When designing a logo or developing a brand, many businesses want it to be modern or even minimalist. While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that approach, it’s not for every brand. Perhaps your brand represents a specific approach (such as a baker who uses small-batch, old world methods) or wants to capture a different time period (such as a fashion designer who specializes in clothing from a certain era). If so, vintage logo design and branding may be the best approach.

In fact, some high-profile brands and organizations have “gone retro” in recent years, either reverting back to previous, beloved logos or redesigning their brand to give off that vintage feel.

Rebranding that is vintage

Thinking of injecting some old-school cool into your brand? Here is how to make it work.

What is vintage design style?

When people describe a design as vintage, they mean a style that evokes design trends from an earlier time period.

Many of these styles are derived from how they are made. These include:

  • Engraving: A technique often used on wedding invitations and formal stationery.
  • Hand lettering: These were frequently done on shop windows to promote sales.
  • Calligraphy: A decorative style of hand-writing used on diplomas and invitations.
  • Etching: A technique that created a certain style of line art illustrations often used on art prints or in textbooks.
  • Metal or woodblock type: Using letterpress, moveable type to create printed posters, books and periodicals.
  • Illustrations: Before computers, all illustrations were completed by hand using paints or markers.

As you look at this list, you’ll notice these are all techniques that are almost obsolete because of computers and modern, digital printing techniques.

The style of the finished work created by these various techniques was not as precise as what can be created by a computer. There may have been limitations to how many colors could be used, or how thin a line could be produced. Solid blocks of color had imperfections and sharp edges were not always that clean.

They also suggest a simpler time, when things were made to last and were higher quality. Therefore, they are associated with many positive emotional qualities.

Vintage logo design inspiration

Using inspiration from businesses and design applications from these previous eras, some new businesses are re-creating the feel of these techniques in their logos.

Examples of vintage logo designs

How to create a vintage logo design

Inspiration for your vintage logo may come from different techniques and time periods. For example, you may be looking to create the formality of an engraved wedding invitation or the fun woodblock print of an old circus poster.

Examples of vintage logo designs

How to create a vintage brand design

After you’ve created your vintage logo design, you’ll want to continue building your brand with other visuals. You can create a modern brand design, by thinking about the design of your website, social media posts, printed marketing materials, signs, packaging, etc.

Examples of vintage or retro branding

To create a vintage-looking brand, look beyond your logo design, to the other elements that go into building your whole brand identity.

  • Photography: In the past, photography may have been only black and white or sepia-toned. Or, the quality of the reproduction was poor.
  • Print quality: Sometimes people mimic the quality of old offset printing by making the print dots visible or the color balance intentionally off. Lines may look less crisp.
  • Illustrations: Illustrations were much more common in the past when photography was expensive or difficult to reproduce.
  • Layout: There is no one universal trend, but symmetrical and centered layouts were more common in the past.
  • Typography: Using serif typefaces or block print type.
  • Decorations: There was more extensive use of floral patterns and decorative frames.

Is a vintage style a good fit for your brand?

One of the reasons that people choose to develop a vintage look for their brand identity is to promote the characteristics of these earlier time periods. Whereas modern brands may be promoting their innovative, online, self-service approach, brands that want to remind people of their personalized service and high-quality materials may want to choose a vintage design style. Vintage design is good for a business that wants to avoid looking like a fast-fashion, disposable type of product.