Modern Nostalgia by Design

Monday, April 22nd, 2024

Modern Nostalgia by Design

Did you know that modern nostalgia has become a graphic design trend for the second year in a row? With its blend of old and new, it captures the joy of days gone by while enabling people to stay tethered to reality. In other words, it’s a win-win situation for many people!

How to Be Successful at Modern Nostalgic Design

If you want your marketing campaign to pop off using a modern nostalgic design, there are a few things you’ll want to consider. 

1. Pick an Impactful Era

Which era appeals to your target audience the most? Famous pop stars aren’t the only ones known for eras – we all love a good era every now and then.

Choose an era that will resonate with the age of your target market. Don’t forget, though: wearing vintage clothing has become popular in 2023, so your retro design may resonate with Y2K and Regencycore 20-somethings, too!

2. Make it Relevant and Modern

The last thing you want to do is to be so purist in your design choices that you re-enact the dial-up sound while your web pages wait to load. You might think it’s clever, but they won’t think it’s cute that they have to wait 4 to 5 seconds for the sound to finish before accessing your retro website.

(Likewise, don’t think a dummy “Adobe Flash Player” installation message will impress them. Frankly, we’re glad those days are behind us.)

Bottom line: Think speed and functionality in cool, old-school packaging.

3. Tie it into Your Brand Values

Values tend to shift over time, and the last thing you want to do is unintentionally reinforce values you don’t believe in with your campaign. Nostalgic design that echoes your brand’s values has more potential than design that has no meaning to it.

4. Avoid Coming Across as Insensitive

Not every gender and race experienced history the same way, so an advertisement that evokes nostalgia in one person can have an adverse effect on another. It’s important to consider how your design or marketing campaign will be received by all. Creating a more inclusive design will ensure your loyal customers aren’t turned off.

5. Choose the Right Elements

To do it right, you’ll need to research the era you’re targeting and pick the right typography, color palette, textures, etc. Of course, you’ll still want to ensure the design looks fresh!

Where to Find Inspiration for Modern Nostalgia

There are several places you can look for inspiration when it comes to modern nostalgia. Most designs that capture modern nostalgia, however, blend retro/vintage design and modern elements. (That said, it’s not limited to only retro/vintage design. It can also include Y2K elements. As long as it’s a throwback mixed with something fresh, anything goes!)

Example #1: Throwback Fonts

Mehmet Reha Tuğcu is a brilliant typeface designer based in Turkey who shares his creations on Bēhance. His fonts transport you to specific times and places, both real and imagined. We found his work through this article on throwback designs.

Example #2: Y2K Fun

Shopify’s design for Linkpop (at least for a while) was Y2K inspired, full of fun colors and Y2K elements that take you back to the days shortly after we thought the world would end. (Nothing puts a pep in your step like being spared an apocalyptic, world-ending event!)

Example #3: Vintage Spoofs

This hilarious design by Dingbat Co. makes you think of the days of the Walkman while simultaneously poking fun at them, weaving modern (“fire”) elements into an old-school design using a Reese’s Pieces color palette. It’s just one of many designs that were also featured in this graphic design article.

Should A Logo or Brand Be Nostalgic?

In our previous article on nostalgia, we talked about some of the pitfalls of using nostalgic design. The era you are referencing may not be nostalgic for everyone in your target audience, and you can risk alienating your audience by using it.

For that reason, it’s probably best to dip your toes into nostalgic design over time. If you jump too quickly into branding with modern nostalgia in mind (or revamping your logo), it’ll be super obvious if you need to pivot because your audience doesn’t respond well. 

By taking your time to see how your audience responds to other modern nostalgia design attempts, you’ll be able to choose wisely whether you decide to move forward or hold off on rebranding your logo (or whole brand) with modern nostalgia in mind. 

How to Avoid Copyright Issues

Did you know that no matter how much you change an image, you can still be hit with copyright infringement? It’s not true that you can change 30% of an image to be spared from a lawsuit! For this reason, always create your own modern nostalgia designs, even if it means using similar palettes or styles.

If you do wish to use an image that doesn’t belong to you, you must get permission from the copyright holder or use public domain/fair use works. You can also use royalty-free images if they’re commercially available. You should always research images and get licensing agreements – and you shouldn’t use iconography, animated characters, or memes containing copyright-protected images!

We Were Nostalgic Before It Was Cool

At Matcha Design, some of us were there before trends became nostalgic (when they first appeared). In fact, our company was founded shortly after Y2K (in 2004), so if you want a team with first-hand experience with quirky, nostalgic trends, we’re your people! 

Contact us for help with your modern nostalgia-themed graphic design project today!

About Matcha Design

Matcha Design is a full-service creative B2B agency with decades of experience executing its client’s visions. The award-winning company specializes in web design, logo design, branding, marketing campaign, print, UX/UI, video production, commercial photography, advertising, and more. Matcha Design upholds the highest personal standards for excellence and can see things from a unique perspective due to its multicultural background.  The company consistently delivers custom, high-quality, innovative solutions to its clients using technical savvy and endless creativity. For more information, visit

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