Graphic design has many types, styles, elements and popular waves adapting to the ever-changing culture, fine art and human habits. Here are some of the most important and resonant styles that are commonly used today.
From flat design and minimalism to bold colors and 3D illustration, there are many ways to utilize graphic design to the best of your needs and brand identity. But what are these styles, and what do they express? Why can’t you use Bauhaus for a toy company or bright colors and cartoon illustrations in banking? Because every graphic design style has a distinct voice and application. Let’s take a look at each prominent graphic design style and its use in this ultimate guide.
Still, keep in mind that most of these styles are often interchangeable and every design work can consist of more than one style (for example, minimalist typography).
The typography style of graphic design consists of modifying and playing with typefaces to invoke a feeling or relay a message to the public. Sometimes, typography can be metaphorical (typographic illustrations, posters, word pictures), while other times it will just be used literally (logo design, headings, packaging).
There are different types of typography, such as serif, script, sans serif fonts, decorative lettering and others. They have to serve not only the purpose of legibility but also the overall aesthetic and look of the design. The text of the script has to be relevant and on-brand with the overall message and identity.
There are graphic designers who work solely on studying and creation of typography.
The typography style fits any industry or market since it encompasses many styles and options. The most important graphic style inside typography is the International Typographic Style, most commonly known as the Swiss Style, that had a huge impact on the modernist design and advertising graphic design in the past century.
Since “retro” is a word that reflects a retrospective style or appreciation of the past, it is a wide term that can encapsulate many old styles. That depends on the current tastes and popular designs, but most commonly retro or vintage represent the old Victorian style of graphics and typography, the 19th-century industrial style and the 20th-century Art Deco Style and the Art Nouveau movement.
Lately, retro also can mean bumper-stickers and colorful posters and groovy lettering from the 60s and 70s, or 80s and 90s style of neon illustration and bright colors.
The retro style is widely popular in products and some service industries. However, it’s uncommon to use it in corporate design.
Mila Katagarova on Behance
A three-dimensional style is characterized with life-like shapes, natural lighting effects, and an illusion of bigger depth and volume. It’s sometimes hyperrealistic, and still a common sight in graphic design trends nowadays. In modern graphic design, you will commonly see 3D illustrations that are very abstract and have bold color schemes, mostly used for digital marketing purposes, landing page design, web design, etc.
Ryogo Toyoda on Behance
Horacio CG on Behance
A design project the steps out of the lines of conventional, predefined style and use of design elements, is abstract. Just like abstract fine art, abstract graphic design is somewhat random and subjective, so every person can experience it differently.
In abstract design, it’s not uncommon to see unlikely color palettes, distorted shapes, grainy patterns and unusual use of negative space.
It’s rarely used in corporate or advertising design, and more common in decorative arts, editorials, album covers, magazine design, etc.
Clean geometric shapes, monochromatic palettes and backgrounds, natural forms of lettering and an overall toned-down aesthetic is typical for the minimalist style of design.
Minimalism exudes a sense of luxury, eliteness, mysticism and scarcity, so its use in corporate design, advertising, packaging is expected. If you’re striving for simplicity and communicating your brand message directly, minimalist design is the style to consider.
JO CHUNYAN on Behance
Monika Pernavaitė on Behance
Photorealism or photorealistic illustrations are the design works that make you look twice to check if it’s not really a photo. They are realistic representations of natural shapes and forms, colors and other design elements in illustration. They are very detailed, have many lines, colors and a truthful resemblance to the real image or inspiration.
Photorealism is commonly used in architecture renders, interior design plans, advertisement, mockups, as well as in CGI in motion design.
Paweł Pęcherzewski on Behance
Luca Martinelli on Behance
Flat design is two-dimensional, and usually more simplistic than say 3D illustrations. A typical representation of flat design is icons, pictograms and simple illustrations. Flat design tends to be simplistic and monochromatic because you don’t need a natural lighting effect to accentuate one color and create the illusion of depth.
The flat design style is popular in web design and digital marketing, as well as UX and landing pages. You can find many flat design illustrations in ManyPixels’ vast gallery of great free resources.
Jonathan Larenas on Behance
Kushanthi Hasinika on Behance
The type of design that is based on sharp geometric shapes, accentuated lines and edges, and a balance between the abstract and realist. One of the most important schools of design, Bauhaus, is mostly based on the geometric style. Geometric designs often overlap with minimalism, modernism and even typography, since there is a whole subcategory of geometric typefaces.
