky and with a metallic shine, even otherworldly. As a throwback font, it feels nostalgic, but the play on depth, texture and letter formation gives this melting mercury logo trend fresh energy. It feels lively, exciting and free.
Escapism doesn’t always look futuristic. Sometimes, it’s simply about searching for the positives in the environment around you. And that’s what this trend is all about.
In 2023, designers are bringing casual humor and wit to their work, creating playful line drawings to lift spirits. The simplistic style feels reminiscent of the doodles you drew as a schoolkid in your science book, blending together a sense of mischief and innocence. When you think about all the crises looming over the world at present, it’s no wonder designers are wistfully looking backward to fuel their creativity.
As 99designs by Vista designer, solvi_designs, puts it, “Logos right now are funny and positive—I’m sure it was caused by the pandemic. People have had some tough years and some more to come, and the companies and the designers are trying to give positivity in any way they can.”
In 2023, we’ll notice the color red used increasingly so instead of black in monochrome logo designs. This is especially so when the logo features a character or mascot. Commanding attention, the color red symbolizes heightened emotion and luck. And so it makes sense that designers are turning to it to emphasize the personality of the brand they’re creating for.
You’ll notice that these logo designs are turning to comic strips for inspiration. You can see it in the 2D line drawings, exaggerated expressions, use of line grids and speech bubbles featured in the examples. Designers are searching for the positives in an increasingly fraught world. By referencing a style of illustration that many connect to childhood, these designers encourage audiences to take a moment of light relief, to enjoy the innocence of such memories.
And when we look deeper at these cartoon-style characters, we again see why the color red seems to work so well here. It’s adding joy, a fun energy and charisma to the characters they’re applied to—feelings that the audience is invited to soak up.
In 2023, coping with reality is a key theme we see playing out in design. Maneuvering through the ‘new normal’ means we need to innovate on what we know and what we’ve experienced in the past. And one way we see creatives reflect on this is through the translation of traditional, cultural imagery into striking contemporary logo designs.
So, this might mean pairing an old-school sticker aesthetic with a contemporary pastel palette and abstract patterns. Or, it could mean isolating a singular shape or symbol from traditional or cultural imagery and immersing it in an abstract ocean of white space.
Many examples in this logo design trend lean into minimalism, simplifying ornate details into line drawings or transforming traditional logo shapes, like badges or crests, into vector art.
Geometric shapes have long been used for logo design. Smooth, precise and calculated, they provide a rigid contrast to the biomorphic silhouettes we see in nature. Yet, 2023 will see designers clap back at their mathematical rules and regularity.
Twisting, breaking and tugging silhouettes out of place, designers are rejecting the subdued nature of predictable geometry. They’re fighting against the establishment, consciously bucking design norms to celebrate the spirit of rebellion.
Each logo design in this trend flaunts jagged edges, missing pieces and razor edges. In chrome or neon, they’re slick, sharp and defiant in stealing the audience’s attention.
In a similar vein to the distorted geometry trend, the loosely interpretive lettermarks trend is in revolt. Blasting the industry standards of favoring simple, easy-to-recognize shapes or letters, this 2023 logo design trend is bringing forth a new dimension of logo design—one that includes all-out abstract conceptualization.
Designers use geometric shapes and white space to play mind games on the viewer, as they see an abstract pattern first and the represented letters second. It’s almost like an optical illusion, with designers adding a deeper level of interaction and playfulness to designs.
As 99designs by Vista designer, Terry Bogard, explains, “Type manipulation has always been a clever and useful trend to create a unique look for a minimal aesthetic. As the market becomes more saturated, obvious distortions in typesets will play into more recognizable forms of logos or brand marks.”
Overall, this logo design trend is a broad category, but the examples that fall underneath it carry the same sentiment. Things are never obvious immediately; design should not be understood at face value. Viewers need to look deeper into these logos than they usually would to uncover the real meaning, which feels like a pretty big metaphor for how we view the world and humanity.
