Graphic design - like nearly all forms of media - incorporates current trends and theming that come and go throughout the years. It’s always quite entertaining and informative to look at what is currently popular, and extrapolate some design trends to come in the later half of 2022 and beyond.
Currently, it’s clear to see that both minimalism and the use of gradients are still at the forefront of corporate display. However it looks more and more likely that the cyclical nature of graphic design is pushing flat designs out the door, and could be bringing in something a lot stranger.
The Rise of Minimal Design
The easiest way to start envisioning what is to come, is by looking at the logos and stylings of major corporations in peasant day. These companies are masters at brand identity, consistency, and adapting to tried and true design trends and ideologies. While many of these companies might not be the zeitgeist of modern graphic design - they most certainly represent what is popular, consistent, and safe for most brands looking to foray into the world of corporate signage, marketing, and design.
It’s clear to see that minimalism - especially in corporate logos and branding - is still by far the most popular. Minimalist, flat logos began emerging in the early 2010’s as a way for more internet and tech savvy companies to distinguish themselves from the old 2000’s era design of beveled edges, drop shadows, and “swooshes”. As smartphones and web applications began to skyrocket in popularity, these companies needed a way to showcase their corporate identity in various different scalable screen sizes, while still remaining readable and memorable. While it may be arguable by many that flat logos are boring, cliche, and especially unauthentic - they have a certain staying power in corporate identity and graphic design, largely in part due to their memorability, clarity, and versatility - which in turn help with brand recognition.
Public Perception is Waning
Just a few years ago - no one would have batted an eye if major companies reimagined their logo to remove excess colours, varying line weights, and intricate details. In fact, many people in the general public would see this change as a welcome evolution into the modernity of corporate branding. Minimalism felt unique, bold, and ultimately cool - and was assimilated into most companies' branding sometime in the 2010’s. However, now-a-days, the perception from the general public has begun to shift. Harsher critiques and backlash towards companies reinventing their branding to something more flat has bloomed on social media. It’s clear that public thought on this design language has fallen drastically in the past few years, but the question is why?
The Cyclical Nature of Design
When people think of cyclicality - graphic design isn’t normally the first thing to come to mind. However, just like fashion or architecture, graphic design also relies quite heavily on trends coming and going in a full circle like an ever revolving door. What's popular now, will inevitably become tacky and cliche within a few years. However, if you wait just a little while longer, those same trends would come full circle and become new and popular once again. It’s why we consider the trends of the 2010’s such an eye-sore today, but at the same time 80’s and 90’s revival is becoming ever more popular. Graphic design tropes aren’t a linear timeline, passing us by to never be seen again - but instead a circle with the same crop of ideas being reinvented and reimagined every so often.
So What’s Next?
Having established that design trends usually come full circle after a while, we can now have some fun and look at what is already starting to crop up in a few select applications to further extrapolate what might be commonplace in corporate branding and design. One of the most well received corporate rebrand of 2021 was surprisingly Burger King with their 80’s revival “classic” logo and warm colours.
It’s no surprise that the 80's, 90’s, and Y2K revival is slowly gaining momentum in today's corporate branding. With Covid-19 still being a hot topic, most people are tending to move away from the cold, corporate shackles of minimalism into something more warm, inviting, and comforting. Nostalgia is, and has always been, a great feel good archetype to help bring reassurance and comfort to audiences looking for some form of escapism from the modern struggles of living in 2022. It also helps that popular culture and media has made these classic throwback themes way more prevalent with shows like Netflix’s Stranger Things and Fear Street.
It’s safe to assume that with Burger King's rebranding going over so well with the general populace, that more companies will most likely try to emulate the same results with a throwback rebranding of their own. Whether that be refitting past designs from previous years or just adapting “retro vibes” to create something wholly original - it will be interesting to see what else comes out of 2022. With the rise of younger designers tackling the front lines of branding and art direction, it for sure won’t be boring.