At Vectornator, there’s nothing we love more than spotting the biggest trends that are defining the design world at any given moment. In 2023, as technology advances and continues to influence all industries, including the design sphere, we’re seeing a slew of designers using exciting new tech to bring the future of design into the present day. Fascinatingly, this is coinciding with an increasing trend to return to simpler styles, like retro designs or creations with more natural elements.

We’ll break down all of these influences and give you the lowdown on the current trends in the design world, so you can make sure your visual branding identity stays modern and fresh.

Before we get into this year’s design trends, here’s an important tip: don’t let any trending design style dictate your own personal design or branding goals. Ultimately, your design assets should reflect the unique and authentic personality of your brand, which is more important and long-lasting than any design trend.

However, playing around with up-and-coming styles in some of your design assets can be a great way to discover new ways to express your brand authentically. It can also help you breathe new life into your branding styles, which should strike a balance between staying true to your brand identity and maintaining a modern feel as time goes on: don’t be afraid to experiment and update your look.

Trying out new trends is also a good way to catch your audience’s eye and draw in a customer base who are looking to support the freshest, most cutting-edge brands. Remember, visual design is a crucial communicator, so pay attention to what your design choices are saying about your brand.

With all that said, let’s dive into the biggest design trends we’re seeing in 2023 and get you up to speed on the hottest styles of the moment.

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1. Go bold or go home

As ever, typography remains a crucial element for designers to play around with. Your font choices speak volumes about your brand image and should reflect the voice of your company. This year, we’re seeing lots of brands experiment with bold fonts for logos and design assets with written elements. Using heavy fonts is a way to draw attention to your message and increase the visual impact of your creative assets. Switching to a bold font doesn’t have to mean compromising on your existing brand style, mind you. Combine it with more structured typography for an authoritative tone, or keep things playful by incorporating bright colors and lighthearted copy with your bold typography. You can also pair heavy fonts with kinetic typography, bold backgrounds, or complex gradients to give your design an even bigger oomph.

Take a look at this series of ads from cereal company Off Limits, who use bold fonts, often over a plain white background, to amplify their fun message. The muted color palettes translate well onto any medium, from physical ads to social posts, and let the heavy fonts do the work to keep these visuals stuck in your head.

Source: Pentagram

2. Sustainable design

In 2023, it’s more apparent than ever that every industry needs to be prioritizing sustainability. For designers, this starts with easy creative design choices like using sustainable packaging materials in your product design — aim for the most minimal packaging options and choose recycled or compostable materials wherever possible. But you can incorporate sustainability into your graphic design choices, too. Consider the environmental impact your physical designs will have, including their raw materials, energy usage, manufacturing process, and eventual disposal.

An eco-conscious style often goes hand-in-hand with minimalist design elements, like neutral colors, simple backgrounds, and muted color palettes. And remember that customers value transparency when it comes to your business’s sustainability practices, so integrating these into your visual content and digital designs is a big plus.

See the example below for how a clean design with muted colors and a simple background can enhance a sustainable approach.

Seamless loungewear set with pricing details.
Source: Organic Basics

3. AR & VR

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have been hot-button topics for a few years, but in 2023 they’re becoming more mainstream than ever. Designers are exploring new ways to incorporate AR and VR into their work, from interactive experiences to product visualization. As technology advances, customers are getting used to more captivating, immersive experiences, and brands that can deliver augmented experiences will have a huge leg up on their competitors. While you might have thought this futuristic design trend is reserved for tech giants like Google and Facebook, it’s not only tech brands diving into the virtual world. Luxury brand Gucci has created immersive websites like the Guilty Diner to help customers pick out their preferred fragrance from the comfort of their homes — plus, they can take a break to play games, look around the store, and watch sleek campaign videos. This sort of website showcases the importance of UX-forward design in AR and VR experiences -- don't forget to take into account factors like different screen sizes and high-definition screens to make sure your visual content translates across all devices.

IKEA has also been pioneering the AR field with its Place app, which enhances customers' online shopping experience by allowing them to ‘try out’ products in their own homes.

Hand holding a smartphone with an augmented reality app showing a chair in an empty space.
Source: IKEA

4. The rise and rise of AI

While we’re on the topic of cutting-edge technology, let’s look at the ways Artificial Intelligence (AI) is turning the design world on its head. AI tech companies are finding ways to incorporate machine learning technology into all sorts of industries, with the aim of making processes far more efficient and accurate. For designers, this might mean using AI services to predict upcoming trends or making use of AI-powered design tools to automate tedious tasks.

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There's also the exciting world of AI-generated art to explore, which can help you come up with all types of illustrations and authentic images, and at the very least will supply endless relevant ideas for inspiration.

So while we’re not worried about AI replacing artists any time soon, we know that this tech can help creatives work smarter and faster. To play around with this trend yourself, check out our picks for the best AI art generators on the market today.

Check out Heinz's tongue-in-cheek ad campaign which makes use of the AI art generator Dall-E 2, which created eerily authentic images of ketchup, and in the process proved Heinz's dominance in the market.

A collection of AI-generated ketchup bottle designs, each with unique, quirky features.
Source: Adweek

5. Long live punk

Perhaps in response to all this futuristic design tech on the horizon, we’re seeing a rise in retro design styles, especially a grungy punk revival aesthetic. With its air of rebellion, bold colors, and trendy DIY features, the punk aesthetic can re-energize your brand image and help you stand out from the crowd. This edgy style would be super effective for any brand looking to attract a younger, progressive audience, but could also appeal to the 70s nostalgia of older crowds. Aim for the unpolished aesthetic of a handmade zine and use messy (but still legible) serif fonts, neon bright colors, abstract graphics, geometric shapes, and collage imagery.