Here’s another way younger generations, largely Gen Z, are pushing back against established norms: they’re embracing alternative and New Age spirituality. For some, this means things like astrology, crystals and tarot cards. For others, it’s embracing Pagan and other nature-based religions instead of attending organized, traditional churches. For all, it’s a strategy for finding meaning and connection in a world that often feels increasingly disconnected.
“Align your chakras and charge up your crystals, mystic and ethereal logos have always existed, but this year you can see them being polished up and brought to the mainstream.” On the mysticism and mythology trend, 99designs by Vista’s art director Justin Hamra says, “this logo trend reflects the want for calm and naturalistic styles, colors and brands.”
Many people, particularly young adults, feel a lack of control over the future right now. There are lots of reasons for this, like economic uncertainty, geopolitical conflict and a perceived lack of climate action from many world leaders. This unease with the physical present along with an ache for a higher power is showing up across the logo design trends of 2023.
A key driver behind this movement, and trending logos that reflect it, is the idea of “taking back your power.” Designers are leaning into that concept and using the visual language of practices like astrology, tarot, crystals and mysticism in their logos. This language includes images like planets, eyes, astrological glyphs, and nature-inspired motifs.
Yesterday’s science fiction is today’s reality. Things like fully digital worlds and far-flung space exploration aren’t fiction anymore; they’re part of our world. But they aren’t necessarily commonplace, and in many cases, they can feel like a dramatic juxtaposition to the immediate challenges we’re facing. That can make them feel dystopian… and inspire designers working with these themes to depict them in cold shades of gray, dull browns, impact fonts and metallics.
Keep in mind that not all sci-fi-inspired logo designs have this heavy look and feel—some shoot for a more fun, optimistic take on the concept, like canyones’ animated design below.
Space exploration is a popular theme in science fiction. It’s also been prominent in the news lately, following the confirmed UFO sightings in 2021 and the crystal clear space images coming from the James Webb telescope. You’ll see this popularity reflected in this trend and its emphasis on space exploration as another avenue for escapism, with humans having only explored a tiny fraction of the universe thus far.
Originating in 1910, art deco is enjoying a revival. And, as with any revival, designers are updating it for today. Take a look at the glitch-inspired font in this art deco-inspired wordmark design:
Glitch effects used in this context feel distinctly modern because in the original art deco era, there were no digital glitches—there was nothing digital to glitch. The technique is a juxtaposition of the 20th and 21st century, a reminder that anything can be reimagined and reinvented. It melts old into new: a romanticized past into an unclear future.
And this isn’t the only way designers are modernizing and revitalizing the art deco movement for today’s context. Traditionally, we think of minimalist fonts as, well, minimal—they aren’t large or bold or visibly remarkable in any way. But with these art deco-inspired wordmark logos, we see designers experiment with letter anatomy—so features like it’s weight, thickness and stems.
In this logo design trend, we see more sci-fi-inspired imagery. But unlike the “submerged in sci-fi” trend, this trend isn’t paying homage to fantasy—it’s celebrating fact.
So how are designers interpreting science as imagery? Many of these logos incorporate DNA helices, which also brings another theme to this trend’s story. DNA is the foundation for all life, and by overtly depicting them or implying them through blobby circles and linked dots, designers express the sense of connection and belonging we feel with each other.
As Justin Hamra, art director at 99designs by Vista, explains, “molecule-inspired abstract patterning presents one of the purest forms of logo design. It bridges the gap between classic iconography and simplistic logo marks in a fluid and abstract way.”
Against our current backdrop of contradictions and cultural pendulum swings, scientific progress is constant. Many of these logos use science-inspired imagery to communicate that even, and perhaps especially, in our darkest moments, scientific advancement is the path to recovery and progress. It gives optimism and hope in the most reliable, well-researched format.
Get ready for logos without limits in 2023
Every year, new logo design trends emerge. 2023 will be no different. What will be different, though, is the underlying forces behind those logo design trends. In 2023, designers will be working within a zeitgeist marked by innovation, a desire for freedom, simplicity and escapism.
As you look around and take stock of your environment, think about how you can cultivate your own freedom through innovation and authenticity. If you could translate that into a logo, what would it look like? That’s what 2023 logo design trends are all about: going after what you really need during challenging times.