Best graphic design & branding projects of 2016: retro logos, the Olympics & craft beer

This year we saw a whole bunch of new start-up company logos taking form as simple, vector-based shapes, best suited for digital interfaces, and how the internet (mainly Twitter) responded to the changes (not always so well).

We also noticed long-established companies returning to previously used logos from the 1960s or earlier – such as Kodak and NatWest – not mention many-a-beautiful craft beer logo here in the UK. 

We were lucky enough to head along to a wine and type tasting night with expert Sarah Hyndman, and covered the redesigns of major brands such as Premier League, Paralympics, and most recently, the nominees for the best art vinyl of 2016. 

Dig your teeth into these meaty discussions on the note-worthy graphic design and branding projects and trends of 2016. 

Why logos are going retro

The agency behind Kodak's retro rebrand, the designer who helped take Coke back to its roots – and others – tell us why brands are choosing historical logos over new designs, when it works and when it doesn't.

This year we’ve noticed an emerging trend among major established brands, such as Kodak, the Co-op and NatWest, who have chosen to resurface logos used in the past rather than designing an entire new one when it comes time for a fresh look. 

Historical logos can work to associate these brands with nostalgia, experience and expertise that set them apart from younger start-up competitors. Alongside this trend is the increasing favour of authentic handcrafted logo designs from the 1960s and 70s.  

Read our full feature here

2016’s biggest logo redesigns


Designs have been bold and simple, and true to all effective marketing in the modern world, the redesign has been splashed across all social media platforms.  

We take a look at some of the most controversial and radical logo redesigns of 2016, beginning with Kodak and including Deliveroo, Uber, Instagram, Mastercard and more.

Read our full feature here.

Sarah Hyndman: Type Tasting


Designers know typography influences the way we view a product. Whether the typeface reflects price, style or age – it's an important part of branding. 

But typography can do more than change a perception – it can change taste.

This is what we discovered at Sarah Hyndman's wine and type tasting evening, which ran as part of the London Design Festival

Staff writer Miriam Harris went along to its opening night and discovered the power typography had over the taste of wine. 

Read our full feature here.

The ethics of UX: When is it good design and when are you just tricking people?


From dark patterns that trick unsuspecting users to mass social experiments conducted by internet giants, we take a look at the murky, increasingly complicated rights and wrongs of design – and the moral questions you should ask yourself as a designer.

At what point do normal, persuasive design tools there to make money become dark patterns? And when do routine experiments, user research and A/B testing carried out every day become wrong? And what should you, as a designer, do about it?

Read our full feature.

How to stop twitter hating your new logo


We catch up with Form co-founder Paula BensonSomeOne co-founder Simon Manchipp, and Taxi Studio co-founder Spencer Buck, to find out their thoughts and tips on how to avoid the internet’s wrath following your logo design.

If you’re a logo designer, sometimes it can feel hard to make it out of the web alive. From The Met to Gap, Uber to Airbnb, no one seems free from the internet’s judgement when it comes to logo design. 

And unfortunately, the internet’s brand of thinking is usually knee-jerk and impressionable. So, what the hell can you do as a logo designer to survive this unforgiving digital era? 

Read our full feature here.

Free pitching: Alternatives and tips to avoid it


Chefs know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Glance through the creative internet’s reaction to free pitching, and it seems designers do too. From the DBA to popular campaigns like No! Spec, free pitching – where creative agencies submit designs to a client for no pay – is overwhelming condemned. 

We discover the ins and outs of free pitching with creative director Jenny Theolin, designer Mike Dempsey, agencies Music and Zulu Alpha Kilo, and the Design Business Association (DBA). They discuss alternatives and suggest tips for avoiding it. 

Read our full feature here

Pantone colour for 2017: Greenery


For the past 16 years, Pantone has released a colour that embodies deeper societal trends, forecasting and influencing visual and design trends for the year ahead in homewares, fashion and industrial design to name a few. This year it’s Greenery. 

Manifesting as a “fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring”, Greenery envelops the notion to breathe, reinvigorate and appreciate the great outdoors.  

We discuss where Greenery is being noticed already, and why in an undeniable politically turbulent context, society is craving authenticity and simplicity.

Read our full feature here.

DesignStudio’s Premier League redesign


Not only is the Premier League important to the English identity – and to the sprinkling of Welsh teams who play in it – but is also the world’s most watched league, viewed in over 730 million households. 

Executive Creative Director of DesignStudio Stuart Watson tells us how the design agency took a brand steeped in history and catered it to a mind-bogglingly diverse global audience.

Read our full interview with Stuart Watson here

Rio Olympics & Paralympics art and design projects


Everyone was well hyped over the Olympics. Most just sit there, smiling, watching other people run real marathons on TV. But artists and designers’ celebrations offer something a little more impressive – we gathered our favourites.

See all the artwork here

British craft beer label designs


Modern craft beer often takes pride in unique but bold artistic design – simplistic, bright and brave labelling is the new face. 

Craft beer has brought better-tasting brews to discerning drinkers – and created exciting opportunities for designers and illustrators. 

the likes of BrewDog and Camden Town Brewery commissioned designs and artworks that more accurately reflected the beers, the breweries and the brewers themselves.

See the label designs here

Celebrating 100 years of the London Underground font


Overseer of London’s transport and serial producer of gorgeous designs, TfL has combined its two areas of expertise once again by launching an incredible poster campaign.  

The posters – created with 11 exciting UK design agencies and talents, including Alan KitchingBuild and Sawdust Studio – celebrate the 100th anniversary of London Underground’s Edward Johnston Sans typeface, which is a subtler, simpler but just as appreciated London icon as, say, the Houses of Parliament. 

Take a look at the posters here. 

Nominees of the Best Art Vinyl Awards

The search for the most creative and well-designed record cover art is underway.  The voted winner will sit alongside amazing designs by Dave Stansbie and Audrey Powell for David Gilmour’s 2015 album, and Dan Hilier’s design for Royal Blood in 2014.

Design experts and previous winners have curated a shortlist of 50 covers from 2016 for music artists including Rihanna, James Blake, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Underworld – not to mention the late music legends David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. 

Take a look at the nominees here.

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