I like to wait until early Spring before posting what I believe to be trending for the year, so I can see what design demands I get from my clients, and hopefully provide a more accurate logo trend forecast for the year. You can’t get any more accurate then deriving your content straight from the source. Who said there’s anything wrong with being fashionably late anyhow?
I’ve read various online logo trend reports that were posted right out of the gate in the beginning of 2018, and agree with a few, and some I disagree with whole heartedly.
Let’s start with the definition of the word trend.
Trend: Noun: The general course or prevailing tendency; drift.
That brings me to want to eliminate some aspects from the yearly logo trends list. The negative space element within a logo design is timeless, and should never in my eyes be labeled as a “trend”. It will forever be trending, so let’s not be forever redundant. We’ve seen it back in , Fedex’s hidden arrow, in the usa network logo and countless others. Any time you pull in the audience’s eye to linger at a graphic to decifer another hidden element, engage the brain to process that visual quickly and succinctly, in a thoughtful and minimal manner…you force the audience to carry that experience, that memory with them; The “lingering logo” I call it. Hence, creating a successful logo design. I consistently get that request from clients during concept meetings. It will never be eliminated from the logo goal list, and I don’t feel it needs to be listed as a new trend for any upcoming year. It’s a timeless logo design tool that will cross over many generations, and should be in every designer’s toolbox of design elements to impart into a brand when able. Most often then not, its unattainable, if you don’t have objects and letterforms that lends themself to that approach. This clever use of negative space will never expire. It’s not a fad, its a logo design mission; If you’re good. (insert wink).
I strongly disagree with the another trend I’d like to strike from the list. The “stacked logo trend”. I could not pull that off as a valid design comp with a client if it came with a free puppy. When you interupt the flow of the eye reading a word or phrase, it requires more effort and time to impress upon the viewer the company name or brand. You require more eye muscle memory. You have about 3 seconds to register and deliver that message. Pausing, even for a millisecond for each syllable adds up to additional time and effort to familiarize yourself with that new brand name. Case in point, I remember this so-called stacked trend in the 90’s for tshirts and hip hop brands specifically. The only time I’ve requested that I create a stacked logo design was for that specific purpose in late 2017 for a client called, Yesterday’s Attic, an online vintage 80/90’s brand for a tshirt design. The logo design lent itself to a stacked version solely because it was going to be printed large on shirts, and was reflective of that era, before logo designs and branding needed to be optimized for sites, apps, social media, etc. The only other time I’ve witnessed it working well was for Steve Job’s commissioned “next logo” because there were only 4 letters. In conclusion, the more stacking, the more space and real estate is required to house the design in media, making it succeptable to be smaller and less readable, so let’s just chunk this one.
Ok, now that I’ve purged my initial thoughts on what’s not trending, in my head, let’s jump into what is trending based on what I’ve experienced with providing various logo design comps, and seeing which ones get selected by local Austin clients. A real world test in my eyes as Austin is the creative and tech hub or startups and entrepeneurial businesses. These logos have a job, and have to function in the real world, not a pretty blog.
1.) Linear, geometric logo marks. These graphics with hard lines, strong edges, and parallel lines, scream modernism and are often preferred by my clients. No more frilly, flourishes or unnecessary detail are requested. They seem to desire simpler flat logo marks. See a few images below that most of my clients have preferred over previous graphic styles of the years past:
2.) Flat colors vs. Gradient? The jury is still out for me on this one to be honest. If I had 2 buckets and only approved flat colored logo designs were tossed into one bucket, and another into a gradient-colored only logos into another, I’d say about 40% select the gradient options and 60% choose the flat color option.
3.) Hand lettering. These fluid typographic type treatments were always, and will be trending for some time. The only time I see hand lettering-based logos going away is maybe in the year 2070…when everything is majorly minimal and modern, when have established colonies on Mars, and more utilitarian vibes are in. Otherwise, all the instagram typographers will have plenty of work for quite some time.
5.) The colorless, but impactful logo. I’ve seen quite a few clients request a logo designed in black and white. Even if they are going with antique, vintage vibes, they want to see their logo in black and white. I can’t entertain them with the same logo design in rusty reds and browns, aged, cremey vanillas or metal grays. I see this most with clients that are in the home interior or modern home or architecture fields that do not want color in their logo design to compete with the colors in their photos and take away any focus. I think its a little genius in a way. We all know, the test of a good logo is if its A.) Readable in black and white and B.) Readable at about 1 inch big. They can always change it later to a color, like the ol’ CBS logo. But in the meantime, a good ol’ black and white logo still does its happy, little job pretty darn well.
6.) Monogram logo marks. Those are a great solution for clients that don’t want the same tired, literal graphic and don’t want a clip art, stock image vibe. Merging 2 letters together for a simple mark was done well by Louis Vuitton, Gucci and others. I remember admiring my cousin’s Gucci purse when I was about 11 or 12. I loved the simple, clean way they merges those cute little G’s to make a little mark that functioned almost as a dot, as one unit and more importantly…you could repeat as a pattern, without it dizzing the eye. These work great for brands using both a client’s first and last names, and don’t have a business brand name that includes a specific visual object to interpret.
7.) The Serif font is sort of having a moment. I remember being a “Communication Arts” student at Southwest Texas State…errr…Yes, I’m a dinosaur…let me translate, A graphic design student at Texas State University and the professor asking about preferred fonts and it was universally, “san serif”. Serifs were reserved for your folks, way too old school. Suggesting its use in class in the late 90’s was like feeding them chocolate covered grasshoppers…the look of disgust on their face was priceless. But, certain serif fonts are working well for some brands. A slimmer, tapered serif can give sexy vibes. One of my favorites I’ve purchased is scotch from myfonts.com. I’ve seen it used in branding on exterior buildings in South Congress. It sort of grabs you because its unsuspecting. We have been expecting simple san serif fonts for a while now, so to see it used captures your eye, and makes a designer stop if only for a moment.
Try one of these logo trend applications on your designs and see where it takes you.