Great logos are timeless and memorable because they are based on solid design principles that succeed in a variety of contexts. But staying current with trends has its place too. Both design agencies and in-house designers know the creative process is a slow evolution and the best logos adapt over time. Here are five trends in logo design you’ll want to consider in your current branding efforts.
Nowadays, logos need to be able to scale across multiple platforms, surfaces, and resolutions. The growing number of ways in which a logo is viewed and experienced these days require a design that is flexible and resilient enough to adapt to all these varying contexts. As a result, current logo designs seem to be reverting to a more minimalist approach. Anny Chen, Experience Designer at Adobe, affirms that flatter logo designs with simpler shapes and lines have been trending for a while. “A successful logo needs to work from a large-scale billboard size down to a 16×16 pixel icon size and still be legible. When considering all of these parameters, a simpler logo design can make more sense from a usability standpoint. Also, going back to that age-old motto, ‘Less is more,’ the success behind a lot of memorable logos is in their seemingly ‘obviousness’ as a solution. It’s far more challenging to create something that looks effortless and simple, and a timeless logo mark relies on solid design principles that will likely hold up better over time than one that simply jumps on the bandwagon of what’s currently trendy.”
Interactive and Dynamic Design
Brands are also starting to showcase interactive identities—Google Doodles is the perfect example. “We’re seeing more and more brands experiment with dynamic logo designs,” shares Anny. “A brand can no longer rely on a singular and static logo mark to tell its story, but rather the definition of a logo has expanded into a system of parts (or logo sets) that is much more fluid and can work across the entire brand. As companies start to focus more on brand experiences, the traditional logo mark needs to embody a level of openness and dynamism that allows the visual identity to adapt to any context. Experimental Jetset’s rebranding of the Whitney Museum a couple years ago is a good example of how a dynamic identity was created through the ‘responsive W’.” A couple of other good examples of brand identity systems include Paula Scher’s rebrand of The New School and Michael Beirut’s rebrand of the MIT Media Lab. Designers building brand experiences across surfaces and devices can benefit from prototyping tools like Adobe XD.
Anny notes that while we’re not quite there yet in terms of execution, the idea that logos can be generated through algorithms is an interesting trend that’s starting to pick up. “Sagmiester and Walsh’s branding for the company, Fugue, took the concept of the dynamic identity one step further by creating software that allows the logo to “regenerate” itself based off of the data that gets fed into it.” Some companies have even started offering logo generator services that claim that you can remove designers from the process entirely and rely on computer algorithms to create the logo instead. The result of these generators is currently not nearly what a good designer can deliver, though advancements in AI and machine learning technologies might make this an interesting trend to observe in the future.
Nike, MTV, and even Hillary Clinton play with how viewers reinterpret logos — essentially filling an empty vessel with new meaning over time. However, Shawn Cheris, Director of Experience Design at Adobe, reminds us that those logos are already easily recognized and presented in their own context. This allows brands to get creative and reimagine their traditional logo in new ways. “Well-established brands, like MTV, have the flexibility to let viewers reinterpret their logo because they are already watching the channel.” He continues, “For Hillary, the letter H as part of her logo didn’t necessarily need to carry much weight as most people were encountering it in a Facebook or Twitter feed, where they were already very familiar with what the logo represented in that context.”
Aside from being closer to the problem, an in-house team dedicated to branding can give companies more control over how their identity will develop over time. “When you work in-house, you have the advantage of being able to witness firsthand the growth and development of a brand,” says Shawn. “A company’s product strategy can shift quickly over time, and a brand identity system needs to be able to withstand those changes and still feel cohesive. An in-house team has the benefit of being able to be ‘on the ground’ so to speak and evolve the brand system when necessary.”
Building brand equity takes time, and trends will always play a part in that process. In the 1960s, designers embraced minimalism too — one or two colors, simple fonts, and an understated, flat design. We see a lot of those trends resurface today. So, the design styles and trends aren’t necessarily “new,” but simply stand in contrast to what came immediately before. And while minimalism may be “hot” now, in another decade it may be appealing to create a logo that uses more colors — gradients are already heading that direction — or one that is more detailed. Design trends are seen through a moving window and brands that want to stay out front visually need to differentiate themselves from what is being done in the present.
Adobe Creative Cloud not only gives you the tools you need for great design, but also tools for using that design in all its applications. To effectively roll out the latest evolution of your logo, store logo files in CC Libraries — this will automatically update every logo use to the latest version in all existing CC files.