10 Best Print Designs of All Time
1. Pepsi Halloween Print Design
Move aside Apple vs. Samsung and Ford vs. Chevrolet; the most enduring business rivalry unfolds between none other than Pepsi and Coca-Cola. This saga, as ancient as time, sees the soft drink behemoths engaged in a decades-long clash. Amidst their vast arsenal of print ads, one iconic campaign stands out — the infamous 2013 Halloween ad by Pepsi. Crafted by Buzz in a Box, a leading Belgian advertising powerhouse, the print design ingeniously depicts a Pepsi can donning a Coca-Cola cape, gleefully wishing fans a spine-chilling Halloween.
The brilliance lies in its simplicity and humor, skillfully navigating the eerie holiday ambiance. This cheeky provocation triggered an unofficial response from Coca-Cola, bearing the retort, "Everybody wants to be a hero!" Such ads exemplify the charm of print collateral, speaking a universal language that resonates with everyone.
2. Norwegian Airlines Print Design
In the realm of print design, where every inch holds significance, Norwegian Airlines has demonstrated a remarkable prowess for creativity and efficient use of space. Crafted in 2015 by the Stockholm-based agency M&C Saatchi, their print ad has become a perennial favorite, celebrated for its simplistic ingenuity.
Entitled "Flag of Flags," the design proudly showcases the Norwegian flag while concealing five additional flags within its folds, representing France, Netherlands, Poland, Finland, and Thailand. What makes this piece stand out is its ability to seamlessly integrate information. The destinations and corresponding prices are meticulously presented within neatly outlined white rectangles, employing a clean and bold sans-serif typography that enhances both clarity and visual appeal. This thoughtful and visually engaging design exemplifies the art of conveying information creatively in the confined space of print material.
3. KFC Apology Print Design
Who could forget the infamous spring of 2018, a time etched in the annals of fast-food history when the unimaginable occurred: - KFC ran out of chicken. Some, leaning toward conspiracy theories, speculate it was a turning point for global society. The saga unfolded with persistent issues from a new supplier, leading to the closure of over 900 restaurants in the UK. However, KFC navigated the crisis with finesse, eschewing deflection and boldly owning up to the blunder with a simple statement: "We f***ed up!"
This unanticipated apology, spreading like wildfire, showcased the brand's resilience and wit. This may not have been the first great KFC print campaign, as the company is renowned for its marketing efforts, but it was definitely one of the greatest. Transcending the realms of a typical PR nightmare, KFC transformed it into a masterful apology print design, deploying humor and unfiltered honesty. This candid approach resonated with their loyal customer base, turning a PR nightmare into an opportunity for the brand to emerge unscathed. In the world of marketing, where artistry meets strategy, KFC's handling of this crisis stands as a testament to their ingenuity and ability to turn adversity into triumph.
4. Band-Aid and BMW Superhero Print Designs
These marvelous and flashy print designs share something in common. They use pop culture and superhero icons to convey brand values! Band-Aid highlights the durable, flexible fabric of their bandages by showcasing the Incredible Hulk’s massive hand with a bandage on it, cleverly using the gigantic character known for his shifting stature. Not to mention that even the emerald regenerative giant needs help from time to time. On the other hand, the Flash, renowned for its agility and alacrity takes a back seat (or the driver’s one in this case) to the speed of BMW’s M3 model.
Designed by JWT (Band-Aid) and Creative Director Marco Gioe (BMW) respectively, these prints showcase how leveraging established icons and invoking nostalgia can brilliantly shine a spotlight on the products themselves.
5. WWF Print Ad Design
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is no stranger to brilliant and impactful print ads aimed at raising awareness and funds for global wildlife preservation. Unlike many organizations that rely on feelings of angst and worry, WWF takes a distinctive, yet playful approach, steering clear of fearmongering. Their philosophy of making the "horrifying more horrifying" translates into striking print campaigns that leave a lasting impression on our collective psyche, and this one is no exception.
In this print design, WWF utilizes a powerful image of a feared predator to underscore the urgency of preserving our ecosystem. The juxtaposition of two seemingly identical images, the only difference being the presence or absence of a dreaded shark fin, delivers a clear-cut message — the world becomes a far scarier place without it. WWF's ability to convey a compelling message without resorting to fear tactics showcases their commitment to engaging and informing the public about the critical need for environmental conservation.
