Monotype: Type Trends Shaped By Search For Post-Pandemic Connection

Charles Nix: “A Thrilling and Vital Time In Type”

The Monotype Studio has released its Type Trends report examining the movements shaping the creative community, informing branding, and driving design. The 11 concurrent trends identified by Monotype explore how a dramatically digitized lifestyle collides with an equally strong yearning for something tangible. Further, the report demonstrates how brands are utilizing cutting-edge font technology to meet the potential of today’s modern devices, while simultaneously repurposing familiar designs of years past in unexpected ways.

“We’re living through a thrilling and vital time in type, one that is particularly momentous in that history provides little precedent for what we’re experiencing,” said Monotype Creative Type Director Charles Nix. “This creates both a challenge and an opportunity for the creative community to build connections in a splintered world, to chart a path forward into our technological future, and to remind ourselves, at every turn, of our humanity. What this report ultimately illustrates is that we are pretty well up to the task.”

Adds Monotype Creative Type Director, Phil Garnham: “The 2021 Type Trends Report recognizes remarkable typography from the past year, but it’s also an exercise in forecasting. Across industries and geographies, we’ve affirmed that type is a pervasive beacon of exploration and innovation. Brands and agencies are utilizing type with renewed confidence and curiosity, while the creative minds developing and designing type are exploring ways to reinvent something old to innovate and twist it up into something new.”

The study delves into several themes resulting from brands beginning anew in their search for an authentic visual voice to match evolving consumer sentiment. Among the leading trends:

  • Fit for a world in restless motion, type at variable speed celebrates emerging technology and font design while unlocking new layers of range and dynamism. Studio Dumbar and the Barcelona Jazz Festival are among those pushing boundaries, developing unexpected brand experiences with the use of fonts in motion.
  • Virtual is reality as the digital and “real” worlds become one and the same. As type becomes more dynamic and interactive, the engagement between letterforms and virtual spaces accelerates. WPP Amsteldok, Pokémon Go, Type in Space, and the Design in Motion Festival are just a few recent explorers of type in immersive experiences like VR, AR and even physical environments.
  • Brands of all types and stripes are turning away from the over-tidiness of geometric sans serifs in favor of dressing up their brand voices with calligraphic impressions and more organic traits. The logotypes of Wilder Fields, Ochre and Hanayu are evidence of type cultivating contrast, expanding the idea of typographic flourish.
  • From the return of Star Wars’ iconic “R” to the gravitation towards handmade and handcrafted, nostalgia is back in a futuristic form. A nod to the vintage era of quirky letters, this combination of alluring informality, active imperfection and vibrant color schemes shows brands want a more natural and meaningful connection with consumers. The rebrand of Burger King, handwritten signage from Gucci, and the new logo for Hello Fresh are just a few of the heavy hitters proving what’s past is prologue.
  • Type is front and center again with the rise of blockheads and big ideas. Bold and brash letters maximize a brand’s presence with a tech minimalist feel that’s retro but not sentimental. From Twitch to ACMI, big type is brand confidence.
  • Type goes punk with measured austerity and a defiant embrace of non-design. Often borrowing Helvetica’s DNA, these typefaces are under-designed and confident about it. Industries making use of this trend run the gamut from pizza to publishing, and from chefs to high-end fashion logos.