Recently, I’ve had people ask me to write about current trends in logo design. In addition to creating logos and brand identities as a part of my branding process, it’s hard-wired in me to monitor what’s around me, and to give my impressions about the success of big name national rebrands or local small biz launches.
“Wow, that’s insightful,” they say, “Write about that!”
The problem is that moving from an individual critique to industry trends is huge. Part of what’s lacking is the context. When I’m talking about a rebrand, I usually have some knowledge of the history, market, product, service, customers, etc., that are represented. Logo “trend reports” on the other hand are typically just looking at the esthetic product completely separated from the brand process and the business. And anyone can be a critic, right?
There are tons of blog posts out there about specific visual trends seen in collective logo design. Just Google “logo trends” and you can see how many reports there are. (And how blatantly plagiaristic they end up being.) Most people posting these trend reports seem to be asking their readers, “Want to know which design fad to follow next? Find out here!”
The problem is that true brand meaning isn’t going to be driven just from a visual trick or a treatment. In looking at trends, the real question is, are you looking for context or for a “solution” to swipe?
Five Guidelines for Leveraging Logo (and Other) Trends
(1) Ingest a lot of visual material from various sources and use it to identify overall influences and indicators (including what to avoid) rather than a trend path to follow.
(2) Rather than specifically looking for trends to solve a problem, look for those brand identity solutions you see that nail the concept and make you stop and think, or at least take notice. That is what to emulate; not a style or a visual trick.
(3) To understand the most significant and influential trends, don’t just look at logos…or even graphic design, for that matter. Watch what’s going on in architecture, product design, interior design, fashion, etc., to get a sense for the transcendental trends.
(4) Beyond your positive or negative esthetic reaction to the logos you notice, deconstruct why you like or dislike them, and why they work or don’t, rather than just adapting what you see that you like. This will make you more adept at #2.
(5) Think of trend analysis as cumulative and as a continuum. If you loosely catalog your positive and negative feedback into categories (most logos will occupy more than one) over time, you’ll start to see the common threads. (More on this in Part 2 in this series.)
If you hoped for me to tell you here that your next logo needs to be a “potato chip” (yes, there’s a building fascination with hyperbolic paraboloids—planes and shapes twisted in 3D to resemble Pringles) you’re going to be disappointed. I’m going to leave the easy Google searching to you, and talk about what trends represent and what we can learn from them.
In the next two parts in this series I’ll talk about how to read the trends, how to use them to inform your work or your decisions, and finally give you my impressions of what I see as the most significant overall long term and lasting trends today.
Also in this series: