Monotype trend report shows brands banking on nostalgic, handcrafted and big type

Deep analysis of how typography has been deployed in rebrands and campaigns over the past year has yielded interesting findings in the mega foundry’s report.

13 April 2021


Type foundry Monotype has published its annual Type Trends Report, analysing how typography has been used by brands and creative agencies over the past year to deduce common themes across culture. There are 11 themes outlined in the full report, the leading ones spotting a general veer away from “over-tidiness” and perfection in favour of handcrafted humanism. At the other end of the scale, however, there is wider investment in using tech innovations to bring type into VR and AR, and motion design.

Brands are apparently “turning away” from the uniformity of geometric sans serifs in favour of calligraphic impressions and more “organic” traits, says the report. Companies such as vertical farming brand Wilder Fields and CBD brand Hanayu have opted for typography that signals more human, warm and “touchable” letterforms. “The hand-made mark of the maker has seen a celebrated resurgence,” says One Design Company’s David Sieren, which worked on the Wilder Fields visual identity. “Illustration and lettering – standing on the shoulders of wide-spread renewed interest in analog techniques from letterpress to photography and beyond – has been creeping its way higher and higher into the cultural mainstream for some time”. He adds that the past year of isolation and Zoom meetings has meant “we’re all desperately craving personality, character and warmth”.


EIGA: Hanayu identity (Copyright © Hanayu, 2021)

Nostalgia and handcrafted forms are also popular, signalled by the Burger King and Hello Fresh rebrands and Gucci’s handwritten signage, the report continues. According to Monotype’s analysis, brands are using informality, imperfection and vibrant colour schemes to forge a “more natural and meaningful connection with consumers.”

Many projects have also seen typography supersized, with brands like Twitch, ACMI, Nike + HORT and The Dieline going for big, bold, brash type. Monotype says this device is used to give visual identities a maximal presence with a “tech minimalist feel that’s retro but not sentimental”.

The foundry has also spotted a common thread of punk aesthetics yet with austerity, simplifying brands down to being what they describe as “under-designed and confident about it” – apparently used everywhere from pizza to publishing and high-end fashion logos.

Meanwhile tech is also playing a huge part in the development of type design. A huge number of brands are incorporating motion design and animation to their brand typography, and Monotype notes that Studio Dumbar and the Barcelona Jazz Festival branding by Summa are among those “pushing boundaries” in this field.

With innovation allowing type to become more dynamic and interactive, companies such as WPP Amsteldok, Pokémon Go, Type in Space, and the Design in Motion Festival have used type to great effect in immersive experiences via VR, AR and physical installation projects.

“Brands and agencies are utilising type with renewed confidence and curiosity,” summarises Monotype creative type director Phil Garnham, “while the creative minds developing and designing type are exploring ways to reinvent something old to innovate and twist it up into something new.”

Find out more about the type used in all the projects mentioned, and download the full report here.


Summa: Barcelona Jazz Festival identity (Copyright © Barcelona Jazz Festival, 2021)


Yoon Park: Type in Space (Copyright © Yoon Park, 2021)


Dn&co: Museum of the Home identity (Copyright © Museum of the Home, 2019)


Paula Scher / Pentagram: Mental Health Coalition identity (Copyright © Mental Health Coalition, 2020)


North: ACMI identity (Copyright © ACMI, 2021)

Hero Header

Burger King and JKR NY: Burger King rebrand (Copyright © Burger King, 2021)

Share Article

About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.