The New Pepsi Logo Proves the Mass Appeal of Nostalgic Rebrands

Posted inBranding & Identity Design

I’ve always enjoyed forecasting trends and was fortunate to go deep into them while studying branding at graduate school. I better understood how to analyze events in time, music, furniture, colors, and even drugs to be able to create a solid and sensitive understanding of what might come next. For example, looking into any kind of cultural manifestation like art, clothes, music, movies, furniture, news, or body language in attempts to understand what drives people reveals elements of something that is starting to happen or is already happening. This could help us predict a new emerging trend.  

A new trend of brand redesigns probably started in 2021 with a new Burger King logo that evokes its beloved ’70s identity, bringing back memories of better times.

In 2018, the British fashion brand Burberry went through a logo and monogram redesign that stated the vision of its chief creative officer, Riccardo Tisci. Back then, their newly released logo followed a blanding trend where distinctive wordmarks like the elegant slanted Yves Saint Laurent changed to a sans-serif bold wordmark. I get they were trying to signal change, as well as adapting their brands to live in the digital world, but at what cost?

In early 2023, Daniel Lee took command as Burberry’s new creative officer, and the brand once again showed the world a new identity— which, in my opinion, hit a home run by bringing back their recently lost Equestrian Knight symbol and exquisitely redrawing their wordmark. They even wiped out all previous social media content as a clean-state strategy.

This month, Pepsi jumped into this back-to-the-roots trend and surprised us with a new brand identity. They brought back their midcentury look, but with revamped packaging and a promising design system that prepares the brand to live in both the physical and digital arenas. There are mixed feelings so far over the internet, but that always happens, particularly when a legacy brand goes through a major change. We will see how this develops once they roll out in market this fall.

I’m still digesting it, but so far, I like it!

I will keenly keep searching for new brand redesigns following this “old school” trend. I firmly believe in heritage, and when done properly, a brand can bulletproof itself for a while and raise the bar for its competitors.

Ricardo Saca is the US and Mexico Managing Partner for Cato Brand Partners, a Global Design and Branding Consultancy. He is a Master in Branding from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and has 20+ years of experience working with a wide range of companies, from startups to airlines. He is an animal lover and a plant-based cyclist.