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InspirationJan 26, 2022

Top 5 Brand Identities of 2021 (Joy Edition)

Written by Laura Stein RGD
Burger King

Laura Stein RGD shares charismatic brand identities from 2021 that provided a happy counterpoint to the prevailing gloom of the rest of the media landscape. Showing up in vibrant colour, expressive type, snappy motion and verbal identities to match, Laura identifies the top brand identities bringing joy to the last year.   

Many of us are in the mood for a little joy this January. As I reflected on the great brand projects oflast 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". 

Hoxton Campus

By Anagram 

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

By Alphabetical 

Turns out, the very stripped back UAL identity is a great anchor for a world of big, bouncy, 3D, colourful characters. The sheer variety of these shapes and personalities makes it a bit mad. I want to be a part of this community of misfits, making, playing and having a good time doing it. 


Burger King

By Jones Knowles Ritchie

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. 


Le Puzz

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. 


Stush Patties

By Mosaic North America

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. 


Bonus Project: Relief

By Cossette Montreal

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

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.


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