The power of nostalgia in design and why it doesn’t work for everyone

We outlined nostalgia as one of the 2017 design trends for the year but it hasn’t always a respected term in the design world. Over the last five years though, we have consistently seen corporations revert back to their retro logos in hopes of tapping into consumer’s memories in order to increase sales of their products. Jessica Helfand describes on Design Observer, “nostalgia privileges memory and perception over reality, and favors a utopian and imagined past over the real one. Indeed, it can provoke positive emotions of happiness, connection, confidence, and optimism, and when people feel down, it can also raise their spirits.” Let’s take a look at why some brands are attempting to revive their branding history.

Logo, Branding, Graphic Design

Kodak: Logo Evolution

Branding, Graphic Design, Nostalgia

Kodak brings back the 1971 version of their logo in this 2017 redesign.


When does nostalgia work in design? When does it not?

For starters, a company must have a long-standing history in the public eye in order to engage us through our emotions, sparking memories of when we were younger. Reliving positive experiences and beloved moments from the past feels good. Brands that found popularity in the 80’s and 90’s have recently found success because their customer demographic has now become the consumer demographic. Think about the following products: the NES Classic console, Pokemon Go app, and choker necklaces and high waisted jeans that are making their way back into fashion. It does not seem that any of these products will have staying power but boy, did someone tap into a “Get rich, quick!” scheme as millennials flock out to purchase them.

Branding works the same way. Bringing back the “old” in their logo, allows an instantaneous connection to be created with the consumer. In the Kodak example above, they have streamlined the 1971 version of the logo for a vintage redesign, tying in the longevity of the brand. It allows the company to cross generations and reminds us of that Christmas morning we opened our first camera. And it seems to be a technique we’re not willing to let go of yet, as its been utilized by Tide, Old Spice, Mastercard, Coca-Cola and KFC, just to name a few.

Related Posts
Book of the Month, Graphic Design, Website DesignWeb Design, Design Awards