ONTO Design Studio & C. Kalkan on Behance
Jacson Silveira & GH Branding on Behance
The grunge style of graphic design and typography is a sort of a counter-movement, a way to stand up to the conventional ideas and principles of design. It’s considered to be a counterpart to punk in graphic design. It is often Gothic and dark, and the images are gritty and rough.
Faizan Bhatti on Medium
We hope this helped you distinguish different styles of graphic design. Naturally, there are many more styles, as well as types of graphic design. Learn more about them here.
If you’re willing to learn more about the skills a good graphic designer should have in their resume, we’ve got you covered.... Read more
From godfathers like Paul Rand to contemporaries like Jessica Walsh, learn about the Rembrandts and Picassos of graphic design.
Pop culture, marketing, fine art, music and other disciplines influenced graphic design, but nothing influenced it more than some industry giants. The 20th century reshaped the way we perceived visual arts and used them for marketing, advertising or promoting any idea, and the design industry took flight very quickly. Many graphic designers that became iconic and influential in this industry worked in the Mad Men-era of graphic design, pre-Photoshop and Illustrator, experimenting with what they have as physical objects.
Keep reading to learn more about the most famous graphic designers and AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) medalists who shaped graphic design as we know it today.
Paul Rand didn’t only have a stellar career as a graphic designer and art director, but shaped the way a corporate logo looks today. This creative genius was behind the IBM, ABC, Enron, Morningstar, UPS and many other logo designs, as well as the corporate identities that they use to this day. Rand famously developed the Next Computers brand identity for $100.000 for Steve Jobs, who was then fired from Apple Computers, without even letting the client adjust or brainstorm on the idea.
Rand also designed widely used typefaces like Helvetica. He was a professor emeritus of graphic design at Yale University.
He is also known for being one of the early adopters of the Swiss style of design in the United States, especially in commercially successful industries and businesses’ corporate designs. He was dedicated to the modernist school of thought, looking up to artists such as Paul Sezanne, Pablo Picasso and Jan Tschichold, famously saying that “the problem of the artist is to defamiliarize the ordinary”.
In his 1999 biography of Paul Rand, the author Stephen Heller wrote that “he was the channel through which European modern art and design Russian Constructivism, Dutch De Stijl and the German Bauhaus was introduced to American commercial art.”
From the Burberry logo to one of the most beautiful album cover designs—Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures”, Peter Saville is well known for his role in spreading graphic design across mediums and closer to pop culture. He co-founded Factory Records in 1978 with Alan Erasmus and Tony Wilson, and they went on to create hundreds of album covers. Apart from designing for cult bands like Joy Division and New Order, he has created album covers for David Byrne, Pulp, Brian Eno, King Crimson, Peter Gabriel and many others. He is also famous for re-contextualizing and adapting other visual arts examples into his works, like using “Roses”, a painting by Henri Fantin-Latour combined with a color-coded alphabet to create New Order’s “Power, Corruption and Lies” album cover.
We are all used to using the heart symbol instead of writing “love”, but before Milton Glaser’s “I Love New York” design, that was inconceivable. This legendary graphic designer who passed away earlier this year has made his name designing popular logos, such as the DC Comics and Brooklyn Brewery, as well as creating eye-catching, psychedelic inspired poster designs like the famous ones with Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin.
He co-founded and wrote for the New York magazine in 1968, which still exists and comes out biweekly to this day.
Glaser has made some of his typography elements available for free by publishing the Glaser Stencil typeface in 1970.
Many artists are known for being an odd egg, but Stefan Sagmeister takes peculiarity and experimentation to another level.
This Austrian graphic designer has designed many famous album covers for Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones, and Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” box set. But apart from commercially known designs of his, he has a knack for innovative media.
One such example is his Banana Wall, which was literally a wall of 10,000 bananas. Green bananas created a pattern against a background of yellow bananas spelling out ”Self-confidence produces fine results”. After a while, the green bananas turned yellow and the text disappeared, but then the yellow bananas turned brown it reappeared together with the artist's self-confidence, he often jokes.
He co-founded the Sagmeister & Walsh studio with Jessica Walsh (more about her later).
Massimo Vignelli was originally an architect who graduated from Politecnico Di Milano, one of Europe’s most respected engineering schools, who went on to become a famous designer of… well, all sorts of things. He was famously governed by the motto “If you can design one thing, you can design everything”. He was a follower of the Modernist school of design and used geometrical forms in all his creations.
