Every Ying Has Its Yang
By Bill Gardner, Founder and President, logolounge.com
Another year older, but the logo design industry shows no signs of old age. Like an unruly kid ripping through a stack of unopened presents, I eagerly dive into each annual report knowing an experience awaits. Sometimes it’s the gratification of what I’d hoped for, and the delightful surprise of unanticipated genius. Occasionally, it’s more analogous to underwear and socks, and I encounter the mundane or, rarely, the disappointing. Nevertheless, it’s evidence of industry vitality, and it’s all a gift.
So, first: the good. This year’s trends continue to show curious and hardworking design prowess at work, moving us forward to greater heights. You’ll see in this year’s themes the continuation of themes past, with their own unique slant. Gradients continue to evolve in new and enlightening ways with designers embracing less traditional color curves like red straight into green or blue swerving right into orange. These tend to create an odd hued limbo zone between the complimentary colors but as more of the adjacent color shifts like orange to magenta to violet ala Instagram are taken, we continue to look for unclaimed gradient ownership.
Patterns within logos give a retro nod in contemporary settings and often in a black and white solution. As a way to build differentiation it’s as if designers have unearthed a trove of decaying Zipatone or Letratone graphic film. Big gritty dots and stripes and mezzotints are tempered with a few wood grains and cheesy brick patterns give adornment to burly marks that might have normally been filled with color. These logos seem to take on a throwback monotone look that’s antithetical to the high-chroma gradient trend.
Modern culture continues to shift the ways we interpret symbols and how we visually prioritize in context, setting topsy-turvy the relationship between identity and application. Greater credence has been given the attending visual vocabulary as texture, pattern, typography, photography and illustrative elements have shifted seats in the visual brand hierarchy. It’s becoming more common to see a brand driven by the supporting visual aesthetics, occasionally leaving the logo to call shotgun if it’s invited along for the ride at all.
Of course every ying has its yang, which poked up its head in the form of idea repetition, especially as new plug-ins, filters, effects and animation tools are taken for a test drive. There are a few too many animated orbiting rings of type, as an example. Each is beautifully crafted and well thought through but relying on the same foundational effect as a half dozen others makes it hard to build separation. It’s never wrongdoing to try new things, but the hope is that we still work with technology advances in our own unique ways to truly make our own mark.
Additionally, in an atmosphere that thrives on exploration, portfolios increasingly feature designer fancies to try out and mimic directions and techniques of their own volition. It’s reinforcement of the ever-important freedom to create, and the practice adds to designerly chops, yet I must admit it can throw off the ability to evaluate the true direction of paid work. Especially when this unpaid, extracurricular work finds itself straying too close to its inspiration for comfort.
Yet again, I’m compelled to remind that trends do not trendy make. Unlike fads, true trends won’t effervesce with cultural shifts but instead reach out in both directions to shake hands with identities from past and future. We keep leaving breadcrumbs so that we can draw from past genius while still carving a future path that will never look exactly like what’s left behind.
Make no mistake, the current ‘popular crowd’ of themes showed up again this year: drones, mushrooms, tikis, tacos, weight balls, hedgehogs, pelicans, snakes, waffles, needles, lightbulbs, three-eyed tigers, and vaping. Temporal but many still beautifully crafted, I’ll tip my hat to them though they will eventually pass by.
As always, I’m grateful to the LogoLounge community of more than 20,000 designers across the world who provide much of the fodder for these reports. At the time of this report, our site stands at more than 300,000 logos strong, allowing our members and us to continue to watch trends as they develop in real time. It’s a privilege to work by their side to prop up the craft that we love.
About the 2019 Logo Trend Report
2019 marks the 17th year of this one-of-a-kind report. Each year, it offers the opportunity to literally review thousands upon thousands of logos one at a time, looking for nuances and artifacts of emerging trends. As we acknowledge that each design represents hours and hours of thought and struggle from designers around the world, we are as humbled and awed as ever by their dedication to the craft and grateful for the important role they play in helping us create these reports. So thank you to all of the designers who have and will contribute to the Trend Reports then, now, and for years to come.
For an even deeper look at this year’s trends, visit our course on LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com).
About Bill Gardner
Bill Gardner is the president of Gardner Design and founder of LogoLounge.com, a repository site where, in real time, members can post their logo design work and search the works of others by keyword, designer’s name, client type, and more. The site also offers news curated expressly for logo designers as well as unlimited entries for consideration in the bestselling LogoLounge book series. Bill can be contacted at email@example.com
LogoLounge.com is the most comprehensive and searchable database of logos available today. More than 300,000 logos have been submitted to the site since 2002, growing it to the largest online treasury of professionally designed logos. Through their submissions, members also gain the benefit of consideration for publication in the LogoLounge book series, the result of the most prestigious logo design competition in the world.
Through the line of LogoLounge books (currently published in volumes 1 through 10, with the 11th soon to come) designers can gain even more insights from a collection of the smartest logo designs submitted to LogoLounge from all over the world, which are hand-selected by a preeminent panel of some of the most respected names in the industry.
In 2016, LogoLounge took a giant step forward as it extended membership to the next generation of designers with LogoLounge Leap, which allows educators and students free or deeply discounted access to the site as well as online resources and educational tools.
For more information on membership and identity design news, visit LogoLounge.com.