Escapism Is the Defining Design Trend of 2023 for Brands

Escapism Is the Defining Design Trend of 2023 for Brands

Creatives are embracing visual styles that reflect both our chaotic social climate and collective coping strategies.

From channeling a sense of spiritual refuge and childlike joy to embracing the optimism and promise of new frontiers in technology and outer space, these are the escapism-infused trends permeating design as we head into 2023. 

Mysticism goes mainstream 

After years of adversity and ongoing uncertainty, consumer appetite for the metaphysical has soared, particularly among Gen Z and millennial audiences with substantial spending power.

Building on a growing movement of marketers looking to the stars, mystical and astrological iconography in branding is here to stay. Suited to social, limited-edition packaging and campaigns, this versatile visual trend enables businesses to lean into customers’ desire for connection and personalization in an accessible, infinitely adaptable way. 

The significance of mysticism-infused design is its ability to act as a kind of shorthand for community-building and creating a sense of belonging. The prevalence of new age and zodiac symbolism, alongside tarot-inspired design used by major brands including McDonald’s, Spotify and MAC, reflects a deep cultural desire for meaning that has become undeniably mainstream.

Whether tongue-in-cheek or intentionally channeling a need to take back power in a chaotic world, brands both small and large are certain to keep leveraging the comfort and reassurance this trend offers people in difficult times.

Sci-fi and the space beyond 

Outer space has always been a rich source of creative inspiration, and with broader conversations around the metaverse and AI gaining traction across a variety of sectors, yesterday’s science fiction is rapidly becoming reality. The mixed reaction of this progress creates such an interesting space for brands to explore: the anxiety of humans being replaced against enormous potential and opportunity.

In response, creatives are embracing a pivotal cultural moment when it comes to logo and brand design, both in terms of capturing the optimism of future possibilities in worlds we have yet to discover and tapping into the fascination, excitement and even fear that we may have experienced as children first learning about the universe. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola captured this sentiment and sense of anticipation particularly well with the launch of its limited-edition drink, Starlight, advertised as “tasting like space.”

From nostalgic ’90s space psychedelia to design with a more dystopian edge, the common thread in this unapologetically experimental trend is the notion of far-flung worlds and ideas coming closer, something that has undeniable appeal, given the current social and political reality. 

Playful positivity through doodles

When it comes to escapism in design, the results don’t always need to be dramatic to provide relief. In fact, after three years of intense stress and anxiety, celebrating the small, everyday moments that lift people’s spirits can be just as powerful for connecting with consumers.

With brands seeking out and elevating positivity, there is also a growing momentum toward charming logos and brand design that seem like a pure reaction to the harshness of the world around us. The humor and playfulness we see in brands—like Byron Burgers, with its mischievous mascot, George “the poetic pickle”—is the perfect antidote to our news feeds and offers yet another form of escapism through doodles that might seem suited to the margin of a school book.

In contrast to the more expansive styles explored above, this trend seeks to re-create feelings of safety, reminding us of youthful days with few responsibilities.

Given the nature of our complex moment in history, it’s hardly surprising that we’re seeing both creatives and consumers drawn to this kind of collective visual refuge. But whether through mysticism, the promise of space exploration and the great beyond or intentionally innocent and lighthearted nostalgia, escapism is the name of the game for brands seeking to resonate in 2023.

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