From packaging to interior design, he has worked in many areas and with high-profile clients like IBM, American Airlines, Bloomingdale and the City of New York, for which he designed the New York City Subway Map. He considered this simplified visual for navigation to be one of his greatest creations. And he was right since this map is thought to be a landmark in the Modernist information design.
Vignelli also worked on several typefaces, improving and simplifying very notable fonts like Bodoni, Helvetica and others.
nyc subway map.jpg
Cooper Hewitt Collection
Kate Moross is a designer mostly known for their typographic illustrations, blasts of color and taking inspiration from tribal art. From Cadbury’s milky logotype to the Spice Girls’ tour visuals, they have a huge presence in everyday things and pop culture. Working for their own Studio Moross, they’ve lent their colorful vision and artistry to the entertainment business, as designer and art director to various MTV and Nickelodeon projects, many music festivals and record artists’ album covers.
They’ve also written the book Make Your Own Luck: A DIY Attitude to Graphic Design & Illustration, as well as sailed the waters of vinyl publishing with Isomorph Records.
art and bikes.jpg
They Made This
They Made This
If you ever stared at a beautiful book cover for minutes and wondered how designers can be so ingenious, chances are it might have been either designed or influenced by Chip Kidd. this designer, who's currently working as an art director for Knopf, has worked or freelanced for all the major book publishers like Amazon, Penguin, Columbia University Press, HarperCollins, and many others.
He has designed for writers and artists like Haruki Murakami, Frank Miller, Charles Shultz, Cormac McCarthy and many others. Apart from illustrating and editing amazing book jackets and covers, Kidd has two of his own book series, some graphic novels and a history of drawing for the Batman comic series.
David Carson is considered to be the rule-breaker of graphic design and the father of so-called “grunge typography”. Widely respected for his works in magazine cover and typography poster design. He could be described as an anarchist in his style since he’s trying to break and re-establish the rules of design.
He is also famous for his work ethos: he doesn’t start working on a project until he has experienced the art, product, or service it represents first.
Deemed “the godfather of British modern design”, Alan Fletcher had a stellar career and ground-breaking typography and poster designs. Throughout his career, he worked for high-esteemed design studios like Pentagram, as well as his co-owned design firm Fletcher/Forbes/Gill. He worked on his book on graphic design, “The Art of Looking Sideways”, for 18 years. He has also published a book of his designs called “Beware of Wet Paint”.
Some of his most famous works include the Victoria & Albert museum logo, a now-retired logo for Reuters, as well as the logo for the Institute of Directors.
pirelli alan fletcher.jpg
From designing children's book covers in Random House to being the art director of Atlantic Records in charge of album covers, Paula Scher has had a respectable career. She is also known as the first woman who became the principal of the iconic design studio Pentagram.
While working there, Scher has created notable brand identities, such as the Museum of Modern Arts, The Public Theater, The Metropolitan Opera, NYC Ballet, and others. One of her most famous logos is the Windows 8 logo. Up until that point, Microsoft used the 4-color flag as a logo, but Scher redesigned it to a more obvious object: a window.
She has also worked in environmental graphic design, bettering the designs of buildings to the best conditions set by the environment.
In her typography works, she relies heavily on Art Deco and Russian Constructivism.
If there is a designer who toyed with censorship and pushed forward the boundaries of what is accepted in the design industry, it’s Herb Lubalin. Working for three infamous magazines that were blamed for obscenity in the 60s and 70s, to publicly criticizing bad leadership, discrimination and the state of politics in a time where it wasn’t generally accepted to do that, Lubalin infused his designs with ingenuity, sarcasm and intelligent humor.
He is most famous for inventive typography he himself called “word pictures”: creating shapes with lettering. He rejected the Swiss style of design to adopt a more humanistic approach and used avant-garde typography and minimalist color palettes. He was colorblind, which would be considered a great obstacle for a graphic designer, but his use of white, black and grey defined his work.
Lubalin is one of the most inventive designers in the mid-20th-century American advertising revolution and has worked for many big-time clients, from pharmaceutical companies to Cadillac.
It’s hard to imagine the world without stick figure signage in public spaces and traffic, and the heavy use of pictograms that explain everything better. But, before Otl Aicher, stick figure signs were nowhere to be found. This German designer created the first stick figure pictograms for the 1972 Munich Olympics. Since then, they were adopted everywhere: from traffic signs to airport signage.