6. Keep Calm and Carry On Poster Design
Talk about influential. Originally designed by the British Ministry of Information back in 1939, right before the start of the inevitable World War II, it was meant to keep public morale up during the tides of violence.
While some argue it was rarely used, it has become somewhat of a symbol of British defiance. Sixty years later the print was rediscovered, and its very posh slogan (as well as countless variations of the same) can be seen printed on everything, beaten only by the Superman logo and Che Guevara's face.
Additionally, the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster has left a lasting impact on the graphic design industry. It serves as a prime example of how a well-crafted design, simple and memorable slogan, and contrasting color scheme can transcend its original purpose and resonate with contemporary audiences. The poster's revival also highlights the power of nostalgia and the ability of graphic design to evoke a sense of history and shared cultural experience. Its influence can be seen in the countless imitations and adaptations that continue to emerge, making it a cultural touchstone that remains relevant to this day.
7. Live Aid Poster Design
July 13, 1985, will always be remembered as “the day music changed the world.” Live Aid, organized to raise funds for famine relief efforts in Ethiopia, was one of the most ambitious live performances, since, well, forever. Simultaneous concerts in arenas in London and Pennsylvania, linked for live broadcast saw the likes of Queen, Elton John, Dire Straits, David Bowie, Madonna, Bob Dylan, and many, many more.
It’s estimated that to date the event has helped raise over $230 million for famine relief. Designed by Steve Maher based on the idea of Bob Geldof, it depicts a stylized silhouette of the African continent as the body of a guitar. It beautifully amalgamates the symbols to communicate the event’s dual purpose: - entertainment and humanitarian aid. The poster's visual impact resonated globally, contributing to Live Aid's success in raising substantial funds. Beyond its immediate cause, the Live Aid poster remains a powerful example of graphic design's ability to merge artistic elements with social activism, creating a lasting impact on both design history and humanitarian efforts.
8. Jurassic Park Book Cover Design
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” rings hollow when our goal is, well, judging book covers. While numerous literary masterpieces “wear” recognizable covers (think To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Catch-22, The Great Gatsby, Dune, and more), our spotlight falls on Michael Crichton's sci-fi gem. Not for its cautionary genetic engineering narrative, but for its elegantly simplistic cover. Crafted by the ingenious Chip Kidd, this cover jumped off the page, leaping onto the big screen to become a symbol synonymous with one of the most successful franchises in the entertainment industry (movies amassed over $6B).
Kidd's design metaphorically breathes life into dinosaurs through skeletal imagery, a captivating monochrome contrast, and avant-garde typography. What might seem standard today was a revolutionary novelty, especially within the genre, showcasing the designer’s foresight and cementing this book cover's status as an iconic piece in the graphic design realm.
9. National Geographic Afghan Girl Magazine Cover
National Geographic is also no stranger to historically poignant magazine covers, however, the world-famous “Afghan Girl,”, an iconic piece of print design and photography captured by Steve McCurry, became one of the greatest in the industry. Featured on the June 1985 cover, the hauntingly intense gaze of Sharbat Gula, a young Afghan refugee, instantly became legendary. The sheer power of the photograph’s storytelling, depicting the harsh realities of conflict and displacement, without actually showing the horrors of war, contributed to its historical significance. McCurry's magnificent use of color, paired with the striking green of Sharbat's eyes against the muted background, and the brand’s iconic yellow framing adds to the overall visual impact.
This cover not only exemplifies exceptional photographic composition, it also brings global attention to the plight of Afghan refugees, emphasizing the intersection of journalism, photography, and print design in conveying profound narratives.
10. Yoga Mat Business Card Design
While they allow creativity and innovative approaches, business cards should be on-point, clean, classy, and concise to efficiently deliver the necessary information. Precision is key! For this reason, brands often experiment with the material and fonts, but none did it better than the Vancouver-based Flow Yoga center.
They’ve set an exemplary standard, delivering a simple business card that mimics the roll of a yoga mat. This inventive design seamlessly aligns with their brand ethos, proving that simplicity can be ingenious. While many brands experiment with materials and fonts, Flow Yoga captures attention with a tactile representation of their values. The card's tactile resemblance to a yoga mat not only makes a memorable impression but also serves as a tangible embodiment of the brand's commitment to balance, innovation, and a harmonious flow of elements.