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What is nostalgia? Simply put, nostalgia is the feeling of sentimental longing for a time or place in the past. This sensation is different for everyone and is based on their generation, childhood upbringing, and past experiences. However, one thing everyone has in common is that we seem to be drawn to nostalgia during times of uncertainty and change. Currently we are all experiencing a life filled with uncertainty and anxiety due to this worldwide pandemic. So, let’s find a way to ease each others minds through the use of nostalgic design and marketing.

If executed properly, applying notes of nostalgia in design and especially in packaging, products can provide warmth and comfort to consumers based on their fond memories. These positive associations lure people in emotionally by appealing to their sentimental side. As humans, we are programmed with the notion of longing; a condition we as a species cannot escape. This means we have to use it in our favor rather than as a crutch or weakness, and within design is the perfect way to do so.

So what is the power of nostalgia?

This psychological reaction is triggered by our senses through sight, smell, taste, sound and even touch. It’s effects are prominently pleasant and can give people a greater sense of security and belonging. As Dr. Filippo Cordaro states, “…recalling these positive memories simply puts us in a more positive mood. On a more complex level, recalling these experiences makes us feel a stronger sense of social connectedness with others.” As designers, we have the unique power to tap in and appeal to our audiences and elicit those feel-good feelings, but what else can it do?

The notion of vintage or retro design has suddenly re-emerged and is taking the marketing industry by storm, particularly in the food and beverage space. A few strong and promising benefits of vintage-inspired branding are as follows.


The promise of quality and authenticity is enhanced with vintage packaging. It implies expert craftsmanship, skill and technique since in the past we relied on masters of their discipline rather than on technology. It also suggests that the product has been around as long as it has been because of its quality.


Nostalgic-forward design can also inspire respect among customers because it’s style helps evoke a greater sense of tradition and value. It can also imply rarity given that many older products are not as available as they once were, which makes them seem more precious to the consumer.


First impressions greatly influence a buyers actions so strong visuals are imperitive in catching their attention. Luckily, the qualities of vintage or retro design ensure beauty since so much care and attention goes into the little details.

Now, that we know what nostalgic design can accomplish, how can we achieve this vintage/retro aesthetic? The three most effective design features we can work with are fonts, colors and visuals.


The fonts used throughout a brand is probably the easiest and most effective tool in creating that feeling of nostalgia. Certain type and lettering directly relates to specific periods in time, making the old-time feel a lot more obvious, but intentional.

Color Palette

Color is another incredibly efficient technique in achieving this desired retro look. In this case, a simple, more subdued palette will accomplish that vintage appearance and historical impact.


The visual elements and decoration within a design are extremely compelling and have the ability to send the viewer back in time. Distinct illustrative styles can also convey an exact period or place consistent with your intended impression.

So there you have it. Using nostalgia in our design and marketing efforts not only sells, but connects with our audience on a deeper more sentimental level, ultimately building a sense of trust and affection with our brand. Everybody loves that warm, fuzzy feeling so let’s remember the good old days and allow ourselves to give in to our craving for simpler times.