He is also considered to be one of the forefathers of corporate design, having worked for Lufthansa and Braun, among others.
He has also created book cover designs, typography, and even furniture.
Apart from his design work, Aicher is known for strongly opposing the Nazi regime in Germany.
Saul Bass is a prominent graphic designer who created some of the most iconic movie posters and went on to become an Academy Award winner for his directorial work as well.
He has created posters for Hollywood legends of the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorcese, Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger and Stanley Kubrick, most notably the “Vertigo”, “North by Northwest” and “Anatomy of a Murder”.
He was also a visual consultant to Hitchcock, producing title sequences and graphic transitions for “Psycho”.
Bass is also known for being the Kleenex logo designer.
He won the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary, for his film “Why Man Creates” in 1968.
Michael Bierut is a graphic design contemporary, who worked for Vignelli Associates, learning directly from Massimo Vignelli, as well as for Pentagram. He is a professor at Yale and worked on the syllabus for the design thinking program. Beirut is also a well-known design critic.
Some of his notable designs and clients include Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign logo, the redesign of The Atlantic, Mastercard, Beneton, The Museum of Sex, Motorola, The Walt Disney Company, United Airlines, and many others. He has also developed environmental signs for The New York Times building.
He regularly writes for the Fast Company and The New York Times about corporate branding and design and has written four books on design.
The youngest person on this list who defines graphic design styles and trends today is Jessica Walsh, who became a partner at Sagmeister & Walsh at only 25 years old. Prior to that, she has already done magazine covers for the New York Times, books and magazines, and was interning for Paula Scher and Pentagram.
Walsh is thought to have a bold, colorful and often surrealist style, that she infuses in all her products, from magazine covers to branding projects.
Some of her most notable projects include the Adobe logo “remix competition” with business partner Stefan Sagmeister, branding efforts for the Jewish Museum of New York, as well as creating ads and editorials for Aizone and Levi’s.
She has also written a blog and book about her experiment with fellow designer Tim Goodman, called “40 Days of Dating”, which is about to become a feature film.
The Jewish Museum
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For a business to rapidly grow from an early stage, relying on traditional marketing doesn’t always do the trick. For effective growth and a head start, read about some of the most successful growth hacks that brought new customers to young businesses.
You are in marketing or trying to increase sustainable growth for your startup. So, you read a case study about how a great growth hacking strategy helped a business rake in new users. But chances are, you never really got the whole story.
What does a growth hacker do exactly? Let’s take it step by step and dig into some famous growth hacking stories to help you find a trick up your sleeve.
The definition of growth hacking
Growth hacking is still a relatively new term, coined by entrepreneur Sean Ellis in 2010. Before coming up with this buzzword, he was trying to name a new job position for someone who can help startups accelerate their growth and offer consulting, and defined that person as “someone whose true north is growth”.
For a startup, quick growth is everything. Either you manage to gain revenue and users, or you die out. So, a growth hacker is a person whose job is to find effective, creative and sometimes unconventional solutions to help a startup grow quicker.
Growth hackers can be but are not limited to having a background in marketing. After all, budgets, conversion rates, and expenses aren’t exactly metrics they follow. Think of them more like strategists.
Growth hacks you should know about
If the definition we offer is too abstract, perhaps some real-life examples will help you.
Before the era of startups, you could say that McDonald’s restaurants popping up in strategic spots like highway endings and maze-like plans of malls so you can get lost and end up buying something are growth hacks.
But, in the past decade, many small startups became giants and groundbreakers through growth hacks, especially in the Software as a Service industry.
Here are the most notable growth hacking examples, from Silicon Valley giants to e-commerce industry underdogs.
Dropbox grows for 3900% through a referral program
Before referral marketing was a thing and every marketing strategy had some sort of referral included, Dropbox managed to pull off an almost 4000% growth in only 15 months.
How, you might ask? By offering people something for free if they pay them back a simple favor.
Dropbox has a simple product: offering storage space in their cloud. You can get up to 2 GB of free storage for signing up, and pay for more. The referral growth hack allowed people to get 500 MB for every friend they can get to sign up, and the friend gets the same storage space too. You could get up to 16 GB of storage space. That meant a lot of storage and a lot of new users for the SaaS company.
