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The Year in Review Part 2: Recurring Trends

More often than not trends are considered a bad thing, which they can be the longer they drag on where it becomes more evident that others are trying to replicate the success achieved first by someone else but, at their most interesting, trends often reflect a reaction to something else within a similar timeframe where different designers arrived at similar solutions at the same time. Somewhere in between these two scenarios are the range of trends we saw on Brand New in 2021. Not all trends are bad, by the way, so this post isn’t meant to be a shaming exercise but a reflection of what the industry as a whole leaned on to create work. This list isn’t exhaustive either, I’m sure there are a number of things I didn’t spot, so I would love to see in the comments if you noticed a trend I didn’t. In terms of criteria for inclusion… nothing too strict: a trend had to happen at least three times. They are listed here in order of least to most recurring.

All Year-in-review Posts so far

Part 1: The Most Notable
Part 2: Recurring Trends
Part 3: The Most Not Great
Part 4: The Best Friday Likes
Part 5: The Best in Icons, Monograms, Wordmarks, and Mascots
Part 6: The Best in Proprietary Type and Use of Typography
Part 7: The Best in Color Palettes, Illustration, Photography, 3D Elements, and Motion
Part 8: The Best in Logo Evolutions, Logo Animations, Introduction Videos, Busiest Firms, and Post Titles
Part 9: The Best in Packaging
Part 10: The Best

 

 

Live-action Smartphone Mock-ups

3 projects on trend


 

This is something I would love to see more of. It’s completely gratuitous, sure, but in the age of the mock-up — and with so many mock-ups making repeat appearances across so many different projects — there is something quite pleasing about the live-action backdrops that add some context and narrative element to the design being shown on the device.

PROJECTS INCLUDED
New Logo, Identity, and Packaging for PetChoy by M — N Associates
New Logo and Identity for Match by COLLINS
New Logo and Identity for Harwell by dn&co.
 

Thin Black Stroke

3 projects on trend

Thin Black Stroke
 

This is a design move I really like as it helps tie the elements together and create a connecting thread across applications, all while literally delineating colors and shapes.

PROJECTS INCLUDED
New Identity for Culture Amp by For The People
New Logo and Identity for Dayuse.com by DesignStudio
New Identity for 2021 Sydney Film Festival by For The People
 

Marker Type

3 projects on trend

Marker Type
 

This is a trend I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of… when done right, marker type can definitely add a human touch to an identity and its gooey, hand-drawn aesthetic is always a pleasure.

PROJECTS INCLUDED
New Identity for Culture Amp by For The People
New Logo and Packaging for Oikos done by Danone North America Design and Beardwood&Co.
New Logo and Identity for TheVeganKind by B&B studio
 

Choosing Obviously

3 projects on trend

Choosing Obviously
 

Other typefaces were probably used more but there is something about OH no’s Obviously that makes it stand out as an interesting choice and it has an ability to take on different flavors depending on the client and the design.

PROJECTS INCLUDED
New Logo and Identity for Campaign Against Living Miserably by Output
New Logo and Identity for Native Foods by TOKY
New Logo, Identity, and Packaging for IKU by Universal Favourite
 

Mock Popcorn

3 projects on trend

Mock Popcorn
 

In the 15+ years worth of Brand New archives there have only been four total popcorn mock-ups. Three of those four appeared in 2021. For 2022, I would say more popcorn and less socks mock-ups.

PROJECTS INCLUDED
New Logo and Identity for DCM by MADE
New Logo and Identity for ElClásico by Vasava
New Logo and Identity for Kinema by Mucho
 

Hard Shadows

5 projects on trend

Hard Shadows
 
 

Inanimate Things with Arms and/or Legs

5 projects on trend

Inanimate Things with Arms and/or Legs
 
 

Sans and Serif Sentences

5 projects on trend

Sans and Serif Sentences
 

Mixing serifs and sans serifs is Typography 101 but this year we saw plenty of heavy-handed mixing of the two styles within the same sentence, mostly to good effect but one that maybe got tiresome towards the end of the year.

PROJECTS INCLUDED
New Logo, Identity, and Packaging for LBDO by Universal Favourite
New Logo and Identity for El Periódico de España by Futurebrand
New Logo, Identity, and Packaging for Le Puzz by Little Troop
New Logo and Identity for Upwork by Porto Rocha
New Name, Logo, and Identity for Reveal by Ragged Edge
 

1970s Typography

6 projects on trend

1970s Typography
 

This is a direct influence of the popularity of Netflix’s Stranger Things and its much-admired opening titles. The series launched four years ago but its 1970s-esque logo has inspired a slew of designers and clients to adopt the personality-filled typographic style of the decade and made it into an acceptable mainstream style.

