2018’s Unavoidable Logo Design Trends
A logo is an essential component of every company’s corporate design. Because of that, logo design should not exclusively follow current trends. A bit of freshness doesn’t hurt either, though.
A business logo is the first element customers connect to a brand. If its design is distinctive and catchy, people will remember it. There’s no more natural or more reliable way for brands to keep themselves on the spot. Large companies know the power of internationally recognized logos and spend millions every year, trying to turn their business into a brand or stay one.
Since the logo is one of the most critical marketing factors, while being a rather small element, it takes a lot of creative effort to find the one optimal solution to represent the brand in public. Thus, once a design was chosen, it is recommended to consistently use it, to maintain the brand character.
However, this doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to change your logo from that day on. Instead, logos have to keep up with the times and need to be carefully adjusted to the given zeitgeist. Otherwise, your brand will seem old-fashioned sooner or later, which is only okay as long as your logo is supposed to convey very conservative values.
Of course, logo design trends don’t follow these underlying assumptions of working logo designers, as they only represent the zeitgeist. It’s your job to capture these trends and to apply them to existing logos, for example.
Even if you’re lucky enough to be able to design a fresh logo on a clean sheet, you should not get carried by current trends alone. As you can read in this article, a logo can’t be defined as a simple design task.
With this out of the way, let’s now look into the current logo design trends of 2018, which you can apply to your work with a bit of artisanal skill. Logo design trends, like other graphic design trends, don’t develop disregarding current events in the world.
One more thing in beforehand: Instead of working with three trends, I could’ve easily enumerated 12 trends from the following article. Of course, that would look more impressive. I decided not to do so, because, in my opinion, all minor trends can be classified using the following three categories.
Logo Design Trend #1: Simplicity and Creative Calm
2017 was a year of loudness, misunderstandings, threats, and confusion. Just take a look at the wooden Korean and the orange American, but other protagonists, like the outrageous Bosporussian, didn’t contribute to a cozier 2017 either.
Regarding logo design, an antipole of very calm, reserved, and serious approaches won through. Understatement as a contrast to exaggerated self-display seems likable in the mess of today, although we should still say that the trend towards simplicity and minimalism has been inevitable for several years.
The trend towards flat design is a factor in that regard as well. Simplicity is already created by flattening existing complexity. Audi showed that with their new flat style logo in 2017:
Although the design now follows a modern trend, the logo can still easily be recognized and assigned to the brand.
Aside from flat design, we can see another trend that also seems to grow in troubled times. Many brands prefer to turn to vintage and retro for their logo redesigns. This implies a certain continuity, transporting stable values, which results in a feeling of safety. As people tend to believe that everything was better in the good old days this move is very promising.
Often, continuity is already highlighted by sometimes overly careful renewals of existing logos. Changes made to the YouTube logo, for instance, are pretty clear, but can not be called bold.
Regarding the graphic elements of modern logos, we can also see an increase in the usage of geometrical shapes. Previously complex logos have recently been reduced, often down to their essential geometrical shapes. Here, it is just like with the hit writers of current top 10 songs. The lower the complexity of the melody, the higher the earworm potential. Transfer this to your logo design.
Logo Design Trend #2: Logo Design Goes Responsive
This trend is somewhat tough, as it describes a logo design which doesn’t lead to one, but multiple logos in the end. This can work, but it’s no guaranteed success.
The starting point of our considerations are logos that don’t function with a minimal footprint, but instead need a wider setup. If you imagine wider logos used on different surfaces, you’ll quickly notice that there are constellations in which uniform design won’t work.
Let’s assume you’ve designed a rather large logo; it might look good on websites and other large mediums. But what about the business card or even smaller elements? Or let’s take the responsive website. Surely, you could make compromises, and adjust fonts, or put the logo upright. None of that is a good solution, though.
It seems natural to take thoughts from responsive web design and create responsive logos in the same way. Up to a certain element size, these logos simply adapt via scaling, and once that is reached, they are either wrapped, or a different image is displayed right away.
How far this trend can be applied to existing logos is questionable. In any case, it can be food for thought for everyone that had to make lots of compromises to properly display their logo on different surfaces (and still failed in many cases).
The website “Responsive Logos” does a great job at showing that, to some extent, established logos can also be used responsively. With the change of your browser window size, the displayed logos change as well. Take a look.
Responsive logos are an excellent choice for use on social media as well. And who can neglect social media these days?
Logo Design Trend #3: Typography This Way That Way
Typography has always been a significant factor in logo design. Most successful brands use a word-image-logo, or just use their name designed to be a logo.
Thus, you could actually be surprised to see typography as a trend. In principle, you’re right. But this is not about the regular use of the brand name in the logo, but rather about variations of this concept, which we’ve only seen for a little while.
For one, this is the massive simplification of logo fonts. Fonts used in versions reduced to their basics, like the new Mozilla logo, are on the rise.
What we can see here at Mozilla is another trend, towards the accentuation of individual letters within an otherwise purely textual logo. Here, Mozilla highlights components of the protocol syntax HTTP://, which is what internet addresses start with. Others, like Pixar, replace a letter with a graphic element. In the example case, the I is replaced with a lamp, which is also animated, and the protagonist of many of the company’s short films.
In many cases, fonts alone are used as a logo. This can definitely work for very simple fonts that are easily recognizable. This trend is called Geometric Type, and it badgers classics, like the evergreen and immortal Helvetica significantly.
To me, this is a form of brutalism, though you may interpret it differently. The trend also goes towards using capital letters in logos, especially the exclusive use of all caps, also known as uppercasification.
While some say it was some opposition to the simplicity and calm trend mentioned above, others say that the reason for the uppercasification is the fact that the geometry is easier to design.
The former believe that a loud world needs to be drowned out by design. Capital letters, which have always been interpreted as yelling, are said to be the right approach, according to them. The more pragmatic designers like all-caps words, as they result in geometrically simple text blocks, which can easily be used in design grids.
Another thing that’s turning into a trend is the, seemingly brutalistic, way of stacking letters on top of each other, creating graphic blocks, or making better use of tight spaces. Looking at it this way, the so-called letter stacking can also be considered to be some kind of responsive logo design.
Last but not least, I want to mention the takeover of the popular color gradients, especially in pure font logo design. I could also name the use of flashy colors, as well as the spillover of design in the form of duotones.
All of these make sense somehow but are not suitable as general ideas for logo design. Flashy colors, gradients, and duotones are restricted to the application in colorful media. A good logo also has to work in a monochrome version.
Thus, feel free to experiment with these elements, but don’t make them the basis of your logo designs. If the only unique thing about your suggestion is the color gradient, scrap it and start over. However, if you’ve developed a logo that also works well in a monochromatic version, there is no reason not to toy around with some colors.