And the numbers tell more than any word would: in September 2008, before using this tactic, they had 100.000 users. By December the next year, that number grew to four million. Now, the company has more than 1 billion in revenue, and an estimated 14.6 million users as of the first quarter of 2020.
Hotmail loves all of you
Hotmail had a growth hack even before Sean Ellis coined the term. Being one of the first free email providers, starting long before digital marketing was a must, they had a very simple idea that made their sign-ups surge quickly.
At the end of every email, stood the phrase “PS I love you. Get your free email at Hotmail”. It made people look, and they used every one of their users as a vessel for free email marketing. Nowadays, “Sent from my iPhone” and “Shot with Huawei p30 Pro” is a common practice, but then it was groundbreaking.
And a simple cheesy phrase brought them one million users in half a year. About a month later, they doubled those numbers to two million.
Airbnb invades Craigslist
From its beginnings, Airbnb was a business whose co-owners tried all sorts of strategies for customer acquisition, without spending a penny. The reason for that was, well, they were broke. But nonetheless, they found a growth marketing strategy that provided them scalable growth.
After realizing that there’s a shortage of housing in San Francisco, the Airbnb founders would go from tech conference to tech conference, trying to market their service. Then, they decided to improve the quality of the photos of listings on their website.
When this didn’t really do wonders with their customer base, they turned to a growth hacking tool some might say isn’t quite ethical, but it definitely is genius: they used the Craigslist API reverse engineering hack. They allowed AirBnB users to cross-post their listings on Craigslist, hence using a much more popular website at that time to their own gain.
LinkedIn hits the bullseye through indexing
If your key selling point is enabling people to be discovered and market their professional capabilities, it’s only natural to make your user base available to be found. That is how LinkedIn figured a simple thing to help them achieve their best growth possible quickly: they enabled users to create public profiles that search engines can index.
As a social media platform dedicated to helping people find a job, onboarding, and using very specific marketing channels, their marketing team made the right choice with this tactic. Now, every time someone uses Google to look up a potential job candidate, the chances that they’ll land on LinkedIn first are bigger. And they’re doing us all a favor—who wants a recruiter to see their Facebook or Instagram first?
PayPal plays a risky hand… and wins
PayPal’s trick can’t really be found in any growth hacking playbook. Giving people free storage, a month-long trial or marketing on another platform for your own startup growth are all risky growth hacking tools for a new product, but actually giving people money is another thing.
In one of the startup industry’s craziest marketing campaigns, PayPal actually paid people to sign up. For every friend they’d bring onto the platform, both people get $10, which helped them achieve a 10% daily growth and more than 100 million new people in their user base.
Why? Because they knew that the customer lifetime value was much higher than $10, and they decided to invest in their own future.
Doctor of Credit
Dollar Shave Club shows the power of the viral video
This example might not have been thought out by master growth marketers, but a wacky idea that became the definition of viral marketing. Michael Dubin, founder of the company, writer, star and comedic genius, couldn’t really predict the virality of this promo video, but he definitely chose an unconventional path that resulted in a really successful business.
Rarely a promo video includes a toddler wielding a razor, a horribly mismanaged warehouse, and random mascots that don’t really serve a purpose. But, humor is something everyone appreciates, and a razor that comes to your door once a month for a single dollar is another thing it’s hard to skip on.
The Dollar Shave Club growth team knew people were online and recognized the power of the viral video long before others did. The result? They are now the most popular shaving products company, with more users than the age-old Gilette. And the video itself is seen more than 27 million times. Talk about a successful ad!
Tesla makes the customer a star
Tesla is an electric car manufacturer that sells not just a car, but a lifestyle. Being the biggest alternative to fossil fuel-powered cars, they are a strong market disruptor, but apart from that, they also rely on great design and engineering. So, how does this huge company manage to spend next to nothing on traditional marketing? They make their customers marketers. First of all, their products are scarce, expensive and exclusive. People who buy their cars, want to share that on their own social media, and Tesla often re-share those posts. Not only do they market, but they also reassure potential new users with good customer experience.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, often replies to questions about Tesla products on social media.
Lastly, they have an amazing referral program and they reward word-of-mouth and good reviews with credit for a new Tesla car up to a thousand dollars, free accessories and maintenance, and exclusive access to showcase events.
And even since starting out, Tesla has had crazy ways of marketing. Remember that car Musk put on a SpaceX rocket? Yeah, it made sales surge.