PROJECTS INCLUDED
New Logo and Identity for Sunbasket
New Logo, Identity, and Packaging for Pillars Brewery by Thunderclap
New Logo and Packaging for Follow Your Heart by Chase Design Group
New Logo and Identity for Plenty by &Walsh
New Logo and Identity for Hungry Harvest by BBMG
Follow-up: New Logo and Identity for Keymaster by Focus Lab
 

Extra Curvy Serifs

6 projects on trend

Extra Curvy Serifs
 
 

Sans + Curl

6 projects on trend

Sans + Curl
 

Loosely related to the above and a direct reaction to avoiding the “Basic, Standalone Wordmarks” of 2020, some basic, standalone sans serif wordmarks were given an extra curl here or there to make them more unique and distinguishable.

PROJECTS INCLUDED
New Logo and Identity for Swile by LORD
Camp by The Refreshment Club
New Logo and Identity for Tutorful by Output
New Logo and Identity for Meridiam by OPX
New Logo for Shapermint
Wild. by Marlon Studio
 

Hiring Colophon Foundry

7 projects on trend

Hiring Colophon Foundry
 
 

Exclamation Points!

9 projects on trend

Exclamation Points!
 
 

Brand Flexes

11 projects on trend

Brand Flexes
 

This trend may not seem completely new as there was a similar inclusion in 2020 under “Corp Merch” but it seems brands tried to outdo each other this year with even more radical ideas. There are 11 included here but there were at least a dozen others out there that we didn’t post on Brand New.

PROJECTS INCLUDED
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup 9-inch, 3.25-pound pie
Arby’s french-fry-flavored vodka
Hostess Cupcake hat
Google Pixel 6 chips
Hallmark Channel rosé wine seltzer in a can
Pabst Blue Ribbon 1,776-pack
Oscar Mayer bacon-scented shoelaces
7-Eleven pijamas
Hidden Valley Ranch ranch-flavored eggnog kit
Burger King mini burger wrapped like a candy
Miller Lite can-concealing tree ornament
 

Odd Brand Collabs

11 projects on trend

Odd Brand Collabs
 

Tightly related to the above, some brands joined forces to create product Frankensteins that ranged from “Oh, cool” to “What the hell?”. There is something interesting about this trend and the one above where I think it’s a direct result of the pandemic and brands trying to reach their audience in new and exciting ways and create some sense of connection at a time where it’s much more difficult to engage and interact.

PROJECTS INCLUDED
E.L.F. Cosmetics + Chipotle
Crocs + Balenciaga
Kellogg’s + Wendy’s
Van Leeuwen + Kraft
Whataburger + Academy Sports
Cheetos + Mountain Dew
Stella Artois + Palace Skateboards
New Balance + Miller Lite
Backdrop + Dunkin’
Adidas + LEGO
Pepsi + Peeps
 

Next-level Gradients

12 projects on trend

Next-level Gradients
 

Gradients are far from new and they have been a trend on and off for decades but in 2021 gradients were taken to the next level as an identity element. They were given textures, they were put in motion, they were arranged in more complex compositions than linear or radial, and they were never only two colors. In most cases these were really well done and provided novel interpretations of a design tool we’ve all had at our disposal since the advent of Photoshop and the reality that “But, will it fax?” has been replaced with “But will it Instagram?” and these gradients are prime to answer that question with a resounding “Yes”.

PROJECTS INCLUDED
New Logo and Identity for Trackinsight by How&How
New Logo and Identity for Leva by That Thing
New Logo and Identity for Hotjar by How&How
New Logo and Identity for National Gallery of Canada by AREA 17
New Logo and Identity for Oneflow by MultiAdaptor
New Logo and Identity for Matter by Interbrand
New Logo and Identity for Baltimore Museum of Art by Topos Graphics and Bruce Willen
New Logo and Identity for Realm by Mother Design
New Logo and Identity for ABBYY by Shuka
New Logo and Identity for Match by COLLINS
New Name, Logo, and Identity for Reveal by Ragged Edge
New Logo and Identity for Habito by Uncommon
The End

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