We see trends everywhere – in our clothes, lifestyles, hobbies, and, of course, design. While some of us embrace them, which, let’s be honest, can be a lot of fun, others – completely reject anything deemed “trendy”.
However you choose to look at it, trendiness is and will remain an important factor in most aspects of our life. While generally in graphics design following the popular path can be a very good idea – logo design, in particular, comes with some nuances.
The purpose of a logo
A logo is an essential part of a business’ brand. Often times it is seen as the face of a business, or the first, most memorable visual people will associate with it.
The logo will often be present on most, if not all, of the marketing material. A business with physical products will often opt to have a logo visible on these as well. With well-established brands, a logo might become a status symbol to be put proudly on display.
That’s why, generally, it’s not a good idea to be changing a logo too often. Drastic changes might confuse the audience. Some people might be so used to the other one, they won’t easily accept the change. Physical products may become outdated. More importantly, especially when talking about established brands, the recognition of the logo will drop drastically, at least for a period of time.
With that in mind, you have to question – is following any trends a good idea when it comes to logo design? If we strive to create a logo that won’t be significantly changed for a very long time – surely, the timeless look should be desirable?
The shifting requirements
It is important to note that while chasing the trends might not be a good idea, the way a logo is used changes with time. The items we put them on change, namely, get smaller. The environment that surrounds them changes, often getting more modern.
Not many old-fashioned logos would still work well today.
That’s why sometimes, adapting the logo is inescapable, and some trends actually arise for a reason. For example, minimalism comes from the fact that we simply can’t scale down a very detailed logo to the size of an app icon, or put it on a pen, and preserve its look. But more on that later.
Not all logo design trends are equal
Now it’s time for my opinion on the matter. And as much as I might have made it look like following trends in a logo design is a bad idea… Actually, I don’t mind it. But it comes with more nuance.
A good logo is not all about how good it looks. Usability plays a big part in how well it performs. In my view, when it comes to trends, there are a few categories:
- Trends that enhance the logo’s usability;
- Neutral trends;
- Trends that lower the logo’s usability.
For example, for a while now, we’re moving towards cleaner, easier-to-read typography. This can be great for brand recognition and I’m all for it. Using animation in logo design is growing popular as well – which can be a great way to grab attention in some mediums.
Other trendy designs include distressed, distorted and “glitchy” looks – which I personally am not a fan of. Unless it particularly fits the product, this kind of design is standing behind – all it does is make the logo more difficult to read when in small sizes or in greyscale.
The case of gradients
Gradients in logo design are a rather interesting trend. It’s been growing in popularity for a while now and includes anything from a simple transition between two similar hues, to currently especially fashionable multi-colour transitions.
While some love it, others say gradients have no business in logo design. It comes down to two points:
- Colour is an important and impactful part of branding, which using gradients can make harder to do. Instead of having one or a couple of colours to really associate with, you now have a whole gradient. People associate a particular shade of red with the Coca-Cola brand – an impression that wouldn’t be as strong with a gradient.
- In some designs, a gradient, even a subtle one, can really enhance the look. It can catch attention and make it stand out among competitors.
I, myself, don’t mind gradients and use them in some designs – if it fits them. My rule is that the design has to be usable and look good without the gradient – and the additional detail should only be used to enhance the look.
A little about debranding
The phenomenon known as “debranding” has been discussed a lot lately. You’ve probably noticed it as companies simplifying their logos – removing certain elements, colours, effects and so on. While a lot of people are unhappy with this trend, there is a reason it’s being done and that has to do with the previously discussed changes in how logos are used.
Cleaner, simpler, more minimalistic logos typically look better when reduced in size, are better fit for greyscale and overall fit in nicely with a more modern world.
However, there’s a thin line between simplifying and oversimplifying. While minimalistic logos are generally a good idea, overdoing it can cause uniformity and lack of recognition. How many clothing or tech brands have you seen whose logo is just the company’s name in a similar-looking font?
In the end, adapting the logo to the modern world shouldn’t mean stripping it from its personality. A logo can be simple, unique and attractive at the same time – it doesn’t have to be a “pick one”.
In logo design, it’s not all about following trends or avoiding them like the plaque. It’s about recognizing which trends are beneficial to the logo and fitting to your brand.
Logos should be made to last – but it’s inevitable that even the timeless design will become old as our world and technology progress. The best we can do is recognize it and make choices accordingly.