The quest for an ideal logo is a critical process in the life of every enterprise. With the immense amount of energy that goes into creating a product or service, organizations large and small search for that one authentic and visually memorable graphic representation of their brand. Consider some of the custom logo design trends for 2017 and how they can help to brand your business.
There is always a tension between being timeless and being current with a balance between being genuine and being an attention-grabber. In today’s gigantic marketplace, there is always an eye on what people are responding to when it comes to branding. What is fresh? Why do some recent logos now seem dated and stale? How are the smartest designers propelling an existing style up to a new level relevant to today’s sensibilities? Rapid changes in thinking, culture, and technology impact the trends.
Analyzing and debating why some trends take off and others get left by the wayside can spark a fascinating debate. However, in the active search to develop a new logo or re-imagine an existing one, those sort of academic exercises could be time wasted while new ideas pass by quickly. Here are the trends that have emerged over this past year for you to look forward to when you think of custom logo design trends in 2017.
Simpler means clearer and more memorable. In a world overwhelmed with an assault of visual information, simplicity stands out. Attention spans are shorter, too, so input needs to register quickly and with a lasting impact.
Basic is Better
Look around at brands that have taken their design from logo to icon, but at the same time have given it a stronger spirit and greater flexibility. Pepsi did it at the beginning of this century when they reduced their symbol to the “Pepsi globe.” The company removed the lettering, and it now works with a multitude of variations inside that circle. Removing unnecessary graphic elements doesn’t mean a logo must become mundane or lifeless. Target uses its simple bullseye in a flow of ever-changing contexts, but customers know that the bullseye will always be playful and represent great value in contemporary style.
Like the 20th-century design aesthetic it springs from, minimalism’s credo is “less is more.” It calls for using only the essential elements to convey a brand’s identity. It strips away everything extraneous, for example, from the background or from color gradients. It remembers that “form follows function,” and that a logo’s function is getting the message across.
Minimalism lets the viewer focus on the main ideas to make sure the message stays front and center. The type itself can become a most interesting visual piece of the design. There is no need to eliminate illustrative elements in this style. Instead, imagery can be smartly incorporated in reductive ways that will surprise the viewer yet be memorable. Generally speaking, the great advantage of a minimalist logo is that it tends to be timeless.
This trend plays on nostalgia for the final decades of the last century. When something seems familiar, it catches the eye. A retro-modern logo works with the emotions to evoke warm feelings from the period, but it avoids the quaintness or sentimentality of a vintage design.
It plays with the design elements by refreshing them with more contemporary color palettes or by stylizing the typical, expected fonts. Retro-modern also tends to be whimsical and colorful, like the times it recalls. The visuals can also link to the early age of computing, perhaps with clunky screen graphics and over-digitalization, to help connect with an audience that has fond feelings for the era in which they grew up.
Just when you think it has all been done, designers are still pushing and probing to find new ways to play with lettering. They are not afraid to initially deconstruct a letter or a word in order to rethink its most elemental components.
With fresh eyes, the basic lines or curves can be rebuilt with added depth of meaning. It is important to ask, though, if breaking a letter open in some original way conveys part of the brand’s story. Does that break represent, for example, easy access, disruption, openness or some other design element?
Having a hand-drawn logo projects a lot about a company’s approach to business, and this look is increasingly seen in contemporary trademarks.
Viewers trust that a human personality is behind what they are seeing. The drawings can still reflect a range of brand personalities, from sophisticated to playful to comforting. When logos in this style seem genuine and unique, the viewer will perhaps linger a second longer. Studies show that consumers, especially younger generations, have become resistant to the generic, pre-produced fonts and imagery they have been seeing their entire lives.
Using negative space in logo design for visual engagement is a potent tool, and perhaps why
its use is on the rise again. Negative space most often incorporates an object, at first unseen, into the negative space.
The Mental Process
There is an interactive mental process in action, no matter how imperceptibly fast or fleeting. It makes the viewer ask what the relevant message is, thereby having it last longer in our memories. The most famous contemporary example is the FedEx logo, where the negative space in the type forms an arrow, with its implications of action and heading to the mark.
With the large variety of media screens, there’s a good chance a logo will be looked at in many different formats. This may be one good reason we are seeing some of the above trends, such as simplification and the use of bold, simple minimalist imagery.
It is important that a logo will maintain its impact if it is scalable to technology. Today, a logo may be viewed on a smartphone, a tablet or a jumbotron. Who can say what may come down the pike next? In this respect, it is good to look ahead. If a brand’s logo is clear and simple, it can be tweaked as necessary for various formats rather than have to go through a major redesign.
A single flat line with a single weight has been gaining in popularity. It is being seen more and more often.
It may be used in the logo image, in the logotype or in combination. Being straightforward, uncomplicated and easy to read brings a casualness to the design. Line art also offers versatility because it translates easily into different media. There is no worry of losing subtlety in color variations or dimensionality.
Consider some other trends that are sure to be on the forefront of logo design options during the year ahead.
This new trend brings depth and surprise into a logo in media where it can be embedded. The cinemagraph is a still photo infused with a minimal amount of movement. The animation is usually done using a GIF. The image incorporates just enough action to catch the eye and bring a subtle, extra dimension to the logo.
Color Palette Reduction
In line with the trend of simplification comes the move towards keeping the colors of a logo in a contained palette. A less fussy palette puts the image front and center. The viewer is less distracted so the image can do the talking. Along with the use of fewer colors or perhaps a single color, the move in this directions allows bolder and richer colors to come forward.
Geometry has been around forever, but today it is coming front and center in a big way. Again, this may have to do with the idea and demands of simplicity. Still, there is a purity of the circles, square, and triangles that are so basic to the universal visual vocabulary. Its appeal is enduring and cannot be overstated.
Another visual approach that is making a big comeback is the cropping of words, phrases, and images. This is another interactive technique that makes the viewer put together the puzzle to define what is missing. This tends to immediately capture the viewer as they instinctively engage to fill in the missing pieces and grab the meaning. There must be careful consideration when deciding how much is needed or not needed to get the message across.
A Continuing Paradox
Every entity wants a logo that appeals to the current eye and seems relevant. The contradiction comes with the goal of having the graphic design last and continues to carry a brand’s identity for years into the future. Novelty and change for the sake of change won’t go so far in the long run. Just as the reliability of a brand helps it hold steady, the consistency of its identity and character reassures clients and customers. To attain memorability, always look to the underlying principles of logo design by making it distinctive, enduring, versatile and appropriate to the brand’s story.
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