Trends of 2023: The year in branding

This year, designers sought to bring warmth to tech brands and evolve sexual wellness tropes, all while reckoning with questions around legacy and originality

It’s been a big year for rebrands, but perhaps more than that, it was a big year for design discourse. So let’s begin with where much of that took place: social media.

Most of the leading social media companies unveiled rebrands and refreshes in 2023. At the eye of the storm was Twitter’s rebrand as X, part of Elon Musk’s X-themed empire that includes aerospace company SpaceX;, which was folded into what became PayPal at the turn of the millennium; and artificial intelligence startup xAI, founded this year. As sweeping changes were made to the name, logo, and UI, it revealed just how much of a connection people had with that little blue bird over the years. Twitter had become a brand that many people loved to hate; X represents a brand that many people simply hate.

Seemingly in response to the turmoil over at Twitter/X HQ (the brand name, and the verb ‘to tweet’, have been harder to shake off than Musk might have thought), Meta launched Threads – a platform that was pitched as an exciting new rival, but for many people has already faded from memory. The brand and design teams at Meta were clearly busy this year, with two more of its products – Facebook and WhatsApp – tweaking their visual identity systems in 2023. Over in slightly calmer waters, forum website Reddit launched an updated identity that transformed its familiar alien-like icon into a 3D mascot.

Top: Identity for Sex Brand, a company co-created by Jack Gove, Tom Salvat and Uncommon Creative Studio; Above: DixonBaxi led streaming platform HBO Max’s rebrand to Max