Post-Pandemic: the 2021 Typographic Trends Lookbook

Posted by in Trend Reports on May/2021

In the early days of March 2020, we shared with the design community our research on the typographic trends of the year. But the year reserved something that we couldn’t foresee and that has been a catalyst for sudden, profound and unexpected changes: the Covid-19 crisis. In a world that is continuously and deeply changing in unpredictable ways, is it still possible to discuss and identify trends related to typography and graphic design?

Despite the pandemic, brands didn’t stop communicating and had to face the new expectations of their consumers. Companies learnt to adapt their communication and tone of voice in the new panorama of social distancing, isolation and lockdowns. In this context, written and visual communication is playing a big role – and with it, graphic design and typography too. More than ever we are surrounded by visual content reaching people in the safety of their homes, conveying new brand propositions and soul comforts in the only way possible: digital.

Analyzing this panorama lead us to develop a new Type Trends LookBook, which collects insights and concepts to help the design community understand better how these collective drivers inform design trends and visual styles. As with our previous edition, our annual Type Trends LookBook can be downloaded for free in its digital version – while selected Zetafonts clients will receive a printed copy by mail.

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Realized by the Type Campus team and sponsored by Zetafonts, the Type Trends Look Book 2021 is not only a detailed and useful explanation of the main tendencies in typography but also a collection of examples to inspire the readers, showing type at work in bridging cultural values and commercial effectiveness. Divided into four purposeful sections, our Type Trends Look Book is here to help designers choose the fonts they need for their projects

FIGHT OR ESCAPE? THE POST-PANDEMIC SCENARIOS

What will the future look like after the pandemic? What new reality awaits us?

After the surreal and unprecedented experience of a covid-19 influenced life, it’s easy to see longing for normality and balance as the main drive behind consumer expectations. However, the post-pandemic scenario will be a distinctly different ‘normal’ from the one we are all used to: we call this “the new normal”, the one we will adjust to.

As we look ahead to uncertain times, we’re committed to creating real and pragmatic solutions for the challenges that lie ahead
Carla Buzasi, WGSN

Still, the road to the new normal is paved by many open-ended questions. When will all of this finish? Will we ever shake hands again? Will we be able to travel freely again? Is remote-working here to stay?

Should we fight against these burdens of uncertainty and the shadow of Covid-19? Or should we escape the current reality and find solace in a digital world? Or should we embrace what is, and search for our own truth, in which we can find comfort?

Fight, escape, find truth & comfort: these three drivers are our lenses to analyze possible behaviours and thematics.

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FIGHT

The first scenario finds its origin in the fact that many months were spent in lockdown and isolation, riddled with uncertainty. Due to the shocking circumstances and lack of normality, people found purpose in making their voices heard in favour of bigger ideals, siding with what really matters for them. Many brands have understood this emerging need and openly gave voice to contemporary social issues: according to Deloitte’s marketing trend report, in the last year, there was a 79% increase in overall positive awareness amongst brands.

ESCAPE

The uncertainty around us may however cause some to flee, in search of a safe shelter that is far from reality: a place made of reassuring borders, a place where you are in control, where you can live our phygital (physical+digital) life. To meet this need, brands recreate hedonistic heavens, filling the digital spaces with dazzling and nostalgic experiences. According to WGSN’s Value Shift Report, post-pandemic, this trend will remain a part of the new normal, across generations.

TRUTH

RPG players know that the first thing to do in front of unknown enemies is not to fight or to escape: the right move is to first get all the information about them.
In a time of post-truth, fake news and global crisis, the desire for rational understanding and a clear, truthful purpose becomes central. In this search for truth, those brands which will provide explanations and try to foster a connection with the consumers, will elevate themselves to being seen as trustworthy institutions and will fill the scariest gap of uncertainty. As Bernard Mar puts it in Forbes Business Trend 2021:  “Companies that don’t have a clear or meaningful purpose will struggle to attract talent and customers.”

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ECSTATIC DIGITAL
United by a common need to escape from harsh reality, people tend to flee towards the digital world, a safer place where Covid and all the dangers of external life cannot enter. Visual acid experimentations will be the drugs to fight uncertainty. Bright gradients, fluid materials and ironic designs will be a trip into a surrealistic world, far from everyday problems. In these immersive experiences, everything will be allowed, in order to make up for all the things we’ve lost.

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1Black Mirror: San Junipero [Netflix] / Salvatore Ferragamo Fall 2021 Digital Showcase /  Utah Monolith /  New State of Matter Discovered by Scientists: Liquid Glass

ARTIFICIAL NOSTALGIA

The more habitual people would find the phygical dimension of the digital rave far from their comfort zones and beliefs. For such people, the real values are the ones that lay in the world outside, out of their homes and in the before-covid life, like nature. This initiated the need to bring these values close to them. To create an artificial sense of space and time with nostalgia at its core. Defined as “the design equivalent of comfort food”, nostalgia in visuals already existed before the pandemic and was used to create marketing touchpoints with consumers. With Covid19, there is the need to create new old memories with a sense of comforting familiarity, making them the new healing remedy for the soul.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons [Nintendo] / Wandavision [MCU], the celebration of fake vintage / Bridgerton [Netflix] and the cottagecore aesthetic

 BOLD PURPOSE

We can no longer limit design to a mere aesthetical tool. Design has to keep pace with what is happening: it has to take responsibility, empower people and raise awareness, with an intention that is no longer commercial, but is political, social and ethical in nature.

“As designers, we are constantly seeking to create something that will make a difference and it’s not the first time we’ve seen creatives step up to the plate to help create positive social impact.” – Shillington, graphic design trends 2021

Now more than ever, there is an urgent need to use design as an instrument to communicate with a meaningful purpose. We call this design activism. Design activism can visually rely both on minimal and brutal styles. It can use rebellious layouts with big bold typography to convey urgency. Or, it can also use simple yet reassuring visuals, in order to enable straightforward communication. Whatever the direction, it is important to acknowledge that now is the time to design for good, for sustainability and for the community.

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Discover the typographic styles for each of our trends and get our free 200+ pages book by clicking here:

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