Slack defines the product-market fit
Sometimes, you don’t need a genius growth hacking process, great content marketing to improve your SEO or the most beautiful landing pages in the world. Sometimes the secret of success is having a product-market fit, and Slack is the epitome of that.
If you’ve worked in a big company or remote team, you probably realize that communication is key to having a smooth workflow. We’ve all been there: a group chat on Google Hangouts, a video call every day, a chat with the coworkers for non-work related jokes on Messenger. But Slack made it possible to have internal communication inside companies without spamming the others and getting the message across effectively.
Some of the main promises Slack had when they started out were better communication, relief from stress, a decrease in information overload, better organizations and better teams.
Since they launched, Slack slowly increased their customer base and observed how everything functions, and improved their product development based on those findings. They also responded to around 8000 help tickets on Zendesk and tweeted back to 10000 people each month to help improve customer service.
Uber relies on good old word of mouth
Uber grew rapidly by depending on nontraditional ways of marketing, with the help of investor Andrew Chen who led its growth teams. Firstly, they decided on their new markets based on thorough research, and solved all the problems of using a taxi service: easier to pay, easier to find a ride, lowering prices, offering people an easy side-job.
But what they did best was relying on word of mouth to promote their business, and focusing on customer reviews. They even used bad PR and legal battles to gain support from their customer base online.
What’s the best growth hack for your business?
The answer to this question is on you, your marketing or growth team. In order to think of a good growth hacking tool, you need to know your product or service inside-out, understand your customers and their problems you are solving, as well as the marketing channels it’s easiest to reach them at.
We hope that these growth hacking examples helped you get inspired and think of a strategy yourself. If not, you can always rely on traditional ways of marketing: good branding and corporate identity, social media marketing, affiliate marketing and many other tactics.
And if you’re looking to improve your design and branding, look no further than ManyPixels. Check out our risk-free unlimited graphic design offer.... Read more
A great realtor slogan is like a diamond in the rough—difficult to discover, but extremely valuable. Keep reading to find 12 examples of great realtor slogans that will help establish you in the market of connecting customers to a perfect home.... Read more
Typography can be a big part of graphic design, and retro fonts especially carry a strong aesthetic appeal. Here are 20 of them that will fit all of your retro style designs.
From retro logos to letterheads, designs with a nostalgic and vintage vibe are still very popular. If you’re a graphic designer considering adopting a vintage aesthetic for your next design project, or a business owner brainstorming your branding, here are some free retro fonts, as well as ones available for purchase for commercial use, sorted in four categories.
Nothing screams retro as serif fonts do. They are, after all, an old style of typography that made it even in the digital era. Serif fonts are characterized by extra strokes at the ends of the letters’ swashes and improve legibility (as well as looking fabulous!). Here are some of the best vintage-looking ones.
1. Roca (purchase only)
This elegant and timeless font comes in Latin and Cyrillic, as well as two different styles and six weights. You can experiment with different swashes and ligatures. Some specific letters have slanted legs, which also add to the retro-looking vibe. Roca makes a great font for logo design, letterheads, and even body text.
2. It’s a Kind of Magic (free)
What a suitable name for such a cute and playful font! This typeface is inspired by the 70s, the color explosions of the Flower Power movement, as well as the groovy designs that came with that time. It is a layer type font and a reinterpretation of the freehand typography made at that time. It is meant to be a display font but goes well for other uses too.
3. Ephemera Fascia (purchase only)
If what you want out of a retro typeface is a serious throwback to 19th-century building facades and railway signage, we got you. Ephemera Fascia comes in five different styles in all uppercase lettering. It is great to use for headings, logotypes, badges, packaging, etc.
4. Stranger Font Collection (purchase only)
Not a font, not a font family, but a collection of 11 different typefaces. This is definitely worth your money since you can experiment a lot with these American vintage fonts, inspired by old denim labels, jeans ads, the old West and apothecary elements.
5. Black Drama (free)
Black Drama is a tasteful and ornamental antique font duo. It consists of two display serif fonts in two styles. Apart from that, it comes with alternate characters, ligatures and vintage style decorative frames and floral elements.
6. Killarney (purchase only)
Killarney is a bold and heavy serif typeface inspired by vintage letterforms in old ads. It possesses clean lines and sharp edges, juxtaposed with elegant curves and ligatures. It also has a slanted version and is best used for logos, headlines, packaging and label designs.
