Burger King revamped its logo last year to a version similar to its pre-1990s logo. The new design, which simply has the words “Burger King” sandwiched between two burger buns is cleaner and more retro compared to its earlier versions. This, however, isn’t a mere coincidence, Burger King is jumping on popular branding trends.
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Nostalgic branding has been making a resurgence in the last few years. It can be helpful for new as well as existing entrepreneurs and marketers to keep track of these trends as it can help them:
- plan their brand’s direction
- choose the right audience for their brand
- decipher their brand positioning
As the world’s largest naming and branding platform, we were keen to dissect which branding trends are the talk of the town in 2023. Here’s what we found after surveying 5,000 U.S. customers:
1. Nostalgic and retro
This type of branding involves incorporating positive ideas from the past into your brand to create an experience that your audience can reminisce about. While Burger King’s logo change was one example, Apple also used nostalgic branding by roping in Cookie Monster while launching the iPhone 6s.
In fact, more recently, influencers on Instagram and TikTok are using nostalgic branding as their entire USP by sharing ‘90s and early 2000s experiences be it clothing or trends like getting your classmates to sign your shirt on the last day of school.
This type of branding works because it reminds the audience of simpler times, which they find extremely comforting. It also aligns the brand with positive associations from the past. That’s also why nostalgic branding spiked during and after the pandemic.
Nostalgic and Retro branding was the second most popular among our survey’s respondents. In fact, its two greatest fan groups were those aged 65+ and youth in the age group 25-34.
2. Minimalistic and simple
As the name suggests, minimalistic branding focuses on a clean and clutter-free look. It’s usually made up of simple fonts, subdued colors, and usually, plenty of space around the central element of the logo. The idea is to get rid of anything extra or superficial to tell the brand story in the simplest manner possible. Popular examples include Uber and Apple, which are both simple logos in black on a white background. This type of design is common for websites and advertising as well.
Minimal branding works because of the visual relief it gives to the user. It also increases memorability as the customer does not need to remember much to register your brand in their minds. In digitally obsessed times with minuscule attention spans, this works perfectly.
A majority of respondents — just under 30% — voted for minimalistic and simple branding. Nearly half of the young males between the ages of 18 and 34 preferred this type of branding the most.
3. Inclusive and diverse
Inclusive and diverse branding has become more prominent in the last few years as companies try to weave in more divergent perspectives into their branding. The aim is to be a brand that is an advocate for social justice. Such brands also aspire and attempt to be sensitive to people from different backgrounds be it race, gender, socio-economic status, etc. While it’s difficult to identify a brand as only inclusive and diverse in its branding approach, most businesses now try to be conscious of this type of branding to appeal to all consumer segments and avoid controversies.
Popular examples include plus size brands or those within beauty and skincare catering to all skin types and colors. Bumble is another example of a brand that personifies inclusive and diverse branding by announcing upfront that women are required to make the first move when opposite-sex individuals match on the app. It is aimed at “shifting old-fashioned power dynamics and encouraging equality from the start.”
This type of branding works because it helps customers understand a brand’s values and relate to them. It also allows certain segments of the population, especially minorities, to feel included. In many cases, this is an ideal branding strategy to enhance customer loyalty.
While this was the third most popular branding trend among respondents, it was more appreciated among women than men. Young women, particularly, those between the ages of 18 to 34 were the most passionate about inclusive and diverse branding.
4. Brand activism
Brand activism is when inspiring change is part of a company’s brand strategy. This can be social, political, or economic in nature but the brand’s values align directly with positively impacting their immediate environment. Common examples are brands fighting climate change, promoting sustainability, cruelty-free practices and so on.
While many brands run such campaigns, few are committed to representing a cause through all of their of products and services. UK-based Lush Cosmetics, for example, sells fully handmade beauty products while actively fighting animal testing of such goods.
This type of branding works only if your brand’s values are fully aligned with the change you represent. It helps target a niche audience such as millennials and Gen Z, who are increasingly choosing to associate with brands whose values and actions they support and believe in. According to Deloitte, “purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors, all while achieving higher workforce and customer satisfaction.”
The 65+ age group cared the most about activism-driven branding followed by age groups 25-34 and 34-44. Overall, it was the fourth most preferred type of branding.
Metaverse branding allows companies to tap an entirely new dimension of consumers by operating in a hyper-realistic virtual world. It aims to bring the digital experience to virtual environments and vice-versa. Certain brands have been quick to hop on this bandwagon to become early adopters.
In 2021, Gucci, for example, launched Gucci Virtual 25 — a digital sneaker that users can wear in AR. Coca-Cola, too, introduced Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte — a multi-dimensional drink. Users could scan the can to enter an AR game while also experiencing a flavor of the drink in the metaverse.
Since metaverse branding is in an experimental stage and foreign to most customers, its success is hard to map. Its data and privacy concerns further cause hesitation among consumers. Yet, it is a growing technology that many brands are keen to dip their toes in.
Metaverse may seem to be the buzz in the news but the same doesn’t translate to branding. Less than 10% of the total respondents voted for brands that incorporated metaverse in their branding, with more men favoring this branding approach over women.
Summing it up
Branding trends are transient although it can be argued that some such as Nostalgic and Minimal branding top the charts every year. Nostalgia ebbs and flows like other trends, however, minimalism has been going strong for a significant time now. Yet, others that seem hype-worthy such as the metaverse may not always appeal to the masses.
While, as an entrepreneur or marketer, you shouldn’t base all your business decisions solely on the branding trends of the year, they can serve as a guidepost for consumer preferences and habits. The underlying strategy, however, that can truly boost your brand’s success is being authentic to the approach you decide to follow.