Go big. Go bold. Go bright.

Are you of the generation where you remember starting up the computer, opening Microsoft Paint and just chucking shapes and bright colours around with gleeful abandon? I know I am, but maybe that’s just showing my age.

We’re seeing a shift towards a return of play and a revival of the colour-loving child within. If you want to get noticed in 2022 then you might want to think big, bold and bright. Fun fonts, playful copy and colourful characters are set to be major players in the coming year; the sort of branding that grabs hold of audiences and demands to be displayed on the fridge for all to see.

It will be of little surprise to find out that light-hearted, seriousness-not-required brands are embracing this with ease. UK coffee giant Costa has adopted quirky caricatures for its recently rolled out loyalty scheme, while milk alternative behemoth Oatly has opted for what can only be described as thrilling chaos, as seen on their current homepage. Let’s not even get started on IKEA’s buff bears, one of the most memorable ads of recent months.

What might be a little more thought provoking is that traditionally serious industries have also started to adopt this technique. It’s as if there’s been a mass realisation by those aiming to solve grown-up problems like insurance and finances that they’re not exactly the coolest kids on the block.

GoCompare have adopted bright blocks of colour with a smiling newspaper-clipping style mugshot of their divisive mascot, while mortgage lender Habito, always ahead of the branding trend curve, enlisted swirling gradients and eye-catching illustrations early in 2021.

With these in mind, 2022 is set to be won by the brands that shout the loudest.

Retro vibes

The nostalgia phenomenon seen in all areas of pop culture has continued to grow, no doubt in part due to the all-too-dystopian nature of modern reality. Films, TV, games and music are all flooded with it, and it seems that major brands also want to get in on the action. In 2022, we’ll be seeing a return to logos, campaigns and styles that stir up fond memories of simpler times.

The bold, bright colour blocks, clever use of gradients and in-your-face style discussed in the previous section already go some way to evoking these emotions. However, for some it’s a little more obvious than that. Long-serving brands such as Burger King and Peugeot have already taken a step in this direction, with logo redesigns (or retrodesigns) paying homage to their long history and evoking design elements from the past.

Elegant simplicity

Along with a return to simpler times, design simplicity is also set to be a major player in 2022. Whether it be adopting a minimalist approach in your designs or clever use of negative space, many brands are sticking with the “less is more” mantra.

This style is effective as it creates an uncluttered canvas that affords the brand room to breathe, but it poses a challenge for designers. Logos, typography, marketing collateral and brand personality all need to create the maximum possible impact using back-to-basics elements like constrained colour palettes, an abundance of empty space and simple, limited text. When done right, however, this approach is a fantastic way to create an instantly recognisable brand with a distinct feel of sophistication.

What should your brand be doing in 2022?

Branding in 2022 is going to be incredibly interesting, with a mix of in-your-face visuals and less-is-more elegance. So, which way should your brand lean? Try something new this year, moving away from comfortable norms and taking a risk on something truly outstanding.

Whichever path you choose, branding trends for 2022 suggest it’s going to be a very interesting year indeed.