From hieroglyphics to hallmarks, royal seals and emperors’ heads on Roman coins, we can trace back imagery with potent symbolism for thousands of years. The logo is a modern form of something altogether more ancient and powerful.
Logos are the seal of quality, the brand stamp of approval and the image people visualize when they think of your business.
According to MIT research, “...the brand logo can be an integrator of the marketing efforts of the brand, a reflector of such effort and the icon of what the brand means to its customers.”
Your Logo Defines Your Brand
As design trends have evolved over the years, pushed forward both by fashion and technology, logos have developed too.
When creating one for your company, you have to think about the impact it will have, the message it conveys, and whether it fits into a modern design context. So let’s take a look at some different designs and think about what you should consider for your company’s next logo.
5 Logo Trends to Understand
Trend 1: Transparency
To loosely paraphrase Naomi Klein, we live in a time when corporations don’t build products, they build brands. It is the logo that ties your image together, and so it is intrinsically tied to your product, packaging, and presentation.
Nowadays, digital is driving the way; websites are being designed with user experience (UX) and mobile optimization is a focal point for brands. What’s more, web design trends tend not to shift like the sand in the Sahara, but rather move in a very definite direction.
Microsoft’s Silverlight logo is the brand image for the software giant’s internet application framework, first released in 2007.
With its subtle coloring and well-executed opacity, it still emanates a degree of sophistication and elegance.
But the logo is now showing its age.
The Inspirus logo, too, is another example with a great blend of color, transparency and choice of typography.
However, as with Dropbox’s old and new logo designs below, we can see how companies are now opting for a flatter look, removing transparency altogether.
Some might genuinely prefer the depth of the first version, but before you jump on the phone with your graphic designer, and ask for a see-through logo design, you need to remember that it’s not all about style.
When it comes to logo design, there’s an element of practicality too.
Complex logos with multiple elements and layers of transparency don’t necessarily work on mobile platforms. On the smaller screen, more detailed logos tend not to have as much impact on the user.
Trend 2: Flat Design
Imagine a stenciled image on a wall or a stamp in your passport. Bold, easily recognizable and “flat” images are currently taking over mainstream logo design.
This logo from WhoStole.it is an example of a design in this style. Not only does it clearly represent what the company does, but uses the complimentary colors of orange against green to highlight the bicycle.
Though very different in appearance, these Premier League logos also follow the same flat design style.
Almost like old-fashioned ink stamps, they leave the viewer in no doubt: the lines are clean, bold, and crisp.
The lion represents power and royalty. Close your eyes and you’ll see the typeface imprinted on your corneas.
Trend 3: Hand Drawn Design
You’ll notice from the striking logos below that hand-drawn design is idiosyncratic, playful and open.
Although you are unlikely to come across a multinational enterprise or engineering services provider rolling out a hand-drawn design, they still have their place.
These logos are more intimate and friendly. Personal services, community groups, schools and arts and craft-type businesses are well represented by such a design.
The two examples above emphasize the approachability of the brand. A client-facing company wishing to add a personal touch might well consider a design in this style.
In the second Fashion Company example, the logo also represents the handmade arts and crafts element, strongly conveying the idea that this company produces authentic, quality clothing.
Trend 4: Beautiful Typography
All right, this trend speaks for itself. Typographic designs like this are simpler and fast loading but also artistic.
In the first example, from designer Mark Sloan, the logo uses a perfect combination of a script types. It’s an elegant design that highlights the artistic nature of the company.
The second example is far bolder, but also extremely well balanced.
Note the direction of the arrows pointing to the word doubt, but also forwards to the future and progress.
Designs like these work well when they are balanced, creative and clear.
Like the flat design, they also load well and work on multiple platforms. However, it’s important to consider where these logos will be placed, so as not to disappear into the text on the page, and to ensure that they stand out sufficiently from the background.
Trend 5: Skeuomorphic Designs
Skeuomorphic designs represent real-world objects.
In Safari’s case below, we see a compass. These designs are less popular now, mostly because they take a long time to load — and different browsing platforms may render these differently.
So be aware that you may appear old-fashioned if you opt for one like this.
Just this year, another — more controversial — change from the skeuomorphic, to the flat came from Instagram.
The old skeuomorphic logo The new flat logo
Instagram’s new logo follows the trend, but reactions have been mixed, to say the least.
When famous brands make a switch this big, they can expect a backlash. Although Instagram’s logo revolution was most definitely deeply considered, the public’s reaction underlines how important it is to listen to your user base/client and not blindly follow the latest fashion.
Apple, on the other hand, is a great example of a brand that has taken something familiar and built upon it, without altering the essence of the logo itself.
Although the company’s logo has gone through a number of evolutions, it has (aside from its very first iteration) been consistent in form and always eminently recognizable as an apple with a bite taken out of it.
Undoubtedly, your branding belongs to your company.
But for your clients, it becomes personal very quickly — especially when they feel loyalty towards your product or service. It’s not a surprise, then, when famous brands provoke strong reactions when they change their logos dramatically.
So take current trends with a pinch of salt, and don’t change your image for the sake of it.
When designing a logo for the first, second or tenth time, think and consider how technology, multiple platforms and changing trends might affect your brand.
The key is to make sure that your logo is something you can be proud of. It represents your company values, and it is as unique and as powerful as your brand.
Title image by Jesse Bowser