Designers as Scouts and Guides in Alien Territory
By Bill Gardner, Founder + President, logolounge.com
Preparing for this year’s LogoLounge.com Logo Trend Report, I couldn’t help but land on the word drama. No, not the flippant kind that plays out as passive aggressive jabs between partners, but more like the ancient Greek kind: comedies, tragedies and satire that help us fully connect with the human experience.
Design firms either did very well or very poorly. Either their phone was ringing off the hook or quit ringing entirely. Distance working has enabled distant client relationships and more connectivity between virtual offices opened opportunities for those willing to embrace it.
Go-to freelancers often saw even more work because agencies are more amenable to remote contractors. It’s just as easy to connect with an in-house designer on Zoom as it is with someone halfway across the country. New players emerged and old ones shifted into new spaces.
It was a year of learning, as we all picked up new skill sets and had to hone our communication style to fit the medium. Folks previously unfamiliar found themselves meeting solely via Zoom, Team, Skype, Google Meet, etc.
Small businesses had space to flourish, as side gigs became full-time hustles. And until many of these scale up, they depended on small-batch artisan brands to avoid being so pretentious as to be beyond belief — authenticity matters.
Our trip to a virtual business model hyper jumped in time by necessity. The burgeoning business that is on digital is trying to find the blendo between slick and personal.
Products related to pets, plants, and cleaning caught our at-home attention, delivery reigned, and new skills were served up through online courses: cooking, writing, art, crocheting, juggling, you name it. Connectivity was our driving factor, and cyber interactions were the hygienic choice.
The big question is how much of this will stay stuck to the wall over the next few years and how much is a reactionary foible?
What we do know from graphic trends is that they swing on a pendulum. When anything reaches saturation we will rush back to the other side to fill the void.
All of this is exceptional news for designers and especially for branding. This infusion of new products, services and enthusiasts have stories to be told and we are the people to do that.
People in branding are hired to tell stories and create meaning. Make the drama matter.
Consumers are looking for guidance in alien territory and we are the scouts and the guides. Brands have to be where the customers are and this year they weren’t in brick and mortar locales, they were online. All the more reasons brands need to be designed to live in the RGB world.
Conversely, we felt a deep need to disconnect from technology this year, and connect with nature. Ecology and the environment were huge themes this year, with a slight twist in every genre toward sustainability.
Unsurprisingly, many of the trends are geared to showing a shift in our culture or in a brand. Off Jogs visually jump from level A to level B in an abrupt message of change, while Swingers and Spliced CBC both show transitions in space.
Electric Tape and Dog Tags speak to the immediacy of the message without following past conventions to finesse and pamper the message — intentional and strategic imperfection that speaks to the aesthetic.
Responsive identity design shifted from variable fonts to variable typefaces that shifted from display serif to stark sans serif just to prove it could be done and demonstrate extraordinary metamorphoses.
Old school etched logos came back with a vengeance but were retooled to reproduce digitally.
Snakes on Swords and Sushi on Chopsticks as well as every iteration of the revolutionary fist thrust into the air abound. Avocados, droplets, palm trees and pine trees and a few too many cute critters chopped in half to expose their innards are not as we assumed.
And as with ABSOLUTELY every report it is key to remember I am just reporting what we have found by thoroughly scrutinizing the more than 35,000 logos submitted to LogoLounge since last year’s report. This is in addition to reviewing every significant brand introduction and update internationally for the past year as well.
About the Report
This is a trend report and NOT a trendy report.
It is an observation of the trajectory and evolution of key design directions. Yours is not to imitate but to use these to inform you where our industry is going and if you are able to stand on the shoulders of these designs and push them to the next great iteration or a completely new level. If so you may be the creator of what we’ll be admiring with envy a year from now. You may well have crafted the beginnings of the next exceptional trend.
2021 marks the 18th 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).
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 12) 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Off Jog
- Spliced CBC
- Electric Tape
- Trans Flip
- Dog Tags