Logo Design by Manishsatija.comby Manish Satija Founder & Creative Director
Logo Design from a year of observation by Manishsatija.com, and a few all-gladiator poring over recent uploads worldwide, an overall concept develop to me: Designers are paying heed to the old saying and rebelling against involution. Simplicity is king once again.
Typography has taken a decidedly strong swing to the stark. Nearly a modern-artistic style , many wordmarks have deserted much of their attribute and adopted a universal sans-serif construction. I say modern because with every creed of a style there are shifts from its former self.
Notice also the simplicity of shape. Pure geometry is much more evident as foundation components in logos. As we’ll investigate, the circle has never been more central to design and in such a stripped down motif. Center stage without the wardrobe. These pared down planes are popping up across the board. More and more companies are electing to go, or following their designers, down this road. One conclusion we might draw is that a simplistic logo represents a company whose products or services are perhaps uncomplicated and speak for themselves.
Whatever the reason, this trend is likely to help a company break through some of the jumble, at least for the time being. But the pendulum will swing again.
Let’s take a closer look at a few examples of these techniques.
Google, Verizon and Lenovo replaced type that had unique components - serifs, gradients, italics - for very uncomplicated, sans-serif fonts.
Interestingly enough, Hobby Lobby and Viceland - two very different companies communicating very different messages - have landed on very similar type solutions.
The ArtCenter utilized univocal shape and type techniques by expanding the role of the pure, large circle and with even more simplistic type than before. My opinion is that it’s either audaciously brilliant or completely cold-eyed and averting. I can’t quite decide.
And while the ArtCenter is locking up their type to the right of the circle, TNT is setting their sans-serifs smack dab in the middle.
And remember, identity design doesn’t live in a vacuum. If we’re seeing the modern mantra manifest in logos, we’ll be seeing it in the broader design environment as well.
Take for example, some of the new ways we are communicating and understanding messages, such as the use of emojis. Because emojis are a reflection of the symbols that we understand and logo designers base their craft on symbolism, it’s important to investigate what people are working with when it comes to symbols. There is a plethora of universal symbols and icons that are widely recognized - a rotary-style telephone, for example, even though the majority of the population hasn’t used this device to place calls for decades. Other icons require us to use our imaginations, and even then we sometimes miss the message completely. As designers, we must rely on symbols and cliches that the public understands. That level of familiarity must exist, or we risk miscommunication.
As this trend progresses, as it surely will, those who are connected to the Internet of things will understand icons and logos better than those who are less connected.
When it comes to emojis, you either love and use them, or hate and discard them completely. The vast majority of the modern world is apparently loving them, and using them to convey often complex messages and feelings with just a simple mark.
The emergence of this type of design is interesting. Remember when the world was demanding a sarcasm font? I believe one was even suggested and circulated for a short while (reverse italics, anyone?). But then along came the semicolon-dash-right parenthesis, and soon after, its winking emoji counterpart, which jerked the rug right out from under the reverse italics and swiftly took its place as the preferred way of saying, “that comment/question wasn’t totally serious.”
But some people are taking emojis very seriously. In fact, there is litigation in progress regarding whether these graphics should be considered a language all their own. If you’re thinking to yourself, “well, that’s silly,” think about the message behind the icon. If someone texts an emoji of a gun pointed at a police officer to a city council member, should that be considered a threat? If someone relentlessly texts hundreds of smilie faces to you, should that be considered stalking? This is the serious side of an otherwise silly form of communication.
And for you data heads out there, we offer these insights about emojis: - Most of the messages sent using emojis are positive in nature.
- More women use them than men, although not drastically so.
- They’re used by people within a wide range of ages and ethnicities.
- The popularity of specific emojis varies by geographic area offering an interesting, yet certainly incomplete, glimpse into different societies’ tendencies.
- The most popular emojis are in the “faces,” “hearts” and “hand gestures” categories. The least popular emojis are in the “reading material,” “film” and “travel” categories. I’ll stop there, since I’m a bit terrified about what that could indicate about our society.
So what does the future have in store for icons and emojis? People will either grow weary of using the same faces and hearts to communicate and will either demand new designs to replace them or drop the trend altogether. If the former, what will future icons look like? If the latter, what will replace them?