Sans serif fonts
Sans serif fonts are cleaner and have no additional strokes at the endings of letters. But the lack of additional ornaments doesn’t mean that they can’t be beautiful when used in your vintage designs. Here are some that will spruce up your retro-inspired creations.
7. Bros Rover (free for personal use)
This sans serif font with luxurious ligatures will be a great addition to a logo, heading, packaging design, or a letterhead. The gentle swashes and wide circular movements give it a sense of grace and class, but it’s still compact and more condensed than many typefaces with long ligatures. It also has a noir-like appearance, for extra flair.
8. Market Deco (free)
This Art Deco-inspired vintage font is the epitome of “less is more”—it’s clean, simple and evergreen. If you want simplicity that is also reminiscent of a nostalgic, 18th-century aesthetic or are making an Art Deco logo, this is the font for you.
9. Gin and Soda (free for personal use)
Yet another display typeface on this list, Gin and Soda looks like it should be embossed on the packaging of whiskey. To me, it’s reminiscent of a “Peaky Blinders” aesthetic and definitely gives a strong 1920s vibe.
10. Franks (free)
This sans serif font by designer Philippe Moesch is slender and simple, based on circular shapes and a minimalistic style. Since its look is very light and adaptable, you can experiment with bolder colors and shapes in your design, without oversaturating the overall creation too much.
11. Geomancy (free for personal use)
If you want a bulky and bold typeface that will surely attract attention, Geomancy fits that criteria. Retro, as it seems, is a term hard to define. It can mean “looking like it’s from two centuries ago”, but it can also remind us of the 90s and the ads and packaging of those days. Geomancy, at least to me, resembles the forms of the letters embedded in old rulers we had at school in those good ol’ days.
12. Typo Layer (free)
This geometric font duo is a Bauhaus-inspired blocky type. It’s definitely not the most legible font and even looks a bit abstract, but if you’re looking for a minimal and simplistic vibe, it will definitely suit your needs.
Script fonts have a special flair in them, like calligraphy inscriptions and free-flowing cursive handwriting. They are usually used as secondary fonts, but with the right typeface and measure, you can utilize them for anything you want.
13. The Bayland (purchase only)
If you’re in the business of designing stickers, The Bayland is a lovely, retro script font inspired by the 60s that will give a breath of cool and groovy to your design projects. It comes with different styles and ligatures, as well as otf and ttf format. Apart from sticker design, it’s suitable for t-shirt applications, logos, posters, headings, etc.
14. Lazer 84 (free for personal use)
No, it’s not a poster for a David Hasselhoff film, it’s just the mockup for this brush font. If “retro” means 80s neon lights and graffiti-inspired typography, revamped into the “vaporwave” style in recent years, Lazer 84 will suit your design needs for sure.
15. Rechtman (free)
Finally, in this selection we have Recthman, a hand lettering, calligraphic typeface. It looks like it’s written in ink, and will make a great letterhead or packaging font.
Decorative retro fonts
Retro style fonts are pretty ornamental by themselves, but some possess small details and additional elements that make them very decorative. In the case of using such a typeface, you don’t need too much to impress.
16. Allegory (purchase only)
This beautiful uppercase typeface is inspired by the Art Deco design elements of the early 20th century. It has upright, compressed and wide circular letterforms with rotated counters. It comes in a bold and regular weight, with letters, glyphs and ligatures.
17. Paralines (free)
Paralines is a font that successfully marries the Art Deco-style metal rods, a minimalist industrial style, and a futuristic vibe. As the name suggests, it’s made out of parallel lines with a natural curve and sharp edges.
18. West Side (free)
West Side is a cute, cutout collage-inspired font that can be used for poster design or children’s books. It is block-style and handcrafted, and will definitely offer your design projects a retro feel.
19. Ansley (free)
Ansley is a slab serif retro design font, that has both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and glyphs. It might not be suitable for logo design, but it makes a great heading and letterhead font.
20. Cannes (free for personal use)
Doesn’t Cannes remind us of glitz, glam and elegance? Like it’s namesake, this font is stylish and tasteful—perfect for branding, packaging and many other uses in graphic design.
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What is a lettermark? Emblems? Combination marks? These terms might be too complicated for a logo design rookie. Keep reading to find an explanation and visual example for popular types of logos.
Although it might seem simple, logo design is a discipline based on the study of forms, shapes, colors, composition, geometry, and many other deciding factors. When you see a logo, you probably judge it subjectively and base your opinion on something that makes you remember it for either good or bad reasons.
