The 2013 Logo Trend Report
by Bill Gardner
Forecasting the near future in design is a reflection of society’s concerns. With such rapid shifts in technology and social media, consumers react to a fear of being left behind. At one time, keeping up with trends meant reading a monthly journal. Now, not only do we have to read daily blogs, but we are expected to contribute as well. Consumers who are not participating are growing ever more anxious about the specter of being technically eclipsed.
This chasm is revealed in the decisions made daily by brand designers. More and more identity design is trying to find a way to span the gap or choose a side. This carries forward to products and services with which we build affinities. Sports teams find themselves inventing updated generations of mascots. Long standing consumables are reinventing themselves with new packaging and product design.
Digital products and their user interfaces – UI – have become major drivers in the identity field. Consumers are predisposed to transfer confidence from one app or product to another if the experiences share a visual vernacular. Flat solid color is edging forward with momentum over images that mimic three-dimensional surfaces like glass, leather, or metal, for example. Simulating surfaces like these in an environment out of context is referred to as skeuomorphism. Though it is losing its grip, it is not going away: Clichés work because they are clichés.
Smaller companies are not afraid to adopt a logo that shows them at the size they are. More approachable is a good thing, if it is authentic. Larger companies are tending to loosen up a bit to avoid pretensions and work multiple generations. Ebay, USA Today, Windows and many more over the last year have adopted wordmarks and logos that eschew styles with shorter expiration dates.
Increasingly, consumers have become comfortable in their role as contributors and not just spectators. There is a universal desire to identify even the most niche elements. The ubiquitous profile pictures on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter have turned into an opportunity to identify one's self. Personal logos and monograms have reached epidemic proportions. Avatars allow us to self-edit and reinvent ourselves visually. This has become the micro-world of self-identification.
Designers are experimenting and making smart decisions for smart clients. Those satellite areas of exploration that haven't bloomed into trends yet will either be tremendously successful or tragic failures. (Look to next year's trend report for the results.) In the meantime, there are always those unexplained clusters of visual flotsam that must be mentioned in the “quit it” column: There are too many octopuses, snakes, elephants, peacocks, kangaroos, weathervanes, wheat stalks or heads, and anchors to count.
Now we come to the comments that are a mandatory opening to each year's Trend Report – but they are worth repeating. At this writing, we have just over 204,000 logos on the LogoLounge site, submitted from designers in more than 100 countries worldwide. For this report, we examined more than 20,000 marks.
When you cull through and organize this many logos, trends are observed. The intention of this report is to share with you what we see, not make suggestions for what you should do. It is always easier to navigate to the future if you know where you have been. Seeing your trajectory allows you to predict where you will end up.
It's been suggested this might better be called an “Evolution Report,” because it is actually a report on the evolution of our industry. Design is an evolving process. It's our hope that you will use these observations, together with your own wit and perception, to advance the field of logo design to the next level of brilliance. This year we present you with the fifteen leading logo trends.