What else we saw this year
Spot Pics - Example: TNT
Wide Logos - Examples: Oculus and Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Tinker Toys - Example: Think Geelong
Filters - Example: Fitbit
Dumbells - Example: Evolution Athletics
Based on the rich data source, we’re able to draw a number of conclusions based solely on the number of uploads and searches. This data tells us that mountains, water drops and locater symbols are still popular choices among logo designers, and that tea leaves have replaced the bounty of hops we saw last year.
Designers continue to have an affinity for birds, although this trend is slowing slightly. Ants come in last place in the logo animal kingdom. And fish and cats are gaining momentum, but foxes and goats are losing speed.
Searches for “vintage,” “orange” and “red” have decreased, while terms including “fitness,” “green,” “health,” “modern,” “clean,” “icon” and “sans-serif” have increased.
Slowing industry-related searches include “law,” “sports,” “baking,” “entertainment,” “video games,” “technology,” “food” and “ministry.” Rising industry searches include “fitness,” “residential development,” “non-profit,” “real estate,” “health care,” “brewery,” “culture” and “museums.”
Type's of Logo Trends in 2016
At a distance these marks may give the effect of gradient ebbing from one color to the next, but by creating a series of stepped rise, designers are cheating the module. For years the phantom of creating a logo that demanded a four-color process was forbidden. Sheens and gradations that once caused reproduction costs to escalate were overcome by changes in technology and the noise of the obstructor weakened. That challenge settled, designs now achieve this ombré effect by completing color transitions one step at a time. It’s a signature effect and one that a clever designer can pull off with no more than a couple of spot colors. Example: Butrfly, Myrkott Animation Studio, Mindful Therapy Group
That ubiquitous icon of perfection and infinite symbolism has become a raging shape. Designers wanting to define a concept have steal onto this element as the universal visual placeholder in an effort to make the challenge as simple as pie. (Which is also round.) In the last two years we’ve seen USA Today and The Art Center adopt perfect circles as their logos, And even India has started adopting this trend. And these are by no means the first or the last. This trend is much broader and is inclusive of endless simple iterations of circles upon circles upon circles. Imagine you’re asked to explain a concept using only circles and you’ve captured the spirit of these solutions. Example: Manishsatija.com
Half and Half
Even a designer resigned to using flat tone can still lift a logo off the page. Split the center and dial up the light to one side or the other. A dynamic corner perspective nearly always trumps a head-on view, but the tone-on-tone divide delivers interest. Don’t think of this as an iteration of the positive-negative split that generally creates a high contrast break and is seldom used to imply volume. This trick has turned into the symbolic three-dimensional shortcut of choice. Without doubt the hardline value-shift breaks up surface tension and adds a modicum of interest where there was none. Example: Riverwood, Titan
You’re only as strong as your weakest link. Or, the weakest link in a chain is the strongest, because only it can break the chain. Both great perspectives depending on which link you are. The concept of linkage is packed with metaphors and similes, but they generally come down to pairing one with others to expand capabilities. It demonstrates a commitment to another and a commitment to a cause, and though breaking bondage is an entirely different proposition, these marks are built around the strength of union. Example: Qudrat
You can read clinicians who wax endlessly about individuals who subconsciously with their fingers or eyes trace figures in a never ending loop. Figure eights are common but imitating even more complex patterns will manifest as well. It’s a bit akin to a mild version of the condition “swimming,” a common habit of repetitive actions. Now consider a few of these marks by starting to trace their loop and stopping where you started, if you can stop. Mesmerizing, these logos create a continuous pathway that become both addictive and engaging at the same time. Example: Andesign
There’s a long-standing tradition of building containers. They encompass what’s important, they help protect our belongings and if you dress them up, contents that are otherwise unremarkable suddenly take on a pretty good luster. Especially when trying to lift a piece of type into the category of logo or wordmark, an enclosure of whatever shape seems to be the shorthand language to get you there. In past trend reports we have identified other trending shapes but this year the number of rectangular boxes with clipped or rounded opposite corners is truly remarkable. Example: Flora Street Cafe
Whether describing a diminutive postage stamp or a quarter section, each has four corners. It’s a basic way of defining any rectangular space. It’s how we frame a masterpiece or the first dollar we earned. It the symbolic parenthesis we use to draw attention to what’s inside. And it’s a further signal that simplicity of mark and concept has returned. Whether mitered at the ends or square cut like the letter L, gathered in a foursome or standing alone, corners have played a central role in identity design over the last year. Example: The Valentine, Artspace
In design, the challenge with all things being equal is that all things are equal. In the evolving saga of mono-line logos you eventually reach a point where defining a hierarchy of line is valuable. That may sound challenging since the premise of mono-line design ostensibly is everything is mono or one weight. Certainly differentiation could be by color, but in a single color environment signaling variance with a dashed line seems a perfect fit and introduces some missing texture as a bonus feature. Example: Prapas, MCA Chicago
Who doesn’t love a good puzzle? Enigmatically juxtaposing letterforms is tantamount to a challenge. It’s throwing down the gauntlet and taunting the public to decode a message. There’s something about the need for order in our DNA. These marks leave us determined to straighten out or push these characters into alignment or make sense of the chaos. When the cipher’s been conquered and the consumer is awash with the glow of the “aha” moment the logos in question have admirably accomplished their objective. Example: Sharing Economy UK
Sometimes a visual building block debuts and in short order it’s been cast with top billing in too many productions to enumerate. Descriptive words for this element appear elusive at first blush. A transparent racetrack oval left in the oven just long enough to curl up on the edges and the ends with a twist. Frankly it’s somewhere between a Fritos Scoops and a feminine liner, but with much more potential. It’s a pleasant shape to be sure, but its function is less than evident. String a few of these together around a central axis and you hint at a pretty good sphere. Example: Osiptel
Shields have been a tried and true component of identification for as long as ... well, as long as there have been shields. They demonstrate protection, authority, and are the assurance of one’s official capacity. They hearken back to kingdoms, fiefdoms, freedoms and any other “doms” with a legacy worth the battle. Symbolism that entrenched in heritage is certainly worth application but maybe with a nuanced nod, not too beholding to the past. To that end, an abundance of pocket-shaped shields have captured the industry’s imagination. Example: Wilkins
Much as a CAT Scan allows a physician to produce cross sectional views of the human body, alternately, adept designers are applying the same investigative perspective to logos. Imagine running a three dimensional logo through a bread slicer and reassembling those slices in space. Adjust for optimal perspective and you pretty much have the technique down. Of course, depending on if your slices are opaque, translucent, transparent or otherwise, the result can be an eye-popping rendition of an entity open entirely to public scrutiny. Example: Tridio
Squares and circles have a special place in the hearts of most designers. They’re relatively efficient shapes that allow us to contain an idea. The constraints of the shape are a concept the public understands so venial design sins can be forgiven if the greater good is to fit inside given geometry. Favicons favor the square logo as well, presenting the opportunity to maximize every one of the 256 potential pixels at hand. So who’s to blame a designer for trying to optimize alpha numeric characters in the skin of a square? These letter block logos have several other commonalities, including strong balance due to parity between the positive and negative spaces. Example: Dirt Jockey
Nearly a decade following the Moving Brands iconic Swisscom logo-in-motion, a new crop of ambiguously twisted chards is taking flight. This new generation of ethereal floating symbols is still full of potential, but is every bit as conceptual as a logo can get. Don’t expect consumers to capture the essence of an industry based on a glimpse of the mark. Rather, expect the public to divine a sense of personality, or at the very least, be so captivated by the brash vagueness that they’ll be inspired to investigate further. Example: Thai Union, SNCA
Of all the critical building blocks of design, rhythm is probably one of the most misunderstood components. There is a reason we feel comfortable with rhythm. It is the repetition of sound or movement, either simple or complex that allows us to forecast the future. It’s the repeating refrain of a song or the pattern in a textile that only requires partial consumption for you to complete what’s next. Example: Concept, Stripes and Stripes
Now what makes a Good Logo?
Five Principles of Effective Logo Design are
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