Design in 2017 – what will branding look like?

As part of our series on the future of design in 2017, Brand Union executive creative director Paul Cardwell looks at what will happen in branding over the next 12 months.


What do you think 2017 will hold for branding?

So, what does 2017 have in store? Well, branding doesn’t happen in isolation; it reflects the world it occupies. And the world has never looked more uncertain and difficult to foresee.

The most powerful man on the planet is an unknown quantity but has already shown himself to be volatile and unpredictable. Where will Europe be in 12 months time, if it still exists at all? Whither Britain?

When people are unsure about the future they look back to the reassuring solidity of more certain times. They want to recreate a world that was. They want to pull up the drawbridge and insulate themselves from the maelstrom of change. Local will replace global. And we will see more retro style.

What was your favourite branding project in 2016?


What is the difference between a professional and an amateur review? Well, the amateur version is worth something because the customers actually go and buy stuff.

So my choice this year is a brand that actually sold me the product. I don’t have to tell you what a beautiful job the Co-op rebrand is. I liked it so much that I went in search of a store. It lived up to the promise and I now walk past Waitrose to shop at the Old Street Co-op store.

The great philosopher Groucho Marx had a fine definition of the difference between amateurs and professionals. To make an audience of amateurs laugh, he said, all you had to do was dress a fit young stuntman up as a frail old lady in a wheelchair. Then release the chair down a steep hill into the side of a moving train.

People – nice ordinary people with mortgages and children – would howl with laughter. But to make professionals laugh, you would have to use a real old lady.

The Co-op is the real thing. The store ambiance, the own-label packaging, the range and quality of products will all come as a pleasant surprise to amateurs and professionals alike. Congratulations to them and to everyone at North.

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  • Richard Gooch January 6, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Our local Co-op used to be something of an embarrassment, shabby interior, dubious product and tired exterior. Now transformed with that retro-rebrand, product range improved and staff look happier too. Our spend has certainly increased.

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