22 April 2022

2022 trends in rebranding

Expert comment
As with car design, interior design and clothing design, there are trends in brand design too.

Having recently undergone a rebrand ourselves (which meant looking at lots of other branding examples), our experts have picked out some of the key trends.

Unlike fashions that change with the seasons, branding trends develop (and stick around) for a much longer period, so following them won’t mean having to update your image again soon.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Back to basics

The evolution in print technology reached its pinnacle in the Nineties and Noughties, meaning more detail could be replicated than ever before. Design followed suit, with branding adding shadows and highlights to create detail-rich, three-dimensional logos. Many car brands in particular evolved their logos into photorealistic, chrome-effect recreations of the badges that adorn their vehicles.

Now, the world is turning away from print as digital technology takes on more importance. With it, these complex 3D logos are being abandoned in favour of simpler, flatter 2D designs that are both easier to animate and render more clearly at smaller sizes.

French car brand Renault is one of many (BMW, Nissan, Volkswagen) to have moved to a cleaner, simpler logo, with much of the visual ‘noise’ removed, in recent years. It seems likely, too, to abandon real chrome badging from its cars – the new Renault 5 electric concept car features a light-up badge.

Echoes of yesteryear

Talk of the Renault 5 brings us neatly onto our second trend. The new 5 is inspired by a model that was introduced in 1972 and sold in the US & Canada between 1976 and 1983 as ‘Le Car’; Renault’s new logo also harks back to the brand logo they used at that point.

All sorts of brands are looking to history for inspiration, whether that’s for their products or their branding. You could argue that this is inspired by recent events (we find comfort in the familiar – and we’ve all needed comfort of some sort or another lately); but we think it’s more likely that brands are seeking to ‘return to their roots’ and committing to the mission they set out to deliver, way back when.

Other brands that are harking back to previous logos include photography brand Kodak, fast food giants Burger King and British supermarket chain Co-op.

Some rebrands are designed to echo the feeling of yesterday, without being a direct facsimile. Snack brands Pringles and Planters have both gone down this route, with simpler and bolder typography that foregrounds the brand name and stands out on shelves.

Prioritizing legibility

In recent years, many successful tech brands have abandoned quirky serif typefaces and cursive wordmarks in favour of simple, sans serif alternatives (as pointed out by type foundry OH no on Twitter):

It’s arguable that this trend began with Ebay way back in 2012; now, non-tech brands are following suit as our lives become dominated by digital.

Recent converts are soup brand Campbell’s, whose logo remains based on its founder’s signature, but now features individual letters that can animate more flexibly; and fried chicken specialists Popeyes.

Their recent makeover simplifies the typography for both the brand name and ‘Louisiana Kitchen’ secondary message, and sits the former on a single baseline.

In recent days, Baskin Robbins has refreshed its brand identity with a complete overhaul that addresses feedback from consumers who perceived its look as “juvenile”. Its new look retains the ’31’ hidden in the ‘BR’ mark, while dialling back the zany type.

The purge of the ‘problematic’

In recent years, brands borne of racist stereotypes or history have been (often quietly) rebranding – typically keeping many of their existing brand assets, but shedding the bits that cause negative press.

This has been most visible in sport (the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians having renamed themselves the Commanders and Guardians, respectively); in the UK, rugby club Exeter Chiefs have dropped the Native American headdress from their branding.

Elsewhere, food brands Ben’s Original and Pearl Milling Company have left behind names and images that originate from stereotypes of enslaved black cooks: Uncle Ben’s and Aunt Jemima.

Professor Joe Cain at University College London points out the difference between history (what happened) and heritage (how you use that history now). He encourages us to think about “which heritage stories you want to tell”, and reminds us that they can change – unlike history.

Short and simple

As more of our lives are concentrated on screens and apps, brands are moving towards shorter and pithier names. Many successful modern brands (like Tinder, Uber and Zillow) have eye-catching names that often have nothing to do with their industry.

In early 2022, the UK arm of German delivery courier Hermes rebranded as Evri – possibly to distinguish from fashion brand Hermès, and equally possibly to kickstart the rehabilitation of their reputation. The brand was truly put to the test was 2020, when many of us turned to online shopping, and Hermes (along with their competitors) were called upon to help the country keep moving.

Evri have used their rebrand as a chance to relaunch themselves entirely – not just changing their name, logo, and colour palette, but completely transforming what they promise to employees and users alike.

The personification of brands

An offshoot of the ‘short and simple’ trend, we’re seeing lots of businesses use first names as their brand name: there’s business admin app ANNA; Emma, Lola and Eve (all memory-foam mattress brands); shaving brand Harry’s; and health insurance start-up Oscar – not to mention Amazon’s ever-present Alexa.

This speaks to the Millennial and Gen-Z mistrust of corporations, who prefer to engage with people they know and trust (and informs the huge boom in ‘influencer marketing’). Could you tap into this by using your given name in your brand?

Audio as a differentiator

The shift towards digital platforms (including voice-operated assistants like Alexa) also means audio is an opportunity for brands to set themselves apart.

We’ve recently worked with premium real estate brokerage Premier Sotheby’s International Realty to help them do exactly that. Having developed their visual branding as much as possible, they’ve begun looking at ways to elevate their brand experience through the other senses: sound, touch, smell and even taste.

They’re exploring ways to give their home viewings and listings a ‘Premier’ edge, with textured print finishes, tempting treats, and our exclusive music playing.

The track – performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios – is also being rolled out as hold music on their telephone system, on their company videos, and even as a ringtone on company cell phones!

Wondering how our audio could help transform your brand?

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