Dieline's Top 10 Brand Redesigns Of 2021
by Rudy Sanchez on 12/22/2021 | 6 Minute Read
The past twelve months have been a bumper crop year for brand redesigns. Facebook’s rebrand into Meta attracted much attention and discussion; most of it centered on its strategic realignment, less so about the droopy-Mobius-strip logo.
The top ten refreshes of the year weren’t so dramatic, but in some cases, were replacing decades-long branding, often opting for a flat design. While it might be easy to dismiss flanding—or flat branding—as a tired fad, some of the best refreshes of the year demonstrate that flat design still hasn’t reached its bottom.
One thing 2021’s top ten brand refreshes have in common is boldness. There are no pastels to be found in this bunch. Brands used striking color palettes, typography, and graphics to mark their respective categories with their brand freshes. Of course, packaging for all the top ten brand refreshes is exceptional. In some cases, the change is a significant move away from a signature and long-standing identity that maintains and communicates the brand’s values and character.
Social media continued to play a role in branding, with the tail sometimes wagging the dog and brands thirsty for attention jumping on to memes. Usually, the person that starts an internet meme gets little more than internet points and 15 minutes, but in one case, that person got a bag thanks to their viral posts.
Here are the top ten brand refreshes for 2021.
10. Rockstar, PepsiCo Design & Innovation
The PepsiCo Design & Innovation team ditched the yellow for a more flamboyant metallic gold to go with black—which happens to be the same colors as the Vegas NHL Golden Knights—and the star becomes the drink's visual Polaris, integrated across sub-brands like Juiced and Boom. Even the new wordmark incorporates a star and is now slimmer and more energetic than the previous one. The back-to-back capital Rs remain and get implemented across the entire brand.
09. Planters Peanuts, JKR
In 2020, the brand planned an audacious advertising campaign that started with the centenarian Mr. Peanut sacrificing his life to save others, then plenty of paid promotion across all media, leading to a funeral for the mascot during a Super Bowl ad with him getting reborn as a baby peanut. Planter’s death of a sales-nut campaign was abruptly derailed in early 2020, however, when tweets from celebrities reacting to Mr. Peanut’s stunt death began showing up alongside reactions to the actual tragic and real-life death of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others when they died suddenly in a helicopter crash.
This year, Planters is taking a different but still bold approach to its latest brand refresh, working with the talented folks at Jones Knowles Ritchie.
08. Skyy, Established
Founded in 1992 and a part of Campari Group’s portfolio of brands since 2009, SKYY is nearly 30 years old, and like those young, hip clubgoers of the 90s, the brand has matured. When SKYY first launched, it was a bold and innovative American premium vodka. But the product has grown into a successful and globally recognized spirit, and sensing a need for a makeover, enlisted the services of agency Established to give the spirits brand a new visual identity more in line with the brand’s current persona and the contemporary vodka consumer.
07. Absolut, Brand Union Stockholm, Destrito, Ardagh
Led by studio Brand Union Stockholm with assistance from agency Destrito and glassmaker Ardagh, Absolut retained the apothecary-inspired shape while adding new features like “MADE IN SWEDEN” embossed in the bottle. To protect the embossing as bottles travel down manufacturing lines, they incorporated a subtle curve around the text. Absolut also added a paper label, a first, and refined the typography for better legibility. The new label specifies Absolut’s hometown of Åhus, Sweden, and the medallion on the neck gets redesigned to include Lars Olsson Smith’s name, tying Absolut’s heritage and history to its founder and spirits innovator.
06. Ocado, JKR
Gone is the green that has come to dominate the marketplace and in its place is a luscious grape color. The familiar swirl logo also got retooled, making it more legible in static and animated forms. The deep purple can serve as the primary or complementary color in use. The violet color also stands out when applied to Ocado’s fleet of delivery vehicles. While the Prince palette dominates the identity, other vibrant colors and geometric patterns representing food round out the packaging.
05. Oikos, Beardwood&Co., Danone North America Brand Design
Feeding consumers through their eyeholes, Oikos' new Blended Greek Yogurt packaging comes from Danone North America Brand Design and agency Beardwood&Co., with lush, whole, and juicy fruit, or in the case of vanilla, a bright flower, front and center. Ingredients boldly stand out amid a backdrop of creamy, wavy yogurt. The brandmark comes set in a strong sans with softer secondary typography that balances the bolder elements of the packaging. Outer packaging follows suit, as do the larger quarts.
04. Miller Genuine Draft, BrandOpus
While it looks like they completely stripped away the predominant gold of the beer, you’ll now find it outlining the eagle’s wings and replaced it with a solid black. The red spotlight from the seal now clearly puts the spotlight on the AMERICA bird, literally, in an attempt to build a more iconic mascot.
03. Gevalia, BrandOpus
To reinvigorate the coffee brand, Kraft Heinz turned to creative agency BrandOpus for a top-to-bottom rebrand. While they kept the traditional yellow of the packaging, much of the visual identity has changed. It’s not as drastic as J.J. Abrams remaking iconic Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, but it’s definitely a controlled burn.
02. Baskin-Robbins, JKR
Baskin-Robbins’ branding and visual identity play with elements commonly associated with ice cream-related brands, but it was time for the bright and childlike blue and pink wordmark to finally get refreshed. Of course, Debbie Millman of the podcast Design Matters and her 0/10 rating of the logo might have also given them an extra push.
01. Burger King, JKR
At first glance, the new look for Burger King seems familiar. They definitely pulled inspiration from the 1969-1998 design, but Rapha Abreu, vice president and global head of design at RBI, insists they weren’t going for retro. We’ve seen a lot of brands rely on the nostalgia and comfort of the past (especially during the pandemic), but this redesign was in the making long before COVID-19.
—Theresa Christine Johnson
...Honorable Mention. Emily Zugay Logos
Ms. Zugay’s “redesigns” are as much a scathing critique of a particular logo as they are on how logos and brand designs are created and discussed. In her Toks—I’m told that’s what the kids call TikTok posts—Emily presents her redesigns in a monotone and expressionless manner similar to the ennui of a tortured artist, and her apathetic performance is reminiscent of MTV’s Daria, Bob’s Burger’s Tina Belcher, and April Ludgate from Parks and Recreation.