2012 Logo Trends – So Far
Have you ever eaten a packet of Kool-Aid? Well, I have and it’s wonderful. It’s a burst of super-concentrated flavor, not to mention a fun event to change the pace of any day that just needs a boost.
Logos are a lot like Kool-Aid packets. They’re concentrated design concepts squished into a small icon, character, or typography concept. If you want to undertake a fun design study, just review logo trends. That’s what I did.
I was curious as to what may be happening in the logo design field. Several of the logos I considered are older, but they represent the most recent logo trends that I found. Namely, I’ve been seeing a lot of transparencies, nature, paint brushes, and character designs.
So, look below for the common threads that I found within this year’s logo designs.
From top left: Soal, BrainZ, Destination, Crystal Bridges
This group of logos demonstrates a growing trend in creating logos with transparent elements. Sometimes the type is see-through, but most of the time it’s other design elements, as illustrated in the Crystal Bridges logo that seeks to create an organic look while also having the transparency of the two overlapping leaf shapes.
The result, as shown in the Soal logo, is the introduction of new colors through the overlapping process — possibly lots of new colors. Crystal Bridges and Destination end up with a three color design, but Soal and BrainZ end up with lots of variations.
Caution has to be taken with this approach to avoid creating too many colors. Of course, this is heavily dependent upon the brand itself. I personally like this trend, and far more complex examples could be found. Like any effect, though, I prefer careful application rather than going over-the-top; especially when it comes to logo design.
From top left: BioMondego, Beleza Natural, Nature Explore, Weeds
I love nature and the trend in logo designs that integrate natural themes is exciting to me. Obviously, your brand has to be conducive to this concept, but if it is, then take advantage and connect your brand with nature.
There are a couple of sub-trends within nature logos that I wanted to point out. As in the BioMondego logo, lots of gradients are showing up. This is new relative to the last 50 years, but not so new in the last 5-10 years, as more and more logos are displayed almost exclusively on a computer monitor.
Swirls, spirals, and curls are another sub-trend I’ve seen, as shown in the Beleza Natural logo. Whether it’s leaves wrapping, tree branches curling, or typography that emulates vines, I see lots of these shapes present in recent logo entrants.
The Nature Explore logo is kind of a throwback, but it integrates so many wonderful qualities that I wanted to include it. In many ways, this is a very traditional logo: two colors, simple shapes, use of an iconic element (the magnifying glass) to replace a letter or letters. Crest-like logos with a retro vibe are back.
The Weeds logo is a wonderful minimalist concept, even though it does have several shades of green. The concept, while still a stock image, is representative of the trend of minimalism in nature logos where only small, simple typographical elements are used.
From top left: Bruxa Tá Solta, Onomnom, Dublab, Diving
The use of brush strokes and watercolor-like effects is on the rise, and I’m definitely a fan. I love the broad color selections and texture that these designs bring to the table. Plus, you can still keep brush strokes simple, such as in the Bruxa Tá Solta logo where only two colors are present. All the texture is there and it draws me in.
Conversely, you have the the washed-out watercolor designs like the Onomnom logo. These shapeless, formless concepts are unique in that they’re breaking away from traditional, shape-based designs, but they’re also clearly recognizable. It’s an interesting concept that’s expanding, and I hope to see this trend refined in the coming years as more logo designers experiment with bringing an identity to an abstract shape.
The Dublab has a coffee ring-like effect, and with those wonderful colors and details, it made me look twice. This is an example of a more traditional approach with basic shapes but also use of the brush strokes. The design is not symmetrical or even balanced, but this could ultimately be a good thing; part of this brush-stroked trend involves imperfection.
Lastly, but not leastly, is the Diving logo, which is a wonderful example of color, motion, and texture. I actually thought it was the letter “A” at first, but in the context of the brand the diver became clear and all the other elements came into focus. This represents a trend in more impressionistic logo design using brush strokes and various textures. Once you observe the diver and the traces motion trail, the logo becomes very thoughtful and clever.
From top left: NachoMacho, GarTrader, Bipolar, Payaso
While this trend is real, these examples are more for fun. More and more companies are opting for a character-based logo. Sometimes, this character works completely independent of a primary. Think Pillsbury: they have their standard blue logo, but they’ve got their Doughboy walking around talking, too.
The Nacho Macho and GarTrader logos are excellent examples of quality illustration and character logos. Characters can do a lot to set the tone and mood of a brand, and these do a great job of telling you how it is. The trend in character logos is probably the one that is growing the fastest — and I like it. There’s little to no emulation in concepts like the ones above; these designs are truly unique.
The Bipolar logo is classic minimalism in action, and it’s wonderful. The character (or is it characters?) with almost no effort expresses the concept. This minimalist approach to character logos has been around for some time, but I’ve seen several expressions of it in recent months.
Last, the barfing clown is just plain funny, but it is also part of a broader trend of funny logos. In these cases, the brand is trying to make you laugh, create a friendly connection, and set the tone for your experience.
What trends have you seen in the design industry when it comes to recent logos? Have you found any patterns in what your clients are asking you to produce? Do you love or hate some of the trends that I found?