The packaging below showcases the modern grunge aesthetic we're talking about here, with flat colors on a black background drawing the eye to the array of fonts, authentic images, and daring designs.

A punk-style beer can label for "The Mutants" by Boomtown Brewery with graphic and text elements.
Source: J Collins
Three beer cans with graphic design on a pink background.
Source: J Collins

6. It's only natural

In what could be another counter-movement against the digitalization of the design world, we're noticing a return to a clean, natural aesthetic in some modern branding approaches. Expect to see a focus on natural textures, materials, and color trends. Designers are turning to nature for inspiration and coming up with beautiful designs using earthy, muted colors and organic shapes for a calming aesthetic. This trend goes hand in hand with the increasing focus on sustainability we touched on above, and companies who are looking to highlight their eco-credentials as a cornerstone of their brand can benefit from this paired-back, natural look.

Take a look at the Whole Foods graphic below to see how you can incorporate organic shapes and charming hand-drawn illustrations against a simple background for an air of natural authenticity in your work.

Logos of "Whole Foods Rewards" shaped as an apple and a parsley leaf.
Source: Whole Foods Market

7. Hand-drawn illustrations

Speaking of hand-drawn illustrations... Nothing says unique like an expertly crafted drawing designed just for your brand. You can use this technique to add a personal touch to your designs and inject a sense of authenticity into your branding assets. Hand-drawn illustrations can be used in a variety of design applications, from product packaging to video content, and can include all types of illustrations, like cartoon drawings and abstract illustrations. You can also play around with handwritten fonts to add a personal touch to your copy, which is just as much visual content as it is a literal message. Try incorporating abstract shapes to draw the eye toward your design elements. Before you start scribbling, read about the different illustration styles you can experiment with, and learn how to avoid common illustration mistakes.

Take a look at Chipotle’s in-store packaging to see how hand-drawn illustrations with abstract patterns and handwritten fonts can bring a touch of charm to businesses of any size. We love the authentic images they use and the handwritten fonts coupled with a simple background.

Alt text: Paper bags with illustrations and text related to chipotle, salsa, and pinto beans.
Source: Chipotle

8. Flat design

While 3D elements will always be in style, flat design is a sleek and fun trend that's making the rounds in 2023. Experiment with flat icons against a white background for a paired-back yet playful feel. To keep your design cohesive, try opting for flat colors and simple gradients. This emphasis on minimalist design will enhance the beautiful simplicity of your design.

Lots of major brands have played around with flat design when updating their logos in recent years, making use of elegant, geometric shapes in conjunction with new, colorful icons. We saw this first amongst many trendsetting tech giants: just think of Instagram's transition from the complex, old-school Polaroid icon to their current flat icon with its brighter colors and abstract gradients.

The choice is yours when it comes to the style of your flat design, as all types of illustrations can work here: from bold color transitions to complex gradients, or black-and-white color schemes to brighter colors.

Oreo cookie advertisement with "Wonder with Oreo" slogan and a website link.
Source: Pinterest
Oreo cookie on a colorful patterned background with "Discover with Oreo" slogan.
Source: Pinterest

9. Back to the future

In 2023, we are seeing an influx of futuristic designs that draw inspiration from exciting advancements in science and tech that we touched on above. Designers are using futuristic patterns that draw on areas ranging from space exploration to robotics, creating truly unique designs in the process. From sci-fi illustrations and muted colors to abstract shapes and skewed angles, these bold designs will make any project stand out from the crowd, from video content to social posts.

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These designs often feature a lot of negative space, giving them a clean, modern feel and allowing them to focus on the eye-catching visual content. They also frequently make use of complex gradients and splashes of bold color to give the pieces an otherworldly feel. Futuristic designs are perfect for tech companies or anyone looking to give their brand a modern, innovative feel.

Insurance firm Policygenius went one step further with this trend, using a retro-futuristic style to turn our idealization of tomorrow's tech on its head. Their subway ads make use of a bold font against a background of abstract gradients to complement their humorous illustration.

Subway ad for insurance with a hand holding a smartphone.
Source: Policygenius

10. Pretty in pastel

The final trend we’re highlighting has been a mainstay for a few years, but its popularity is by no means dwindling in 2023. Pastel color trends are a hallmark of modern, youthful brands for their aesthetically pleasing style and their popularity in social media posts. Blend candy-color hues with simple gradients for an on-trend look that will amp your online presence. This style communicates a vibrant yet laid-back brand image that's sleek and aspirational: trust us, this combination is the key to success for social media-based marketing amongst millennial audiences. Curate your social posts and boost online performance by opting for warm colors and soft color transitions. This trend is highly versatile, and you can adapt it to fit all of your brand's marketing assets including your website, blog posts, and video content.

Body polish product by Herbivore, Coco Rose.
Source: Pinterest
Herbivore skincare products, Rose Hibiscus face mist and Coco Rose body polish.
Source: Herbivore Botanicals

Round up

Now you’ve got an idea of this year’s hottest graphic design trends, it’s your turn to start experimenting to see what new design styles will elevate your brand. Have a read of our insights into the most exciting brand design trends of 2023 for some more inspiration, and take a look at Linearity Curve’s Academy to start creating your own trending design assets in no time.

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The 10 big design trends taking 2023 by storm | Linearity
The 10 big design trends taking 2023 by storm