“Do you remember in 2018 there was that tweet where someone put together an image of all the fashion brands that had abandoned their historical typeface?” asks Tom Foley, creative type director at Monotype. “I think that was the pinnacle of the sans-serif thing and everything started to change after that.”
Straight and narrow sans-serif designs have continued to find favour in spaces like the automotive industry, though brands in other sectors have been embracing softer letter shapes of late. “It feels like everybody’s just been making this concerted effort to put curves back into letters,” says fellow Monotype creative type director Phil Garnham.
Brands have been opting for wordmarks in chunky shapes but with softer, chewier edges, often underscored by nostalgia and creating an air of relatibility. We’ve seen it in everything from food brands (see updates at Burger King, Mob Kitchen and Plenty, by JKR, Studio Nari and &Walsh respectively) to cybersecurity, chewing gum and healthcare. The overall shape of wordmarks reflected this trend, with swoops and bends proving popular from jobs boards to youth programmes.
Even comparatively blocky, sturdy designs have showed some soft touches, as seen in Pentagram’s identity for brewery 2Dads, fashion designer Sinéad O’Dwyer’s shapely, cutout lettering, and another Studio Nari identity, for furniture maker Modular by Mensah, which features bold yet rounded letterforms. “It’s created in this really structured, modular, alphabetical way,” Garnham says, “but then even that started integrating this wobbliness within the letters.”