This year has seen some major brand overhauls – some of which were even well received on Twitter – as well as ongoing love for nostalgia, digital minimalism and gradients
Much of the year’s big branding news was about nostalgia: perhaps in these strange, uncertain and pretty depressing times brands are latching on to things they reckon will make us feel nice (and buy their products).
Elsewhere, we’ve seen a continuation of some graphics trends that seem to be here to stay: refinement and minimalism (almost overwhelmingly in a bid to help brands flex across ever-growing digital touchpoints as well as traditional ones); as well as the soft cheery vibes of a nice gradient.
The retro feel of gradients has also been echoed in other tropes this year, such as friendly 60s-leaning serif fonts and the 70s caravan interior colour palettes used in probably the biggest redesign this year: Burger King.
Here, we run through a few of the standout trends from another strange 12 months.
THE CIA PUT THE FINAL NAIL IN THE ‘CLUB GRAPHICS’ COFFIN
When the new CIA branding was revealed in January this year, it was derided by many for apparently pinching styles once associated with all things countercultural – clubbing, raves, cerebral synth music – and repackaging them for ‘the man’.
The second year of the pandemic brought about yet more uncertainty, but there was also plenty of innovation, humour and hope. Here we look back at the creative trends over the past 12 months
Welcome to the winners showcase for this year’s Creative Review Photography Annual, where we celebrate the world of photography in all its forms – personal work, advertising, editorial, student/grad work and more. Shown here are our winners and honourable mentions for this year, selected by an expert panel of judges
Following the release of Adele’s latest album, creative director and long-time collaborator Phil Lee discusses what it’s like to help create a brand for one of the world’s biggest artists
Print shop They Made This enlisted the German artist to bring some cheer to London with a new set of uplifting illustrations
As the iPod turns 20, Joe Belliotti, CEO at MassiveMusic North America, reflects on how Apple used sonic branding to help us get used to a revolutionary new product, and to stand out
The American publisher has spent the last 23 years defiantly doing the opposite of everyone else in the book and magazine world. Here’s how McSweeney’s creates its distinctive and often daring tone of voice
It was the Christmas ad that launched a thousand Christmas ads, and established John Lewis’s festive branding tropes for a decade to come. Director Dougal Wilson and adam&eveDDB co-founder Ben Priest remember how The Long Wait was made
Our agony aunt Anna Higgs addresses a reader’s questions about life as a parent in the creative industry. We hear about the advantages parenthood can bring to the workplace, but also of the inequalities that remain across some of the industry
For the first time, the colour experts have created a brand new hue for the annual announcement – and it’s a lilacy blue that speaks to the future of fashion as well as the metaverse
Created by Droga5 for the Asian American Federation, the vintage-inspired posters provide a clever take on a loaded question: where are you really from?
The founder of Risotto Studio, the Glasgow print shop devoted to the glories of printing and paper, talks about the bustling art scene in the city, the beauty of keeping things small, and her house style
Peter Levelle, director and former head of TV production at the storied Collett Dickenson Pearce, shares the ad agency’s gospel – including handling difficult clients, keeping creatives happy, and adopting a punishingly scrupulous approach to ideas
The Berlin-based digital artist works with AI and AR to create surreal portraits and filters. She talks to us about ethics, beauty, and the exchange between analogue and digital
We talk to creatives aged 19 to 87 about their experiences in the creative industry, their hopes and dreams, the changes they have witnessed, and what developments they hope may come in the future
The acclaimed filmmaker has dipped his toe into advertising, teaching and even brand-building during his four-decade career. As he releases his first monograph, we look at how he became a pop culture icon
As the festive season wafts in, on a cloud of scent, we find out what makes fragrance ads so compelling – with help from spoof Twitter sensation @perfumeads
The submissions-based project is curated by Karni Arieli. Here she talks about the inspiration for the series, the themes explored and how it helped her connect with her own practice
We speak to the New York native about meandering between the paths of fashion, graphics and art direction, plus her ever-evolving collaboration with Solange at creative agency Saint Heron
From Thamesmead to Tokyo and New York, Shantell Martin has taken her line-drawn style around the world – but it’s been a bumpy journey. As she sets her sights back on the UK she chats with CR about how art became a tool to “express, extract and deal”
Designer Matt Willey and editor Dan Crowe have reunited on Inque, a decade-long collaboration born out of what they love (and hate) about the world of magazines. We speak to the duo about bringing the first issue to life
The information designer and Pentagram partner has filled a Moleskine notebook with “a visual archive” of her memories, sewing over 14,000 stitches to represent each day of her life so far
Filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang is known for his otherworldly visions, earning him high-profile collaborations with Björk and FKA twigs. He talks to us about the need to allow creatives to grow as their careers develop
As the Modernist celebrates its 10th anniversary, the team behind the publication discuss the trials and tribulations of running an indie mag and how it has stood the test of time
Advertising has long been obsessed with youth. But is the industry finally waking up to the opportunities that older generations present, both in campaigns and behind the scenes?