But in terms of types, logos can be more than good or bad, text or illustrated… There are certain categories defined by different design elements. It’s hard to define all the types of logos, but we’ll do our best to explain the most popular and oft-used categories.
1. Wordmark logos or logotypes
Wordmarks, also known as logotypes, are simple typographic logos that consist of the brand name in full. Think of Coca Cola, Google, Canon, Sony, Disney, FedEx, and many other companies that decided that their brand identity will probably improve if the audience sees the company’s name.
Even though it seems like a simple idea, choosing the correct typography, colors and custom lettering is a job for an experienced designer.
2. Lettermarks or monogram logos
Whereas in wordmarks you see the full name, in lettermarks or monogram logos the designers use initial forms of a company name. Some of the most famous lettermarks are IBM, HBO, NASA, CNN, HP, and others.
This type of logo is at the same time minimalist and more practical than a wordmark if the name of the company is very long (this is also a common issue with government agencies). Imagine International Business Machines or National Aeronautics and Space Administration in full as a logo. Not exactly tight, and long names definitely don’t improve brand recognition.
3. Abstract logos
Abstract logos use shapes and forms in a non-literal way. For example, the Adidas logo has three stripes, but they abstractly look like a mountain—a height yet to conquer, suitable for a sportswear brand. Their rival company, Nike, also has the Nike Swoosh, a checkmark accompanying their iconic slogan, “Just do It”.
Another example is the Pepsi logo, that’s reminiscent of a bubble (it’s a fizzy drink after all), but in the colors of the US flag, which helps them relay the message that part of their brand identity is the patriotic value.
Abstract logos are great to form your own visual language and meaning, instead of using what’s culturally relevant as a base. It takes more than just aesthetics, but research and ingenuity too to create a good abstract logo.
4. Pictorial marks
Pictorial marks (sometimes wrongly named brand marks, which are a different thing) are icons or graphic symbols that signify the brand image or story in a visual way. Like Twitter’s blue bird, or Apple’s iconic biblical fruit with a single bite. A recent example of a logo symbol is AirBnB’s ‘belo’, a combination of icons that signify people, places, love and "A" for AirBnB.
Unlike abstract logos, pictorial marks are more straightforward and simple to understand, and often represent common objects.
Letterforms are even more toned-down, geometrical and minimalist versions of monograms. They are usually the first letter of the brand name, designed in a specific way according to the brand image. Famous examples of a letterform include McDonald’s, Netflix, WordPress, and other logos.
Letterform brand marks are commonly mistaken to be logos. For example, the “Y” with an exclamation mark, that is Yahoo’s brand mark. The original logo, however, is the business name as a wordmark. Similarly, the other brands we mentioned above also have a wordmark, or combination mark as the official logo too.
6. Combination marks
When a logo uses both a typographic wordmark and graphic symbol, icon, or image, that is a combination mark. By putting together typography and imagery, companies often experiment and have more than one version of their logo for official use. Famous combination logos include the Mastercard, Lacoste, Burger King, Doritos, Chanel, and many other logos.
It’s not uncommon to see different design elements of these logos separately, but the official logos are usually the combination marks themselves.
Mascots aren’t a thing only with sports teams! In fact, some of the most recognizable brands around the world use (or have used at some point) a mascot, a character that’s a face to their brand.
Even though it’s not the most modern type of logo, mascot logos are still often used in the food industry, like KFC’s Colonel Sanders, Planter’s Mister Peanut, or Tony the Tiger for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. Apart from that industry, the Michelin Man also stands strong in the tire business.
8. Emblem logos
As far as logo design goes, emblem logos might be the oldest type of logos. They are characterized by the brand name put inside a frame or shape. They do seem a little retro and not exactly versatile, but some brands still use them, and to great success. The Starbucks mermaid, Harley Davidson rock n’ roll typography inside an army-badge shaped frame, and Warner Brothers’ monogram inside a custom shape are famous examples.
Hopefully, this guide helped you understand the characteristics of different types of logo designs. Since the logo is the first step towards building strong branding and no marketing materials go without it, we suggest you invest time in research and the best design possible. From your business card to your social media graphics, it’s going to be everywhere.
Luckily, our designers at ManyPixels can help you. For a flat rate, you get unlimited revisions and great-quality graphic design. You can learn more here. Good luck with your logo!... Read more