6 graphic design trends to avoid in 2023


Written by

Martin Sully

graphic design trends 2023 written in a circle on a blue and purple background

How can 6 design trends kill your small business?

2023 is knock, knock, knocking on your door, with all the jingling of Santa's bells.  

Last year, I put together a frankly, tongue-firmly-pressed-into-the-side-of-cheek blog post about the 12 graphic design trends to avoid and why. And on reflection, it feels like all the designers read it and collectively decided that I was right. Quick write the date in your diary!

It tuerned out brands didn't want to drop their eco look. Charming line drawings made way for detailed, colourful illustrations, and people went nuts for custom typefaces!

Following trends is one of the quickest ways to be forgotten and missed entirely, when someone with big fat pockets jingling with cash splurges a tonne of money and your business goes down the plughole faster than a diamond from your wedding ring.

As reflected by other blog posts on 2023 trends, a year is a long time. And in no way can picking out trends, highlight the importance of understanding a brand's mission or what will excite the right customers.

Brands need to look deeper. Scratching the surface on a purely visual trend is not enough.

Without further ado, here's my trends to avoid in 2023

1) Piggyback branding

Piggyback branding is a new term I'm coining (don't fact-check that).

With the influx of co-branding opportunities, like RU Ok? day, there's an emphasis on sharing your involvement. Being seen to be not involved can be damaging. But without trying to be a dick, making it work for your brand can be tricky. 

So consider if it fits your brand's vision and the perception you're trying to create.

2) Rich 'Sovereign' colour palettes

2022 was a pretty monumental year for a particular Royal Family. And with a Coronation due to happen in 2023, you'll no doubt see an on-trend set of colour palettes with rich purples, goldy-yellows and royal blues.

Work on your own colour palettes that fit your brand's story.

3) Sans-serif fonts

These are still out. If you're making a statement, trying to stand out, then I'm gonna reach for my sketchbook and pens and create a custom typeface that fits your brand.

If you've never tried it, do it. Custom fonts for your brand are a great way to open up a world of expression and create something no one else can. 

This is how I expect brands to set themselves apart this year.

4) Metaverse-inspired designs

This one might come back to bite me in the butt. 

We can all see it coming. Just be careful when looking at the Metaverse to inspire your designs. There's a fair bit of negative press associated with it currently, and reflecting it in designs too early can have a similar impact on your brand.

5) Mischievous mascots

Put the elf back on the shelf. This one's making a reappearance from last year.

I might explode if I see one more vintage-style illustration of a mascot on a surfboard or a face drawn on an orange. 

This was a massive trend in 2022, so many brands adopted this approach, leaving little space for brands to join in. 

I can see us moving back towards more complex illustrations and patterns, blending that all with photography and type. Watch this space!

6) Generic off-the-shelf logos/brands

Just stop! I mentioned Canva last year, yet small businesses popped up everywhere, trying to 'cut through the noise' with a brand that just fell face-first off Canva like a 3-year-old falls off a swing.

Canva's a great tool but investing in a brand that's been professionally designed and backs you up with a set of brand guidelines is an absolute must-do.

Moving your business forward in 2023

As with all opinion pieces, take this with a pinch of salt. I'd rather you solidify your brand's foundations – your purpose for being in business and clarifying your vision – than panic if you're on trend. 

In summary, it's best to avoid trends and concentrate efforts on creating a timeless visual identity that gives you a platform for creativity. Working with a graphic designer who understands your business and customers' needs/wants can help future-proof your brand.


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