The photographer has published a book of images she created during the UK’s first lockdown when people adjusted to new ways of living and connecting with each other
Is there a responsibility for cultural institutions to not just reflect the past, but contemplate the future as well? National Gallery Victoria curator Ewan McEoin talks to CR about the museum’s latest show on sustainability and why they want to invest in designers
AI is often viewed as the death of creativity. Yet, as Maximilian Niemann, a director at Unit9 production company, points out, when machines are used in collaboration with humans, it may actually make for better work
Focusing on an unlikely friendship that forms between a young boy and his new intergalactic companion, the spot is all about the little things that matter during the festive season
Since the 1980s, the filmmaker and artist has turned his lens towards the fringes. He talks to us about relinquishing control, Hollywood reboot culture, and how a Gucci mini-series captured the spirit of his early works
For decades, comic books have showcased vibrant graphic design that is a pivotal part of the superhero world. Liz Stinson, editor of a new book celebrating Marvel, discusses the publisher’s lasting contribution to visual culture
As brands cotton on to the potential of gaming, CR explores why it’s a good fit for fashion labels, and what the future could hold for digital clothes, esports sponsorships and in-game narratives
At this year’s Festival of Marketing: The Year Ahead, Kemi Anthony, marketing communications manager at Ikea, and Katie Mackay-Sinclair, partner at Mother, discussed how nurturing a decade-long relationship has led to an array of successful campaigns
The Ghana-based photographer discusses the challenges of being a female photographer in Africa and why she hopes her images inspire others to see the value in creative jobs
Denis Villeneuve’s adaption of cult sci-fi novel Dune is a masterclass in world-building. We speak to the film’s production designer Patrice Vermette about helping the director bring his intergalactic vision to life
Wes Anderson’s star-studded film follows the dramas that unravel in a fictional French city, told from the perspective of expat journalists. We look at how graphic design and illustration brought the movie to life
We speak to Lazy Oaf founder Gemma Shiel about her journey from printing T-shirts in her dad’s garage to spending the last two decades at the helm of one of the most creative fashion brands going
An illustration-heavy visual identity introduces the city’s new Bonjour RATP app, which lets Parisians navigate the Metro, reserve bikes and hail a cab
Somerset House’s new exhibition explores the comic’s lasting, subversive influence, finding links between its gleeful rule-breaking and the work of contemporary artists and creatives
Daniel Kleinman has been the creative mind behind almost every 007 title sequence since the 90s. He discusses his work on Daniel Craig’s final foray in No Time to Die and how he finds the delicate balance between reinvention and homage
The photographer switched his focus from the hip-hop scene to the Black Lives Matter movement last year in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Now, he’s turned his series into a book
Interest in home improvement exploded in the wake of the pandemic. We speak to DIY veteran B&Q and D2C startup Lick about how they’re communicating with consumers and whether the sector can sustain its lockdown success
In the competitive world of illustration, adopting a signature motif or icon in your work can help you grow your brand and your career. Here, CR speaks to three illustrators about the benefits and challenges of making one element your trademark
Wieden + Kennedy Tokyo’s ECD discusses his experiences working everywhere from Shanghai to London, and explains what it takes to be successful as a globetrotting ad creative
Duolingo’s creative director James Kuczynski speaks to CR about how the app keeps users engaged, but also how it translates a sense of fun into its communications
The posters feature bold illustrations and photography and also reveal a refreshed design identity for the trademark Coke logo
The artist and author delves into his philosophically minded approach to creativity, including the importance of solitude and his attempt to translate the metaphorical “magic” of Haruki Murakami
‘Earth-conscious’ biodesign company Geltor has a new look by &Walsh that draws on cells and natural ingredients, brought to life with the help of striking art direction
As the business unveils a major rebrand, founder Taymoor Atighetchi shares how he’s spent the last six years building a category-defining stationery brand
Last week a revamp, albeit a temporary one, of the British Rail double arrow logo caused a stir in the design press and on social media. CR speaks to Studio Blackburn, the team behind the update, to get an insight into the project and how they felt about the reaction
Snack brand Pringles has revealed the first update to its mascot in 20 years. JKR creative director Della Lawrence takes us through the new branding, including Mr P’s widely discussed haircut
Mark Hauser, applied behavioural scientist at branding agency The Team, discusses how psychology could create more effective, human-centred creative work
Hosted at New York’s Poster House, the Push Pin Legacy brings together over 200 posters by the likes of Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, Reynold Ruffins and Edward Sorel
Logos, exhibition design and book covers can often seem like the zenith of graphic design. Do reports, documents and catalogues get overlooked by comparison?
Lil Nas X is ripping up the music rulebook with his rap-country-pop sound, gender-bending style and eye-catching creative output. As he releases his debut album, we look at how the artist brings his unique vision to life
The artist, photographer, designer and director talks to CR about working at speed, the joy of not being confined by one discipline, how he balances the commercial with the personal, and why his spirit animal is a cross between a chameleon and a dung beetle
New book London Shopfronts, published by Hoxton Mini Press, offers a photographic guide to some of the capital’s most striking independent retailers, old and new, and reveals how style and uniqueness remain crucial for attracting customers
We speak to the creatives behind successful political campaigns for the UK’s Conservative party and US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about the role of design and creativity in the battle for voters
The devil on the ad industry’s shoulder might still say that fast fashion and oil companies aren’t so bad, but some design studios are taking an ethical stand. But can ‘good’ clients and big business can ever live in harmony?
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