Many of us are in the mood for a little joy this January. As I reflected on the great brand projects of last year, the ones that spoke to me were the ones that felt most defiantly upbeat. There is not one way to show up — designers are using different graphic languages, making different stylistic choices and giving us a lot to look at. In that spirit, here are a few identities from last year that represent purposeful joyfulness, or what my neighbour calls "Operation Levity".
A brand for a workspace probably needs to work a little harder these days. This one does it with a sweet menagerie of characters created from floor plans that makes the idiosyncratic spaces lovable at the outset. “Pick me” they call — like I'm picking out a new puppy. The double O's of the blinking word mark become the eyes for each of the spaces, but it's the ultra-fine lines of the legs and arms that give these characters their charm. Value Serif set in jaunty layouts fits in perfectly. The video on the Hoxton Campus website is silly in the best way possible.
UAL “The Big Welcome” campaign identity
This is on many people's 'best of' lists, but also has to make an appearance on any list that's about fun. The back-to-basics logo is a great choice but it’s the ornate custom type that delivers the pure nostalgic pleasure. The entire system is filled with personality. It is loose and expressive and feels like a rebuke to modernists everywhere. The palette is also great; I support any identity that leans into brown.
By Little Troop
Another nostalgia-driven brand. I love the name, love the wood-type word mark, love the Cheerios-yellow colour. Lots of retro illustrations, outrageous alliteration and little visual messaging moments provide pops of vintage gratification.
The word mark for this patties brand is intensely bold but it’s the anchor that’s needed for a rich and vibrant expression that makes everything else in the world look pastel. The system is injected with colour, from the eye-popping palette to the super-saturated photography. The illustration style gives it a sense of humour too.
This is a bonus project for all of us who sometimes struggle to find the joy. A rebrand for a mental health resource, it manages to break with category clichés and at the same time feel very relatable. The word mark itself tells a story, but it's the palette and the black textured illustrations that bring it to life. The motion graphics are lovely.
Laura Stein RGD, Chief Creative Officer at Bruce Mau Design. BMD is a research-based design studio delivering inventive and rallying design across all the places where people connect. Home to an international community, BMD works across borders and cultures, helping organizations at every scale grow, transform and deliver indelible experiences. As Partner and Chief Creative Officer and long-time advocate for collaboration, Laura provides overall creative and strategic direction across a variety of project types, from a museum in Abu Dhabi to a greenway in Austin to a global performance brand based in Tokyo.
Top 5 Notable Canadian Rebrands in 2021 by John Furneaux RGD
Top 5 Packaging Designs of 2021 by Yurko Gutsulyak RGD
Top Five (+1) Brand Identities of 2019 by David Nuff