Logos Don’t Appear Out of Thin Air
By Bill Gardner, Founder + President, LogoLounge.com
Maybe it’s because I live in the Midwest, or maybe it’s because I put this report together every spring when the region’s nickname ‘tornado alley’ suddenly makes sense, but I can’t help realizing how logo trends and weather have a lot in common. Context.
As unique and fantastic and otherworldly as tornadoes are … they don’t appear out of thin air. They’re created by certain conditions. They’re not always predictable, but there’s a certain pattern that emerges before they appear, especially if you’re paying attention.
I’ve been paying attention. To a few million logos over the years. And much like a meteorologist (perhaps you’d call me a logologist) I start to notice patterns or certain conditions that exist when logo trends emerge. Logos don’t simply emerge from thin air either, no pre-existing conditions, no context. And if they do, they’ll appear anomalous to the public.
Context isn’t just particular cultural movements or moments, it’s also tools and technology.
While the advancing cold front of AI has sent a chill down many a creator’s spine (we’re talking about Artificial Intelligence, not Adobe Illustrator), it’s important to understand how to work with it, instead of ignoring it or working against it. (Don’t spit into the wind.)
Instead of taking the tools at their face value, learn to use them as a sort of brainstorming tool. Much like lightning disrupts the sky and illuminates things in new and wild ways, AI can quickly churn out unique perspectives. Sometimes they’re awful (like when it hits a tree, sets it on fire, and it falls on the house nearby) and sometimes it’s incredible and releases nitrogen into the air, fertilizing the ground below and fostering new growth. In other words, AI isn’t going anywhere, so we might as well use this tool to enhance the creative thought process we already excel at.
I recently came across this (unattributed) quote on LinkedIn, and loved it so much I want to share it with you:
“Don’t worry about AI stealing your job. To replace graphic designers with AI, clients will need to accurately describe what they want. We’re safe.”
The tool du jour is inflation…
Another tool we see coming in on the trend front, the tool du jour, so to speak, is inflation. No, not the economic kind that means you need to take out a second mortgage to pay for groceries. I’m talking about the kind that enables designers to “puff up and lift” items off a page, like Sam Smith strutting the red carpet in an inflatable black latex suit at the BRIT Awards. As a standalone piece, the (probably squeaky) balloon-esque ensemble might not make much sense, so it’s important to understand the context of the design trend. Anticipate designers over-using this 3D tool in a nascent way until it shifts gears to a more mature and thoughtful capability and not just a trick.
It’s not an easy job making sense of all the logos we receive each year – more than 30,000 of them–to put together this report. It’s like the world’s largest match game for myself and a cadre of exceptional designers. We initially identified around 60-70 clusters, then divided those down into the 15 with the greatest impact.
This trend report looks back to move us forward – providing invaluable insight developed by countless hours tracking the trajectory of design trends. I’m not here to tell you which of these trends is my favorite (though there are some stellar ones), but rather, I’m laying out ‘what is’ and sorting through the mayhem to help explain the ‘why.’
Here at LogoLounge, we know our stuff. Through analytics, intuition, good judgment, and 20 years of experience creating this report we are able to isolate nuances and breakout directions that you can use to evolve your brand design forward. We’re not telling people to pick up these styles and run with them. Rather, if you wish, you can stand on the shoulders of these emerging trends, or push them to the next iteration.
And remember, trendy and trends are not the same.
Trends are directions — the way in which something will most likely go. Trendy is more ephemeral. Renowned designer Tom Geismar said it best when he shared with me, “Nothing dulls so quickly as the cutting edge.”
For the 2023 report, we saw a variety of circular shapes take center stage, all familiar yet with their own twist (and in the case of the spiral, twists upon twists). Word marks continue to keep their traction, especially when the product they represent is already the visual leader of the brand. We’ve seen a lot of solutions rebounding from insignificant sans serif fonts, and now veering to more psychedelic, or art nouveau, retro, or irreverent. (It’s complete mayhem out there.) NeoStencil, Stretcher, Foreshort, and NameFills are all logo trends this year that elevate and differentiate text.
Last year we saw a crap ton of pink (that’s a real scientific measurement), and this year it’s green (any shade) and blue (a certain shade of blue), a newly discovered color that we can’t get enough of. Of course, at some point, every color that’s visible to the human eye has been cornered, and we must look beyond the palette proffer. So we see dichroic foils hitting the scene, shimmering with eyecatching possibilities.
Symbols (notably happy faces, castles, mushrooms, too many eyes and flags) are omnipresent, but we must keep in mind that symbols are only as strong as the context in which they were born. For example, a more eastern visual interpretation of clouds incorporates wind and they are moving westward, while the occidental variety is more static. Trends this year took us toward both the tangible and intangible. Wildflowers invite us to stop and smell the roses, Sonics make us stop and listen–while Fades alter our sense of reality and put our eyes to the test.
Now, before you dive in…
Now, before you dive into the trends, remember that I am just reporting on what we’ve found through a thorough analysis of the more than 30,000 logos submitted (and also every significant brand introduction and update internationally). We know our stuff. But just like any meteorologist will tell you, they can’t guarantee a forecast. And we can’t always predict the direction a designer will take a trend next. That’s what keeps us on our toes and makes it fun.
LogoLounge members gain access to better than 400,000 exceptional logos from which to find inspiration. They’re contextualized and searchable, making it easier to find a path that leads to your next design destination. You’ll have more than 20 years of trend reports to explore, and if the conditions are right, lightning just might strike.
Thousands of designers use LogoLounge every day as a Gallery, Portfolio, Network, and Source of Inspiration. LogoLounge members gain access to better than 400,000 exceptional logos from which to find inspiration. They’re contextualized and searchable, making it easier to find a path that leads to your next design destination. Learn more at logolounge.com/join