BY BILL GARDNER, PRESIDENT OF GARDNER DESIGN AND FOUNDER OF LOGOLOUNGE.COM
This year’s logo trends were influenced by a pendulum shift that’s starting to swing from clean, modern aesthetics toward curvy, retro designs that reflect a new attitude through color and embellishments.
Any time we look at trends, we tend to see that there is a pendulum that is swinging. For instance, it’s not uncommon to see an evolution from a flat logo to something dimensional or vice versa. But over the last three years in particular, from a typography standpoint, we’ve seen a transition toward very austere sans serif logos. Google flipped from a serif font to a sans serif, and other major brands like Verizon, Calvin Klein, and Century 21 did the same. Part of what’s going on here is this idea of clarifying the message and conveying transparency. Unfortunately, it also strips these brands of any personality when it becomes too sterile. However, this year, the pendulum is starting to swing in the other direction as a direct reaction.
When everyone moves to this level of simplicity, designers counter it with some embellishment. Very expressive logos are making a comeback, which is a direct result of nostalgia or reboots. We’ve seen it played out on the big screen in Ready Player One and on the small screen in Stranger Things. There’s a thirst for nostalgia and this hearkening to past decades. Designers are dusting off their old font folders, going back to designs that were popular in the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s. Letters with big, expressive serifs, similar to a man having a mustache — it’s an added embellishment that changes the viewer’s perspective, perhaps recalling a different time period, but done in a uniquely new way, with modern influences. Millennials are most responsible for bringing these trends back into play, and you see it everywhere with the resurgence of tiki bars and speakeasys, and custom products like shaving kits for men. By going backwards, you can pick and choose what you want to bring forward and blend it with contemporary aesthetics. I’ve seen a lot of brands doing this successfully, and I think it’s just the beginning.
Color expectations have also changed dramatically. Because color mostly lives onscreen, there is a greater intensity in color range because it’s being projected. Colors are merging and blending, and gradients are now part of our color dialogue. A lot of this has to do with apps like Instagram — which, in fact, has a gradation as part of its logo. That’s an extreme example, because it runs the gamut from yellow to pink to purple, but most gradients are very subtle like red shifting toward red-orange, in essence making a new color. People now recognize gradients as colors. This is a trend that will continue to shift and grow.
All three of these movements work together as nostalgia swings the pendulum through different decades and influences color choice and customization. You’ll see a vast array of these examples throughout the report.
It’s important to note that trend is not a bad word, and it doesn’t equate to trendy, as in here today, gone tomorrow. The logos featured here are on the outer-edge, influencing the next big thing. Much of it is experimental, which ultimately pushes design to the next evolution. We all live by trends — whether it’s fashion, food, or design. We like them and we adopt them because they make life more diverse and fun, even as they evolve and change. The key takeaway from this is not to imitate, but to find a way to push these ideas forward and make them your own.
For an even deeper look at this year’s trends, visit our learning course on LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com).
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15 Trends From The LogoLounge Report
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