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In: Web Design, Website Development

The branding trends of 2023 offer a reflection of how we respond to the current times. After a few crazy years and growing dissatisfaction with the actions and—sometimes, even louder—inactions of brands, people are crying out for authenticity, transparency and honesty from the brands they interact with.

From finding joy, comfort and escapism in bygone eras to connecting through values, laughter and human interactions, these trends demonstrate that brands are trying to meet the needs of the people and offer meaningful experiences. And while there are many things that may influence branding trends, one thing for sure is that the future is about showing how your brand lives its values.

The 7 biggest branding trends for 2023:

  1. Embracing an era
  2. Overstimulated branding
  3. Doing more with less
  4. Substituting letters for icons
  5. Mission-first branding
  6. Humanizing brand personality with a mascot
  7. Using humor and satire

1. Embracing an era

Embracing an era is about creating a brand that takes someone back to a different time in history. It could be as recent as the 2000s and as distant as the glamor of the 1920s.

A ’70s-inspired font used on packaging design. By TikaDesign
50s inspired pink match box design
This ’50s-style matchbox branding conjures Hollywood glamor. By HAUS HAUS via Instagram

When social, economical and political landscapes of the present day become too chaotic and overwhelming, creating a vision centered around another time can be an escape for people. It offers a way to explore new spaces, relive glory days or see another time with rose-tinted glasses.

This trend builds an immediate connection with consumers by drawing on influences from the past that they already understand, like using a thick and curvy font from the ’70s or a cheerful color scheme from the ’90s. And in a world where people and nations seem increasingly divided, is it any surprise that we might seek comfort in the simplicity and familiarity of bygone eras?

A 1900s inspired milk label design
This early 1900-inspired design makes audiences dream of pre-technology days. By Agi Amri
70s inspired branding for a corduroy set
This packaging design has a classic ’70s style, using colors like brown and harvest gold in its branding. By Kamila Oblakova
branding trends 2023: website design in 90s color scheme
A website design inspired by a color scheme from the ’90s. By Dilyana H.

2. Overstimulated branding

Overstimulated branding uses visual imagery and eye-catching color to get attention and captivate the senses. This trend often uses bright colors, bold and distorted fonts, and in-your-face icons or logos. Visually, these brands look like they have a lot going on through the use of patterns, scattered illustrations and maxing out space.

Bold health bar designs
By Goopanic

Beyond getting your attention, these brands also leave audiences feeling a sense of happiness from the playful energy and loud colors in the designs. It offers a memorable and positive experience that gives a light relief from the doom and gloom news cycle of war, famine and economic crisis.

3. Doing more with less

At its core, doing more with less is about making a bigger impact with fewer elements. It’s not about the minimalism design that uses beiges, whites and neutrals with a lot of blank space. Instead, this trend uses the fewest elements a brand needs to bring the maximum amount of expression and personality.

Visually, these brands use one or two colors with large and clear fonts. They use only what’s necessary to clearly communicate the message, tone and personality. This branding trend aligns with the general sentiment of having too much when we all can get by with much less. And as a response to all that excess, brands are pushing back by doing more with less.

food packaging design with only two colors and simple shapes
By Au Chon Hin via Behance

4. Substituting letters for icons

When a logo and brand name are just text, swapping a character for an icon or illustration can be a fun way to inject some personality and style into your branding. After all, it’s the first thing people see that really captures your brand overall—the tone, style, look and product.

This quirky style of branding makes a unique reference to your company and helps your brand stand out. And the added icon is a visual cue that allows people to quickly learn something about the brand. In a world where our attention spans are shorter, the quicker a brand can grab our attention and our understanding, the better.

Where using icons or illustrations in a font is normally looked down upon, it’s cleverly and clearly used here and made into an integral part that helps bring all the lettering together.

– Justin Hamra, Art Director at 99designs by Vista

six business cards, each in a different color, and each substituting a different character for the “a” in DASH
By Dash O’Brien-Georgeson via Behance

5. Mission-first branding

Most brands now understand that it isn’t enough to say they care about social causes. They need to prove it by making an impact. There doesn’t need to be such overt displays anymore. This is a sentiment we saw last year as eco brands began to drop the “eco” look and instead, many defined their brand in other ways but still adhered to their values. In 2023, we’re expecting that to continue and evolve into mission-first branding.

branding for an anti-plastic water company
Liquid Death’s mission is to get people to drink more water and stop plastic pollution. They put their mission first without a giant “we’re eco” sign. via Liquid Death
attachment 133097362
The owners of Cukui belong to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and their entire brand was inspired by their cultural experience. Design by Radioes.royale. Read more about Cukui and its brand activism campaign here.

We’re seeing brands break free from limited ideas of what a mission-first brand should look like and embrace the mission as part of the brand. People no longer want to see brands react to social causes when they become popular. They want to see these values embedded throughout the brand.

It’s about including your mission and values in the brand identity and creating meaningful action around it. Don’t just say your business cares about the environment, set up initiatives for recycling and reselling. And then weave that into every element of your branding and brand story. People have had enough of businesses not doing enough for people who need help and for the planet. Now there is an expectation for businesses to deliver.

mochinut logo
For the owner of Mochinut, cultural representation was important. And that came through in the product, as the dessert flavors represent cultural and regional pride. Logo design by Adneras.
Screenshot 2022 11 18 at 17.21.56 e1668788583787
Mochinut flavors in caramel churro and ube reflect the cultural and regional representation of its business and community. Read more about how Mochinut weaved its values into its brand here.

6. Humanizing brand personality with a mascot

In 2023, we’re seeing an uptick in strong brand mascots that are being placed front and center in branding. Rather than just being a nice design flare for a logo, these mascots bring a strong personality that uses human characteristics.

Humans love to connect, especially in today’s fractured societal landscape. From social media platforms constantly fighting for our attention to the harsh realities and impact of the economic decline, people are seeking brands that bring more honesty and authenticity. Bringing extra personality to your brand through a mascot adds a new layer of character and warmth that is something tangible for audiences to relate to and connect to.

many facial expression of Duolingo's mascot
A wide spectrum of facial expressions from Duolingo’s mascot, Duo via The Drum

7. Using humor and satire

We could all do with a laugh these days. And there’s really no need for brands to take themselves so seriously. They might find that audiences are more receptive when using a little humor to cut through the tension.

an Innocent Smoothies advert
Innocent Smoothies have always been known for its cheeky branding via Innocent Drinks

More than ever before, people want brands to be relatable. They want to know that brands are living in the same world as them and going through the same stuff—climate change, public health crises, fragmented social systems and all. And using humor and satire is a way to build that connection and get us through tough times.

Laughter is the best medicine for a reason, it makes us feel good, relieves some stress and creates a memorable experience.

@duolingo am I the new face of balenciaga? #duolingo #dulapeep #balenciaga #fashion ♬ this is viral lol – libra 🇰🇿

Duolingo uses humor to poke fun at itself and its overly pushy notification reminders via Duolingo

Ready for the top branding trends of 2023?

The 2023 branding trends reflect what people want and need during uncertain and challenging times. Overstimulated, impactful and fun branding offer ways to engage with strong visuals. And mission-first branding, humanizing brand personality and humor offer ways to build connections.

It’s important to pay attention to the 2023 branding trends because they tell us what people are looking for and how brands can deliver. This year the key learning to take away is that people are seeking relatable brands that engage with their audiences in an unmistakably authentic way. When that’s done well, brands can offer an extraordinary experience, filled with joy, laughter and connection, that won’t soon be forgotten.

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