Inspiring Vintage Design: How to Use Nostalgia

by Jul 26, 2018Blog Graphics, Branding, Design Tips, guest post, Marketing, photography, small business, visual design

While designing for nostalgia could be challenging, it could be fun as well. Nostalgia marketing does well with millennials; however, the rest of the population also relate to its key messaging. Businesses can better engage their target audience by aligning their brand marketing strategy with powerful emotions, creative design and color choices that elicit strong memories. From fast food to gaming, nostalgia is everywhere. Who doesn’t love a blast from the past?

Nostalgia is often referred to as a wistful desire to return to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time. It is powerful because it brings back those times filled with deep sentiments and emotions to us.

So, why reinventing the wheels when you can bring inspiration from once upon a time? Learn to tap into that fond memories, connect with your customers by improving your design and enhancing user experience. Whether it’s Hollywood blockbusters, book covers, social media posts or creative illustrations, it’s clear that the idea of nostalgia is trending. These strategic marketing tactics are creative and enjoyable for both designers and consumers.

While there are so many inspirations out there to choose from, the following honorable mentions will give you a concrete idea of various concepts that are being used to get that retro feel and look.

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Bold Print

          Right typography can help you to emphasize your content. Users often skimp through text; therefore, by using bold print you can guide your readers visually and enhance their experience. As we are moving away from reading offline towards online reading materials, it’s often difficult to focus when the font size is too small. Small font sizes & low-contrast are the #1 complaint about web users as it relates to reading online. Bold typography can help to create visual hierarchy and improve readability.   Since texts are the major source of information, make sure your sentences are cohesive and straight to the point – to help users focus. Using bold graphics and texts can be challenging; therefore, make sure to find the right balance. Typography, for example, is a super important aspect of Stranger Things because the creators wanted to capture the look and feel of the book covers that inspired them – and the majority came from Stephen King novels. Opening credit which uses bold typography creates the true feeling of being in middle or high school and reading these awesome novels.           

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Splash of Colors

The choice of colors is very important for any brand. When we think of the Coca-Cola, we associate the color red with it, in the case of Apple, we associate the color white and finally for Nikon we associate the color yellow. For each of these brands the chosen color evokes certain emotions. Red represents bold, youthful and exciting. White balance, calmness, and purity. Yellow represents optimism, clarity, and warmth.

Consumers report that color is the primary factor when selecting a product for purchase. In order to create the feel of nostalgia, it’s important to include several colors within your design.

Movie posters in the 60’s and 70’s often include a splash of colors with experimental fonts. It’s important to play with colors and take risks with different styles. Visual factors are truly crucial when it comes to purchasing a product. Therefore, have fun with your design and make sure that your colors stand out.


Mix It Up

Whether it’s psychedelic rock posters or a simple postcard, there were no strict rules in the early days of design. Huge brands were mixing colors and designs together to create a cohesive look. While minimalism is in vogue lately, and companies often use only one or two colors for their brand, that doesn’t mean that the same rules apply to everyone. The fact is that some of the best package designers, as well as print, logo and website designers nowadays, are embracing vivid elements of nostalgia.

When creating a nostalgia-driven piece, designers have that priceless creative freedom, they are encouraged to experiment with different looks. It’s important to think outside of the box by combining modern elements with retro aspects to create a unique motif. Just make sure that there is a reason behind it, a cohesive theme in which your audience can follow.

Mixing it up doesn’t mean that you should add colors that do not belong together in the same palette. If needed, use an app such as Paletton to create your own preferable spectrum.

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When we think of retro design, bold prints and bright colors are popping up in our minds almost instantly. However, past has a lot to offer to those with a soft spot in their hearts for minimalism too. A dash of simplicity can also evoke that, oh so lovely, feeling of dreamy nostalgia. Again, take the Stranger Things design – bold neon red letters stand out amongst a black background. Simple as that. However, it manages to bring back lots of warm memories in a second.

There is a certain mystery when it comes to simplicity. Sometimes less truly is more. For example, logo design such as the Nike swoosh is simple yet it has stood the test of time. While combining black and white color with a simple swoosh sign, the designer was able to project the ideas of victory, hard work, and athleticism. Created in 1971, the swoosh logo has undergone very minor changes from its original form. The takeaway is that sometimes a simple design can convey a powerful message.

All of us have certain personal experiences and memories that we keep going back to. Therefore, it’s important to reach back into our subconscious in order to find inspiration.



Good design is more than just creating beautiful imagery and combining elements – it’s also about evoking emotions and feelings. Whether it’s fashion, web design, printing, logo design or movies, we have all seen the power of nostalgia. Time after time, again and again, creators are inspired by the past. What was old is new again, so back and so forth. While technology and design trends will come and go, one thing remains for certain – nostalgia is here to stay. It has always existed in our retrospective minds.

Where to get Vintage visual material

You can get material for a vintage-inspired design in plenty of places. In the post above you can see some links to Vintage design bundles from sites like Pixelo and Creative Market. You can find pretty much anything vintage there, from fonts to backgrounds, vector graphics and lots more. 

For even more amazing vintage vectors you should also look into Rawpixel. Simply input “vintage” into the search bar and you will be amazed at the amount of beautiful imagery you can use straight away.

Natasha is a web designer, lady of a keyboard and one hell of a tech geek. She is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs and share her knowledge about IT, digital marketing and technology trends.

To see what she is up to next, check out her Twitter.

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