Perspective - Branding during a permacrisis

By Martin Hopkins | 14 December 2023
Martin Hopkins, creative director at Principals.

The AdNews end of year Perspectives, looking back at 2023 and forward to next year.

2023 was meant to bring back the fun times.


Virgin said ‘Bring on wonderful’ but the permacrisis continues.





Bush fires

Giant carpet snakes

Rising interest rates

Rising cost of living

Australia votes NO

The threat of recession

More wars

This has obviously all had an impact on the world of branding.

Uncertainty, reduced client budgets etc.

It’s no surprise many brands are still looking back to better times.

An English knight from 1901 rode back into town for Burberry.


Pepsi stopped looking to the cosmos and went back to its 1950s identity.


Eurostar travelled back to the golden age of train travel.


Telstra stopped seeing life in full colour went back to its blue and orange.


Some brands did look to the future, with mostly negative reactions.

New Yorkers weren’t happy that INY added ‘WE’ and ‘C’. Apparently making Milton Glazer kern in his grave.


Our favourite little blue bird got crossed out by Elon.


The former king of mobile, now a b2b innovation and tech company Nokia shifted to a future where legibility isn’t a thing.


None went down too well on Twitter, I mean X. Maybe the time isn’t right to be bold or when launching a rebrand, don’t let the logo change become the headline.

Australia should have said YES but didn’t.

In better news, diversity and inclusion are first and foremost on many brands' agendas.

The identity for the FIFA Women’s World Cup showed us that our First Nations art could coexist and be reimagined in a contemporary way. Shame it was a US-based studio that did it.


Disability representation has been thrust into the spotlight with the brilliant Shift20 initiative. Australia’s top brands committed to representing both visible and non-visible disability in their marketing and comms.


The climate crisis is also back on the agenda for many brands.

Mother Nature called in on Apple. A brilliantly executed Ted Lasso-esque mockumentary but with annual updates to un-upgradable products, greenwashing fingers pointed.


Looking forward to 2024, I hope the list at the top drastically reduces bringing a fall in interest rates both for my mortgage and client confidence, leading to greater optimism to help break out of the nostalgia bubble and create braver more forward-focused work.

Martin Hopkins is a creative director at branding agency Principals.

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