Once a year, Logolounge logo expert Bill Gardner releases the logo trend report, and while I like to pretend not to care much about trends, I still look at it as soon as it comes out and take stock of my own logo creations over the year. Gardner and his team studied and analyzed over 35,000 logos submitted by designers and clients this past year and created this thoroughly vetted collection of 15 design trends. Here is an abbreviated report with a few of my own comments.
At one point, Gardner says that logos don’t simply emerge from thin air without any pre-existing conditions or context. With context, he refers to cultural movements, current tools and technology, and the rise of AI. I have not experimented with AI in logo creation yet, but I am curious and might explore it as a brainstorming and time-saving tool. AI can help to quickly churn out many, mainly bad, ideas or simply trigger new ideas and perspectives. But I don’t want to dwell on the threats and advantages of AI. That is a topic for another article.
My main approach to logo design is also context but more focused on each individual client. Where are they now, and where do they want to go? Is there a rich history we want to honor or a specific story that inspired an idea/product/service? And we can never forget who we are designing for. Yes, the client, but more so the people they are trying to reach. That’s why I spend half my time with my clients building their brand foundation and the other half creating their brand. Together, we dig deep to unroot all their business’s unique nuances and create a meaningful and authentic logo.
OK, here we go, 15 logo trends…
01 | Wildflowers
Blooms, flowers, leaves, vines, buds, petals, and any kind of botanical matter are always a good choice to brand all things natural, holistic, or healthful. It is something we are all very familiar with, see daily, and will recognize even when highly simplified and stylized. Flowers have such a rich symbolic meaning; think love and romance, beauty and elegance, growth and renewal, happiness, mourning, celebration, and spirituality. So it’s no surprise that they are (still) trending.
02 | Bloblend
Weird name, I know. But it means organically shaped imperfect marks that are loose, relaxed, and comfortable. They all seem to be created out of a squeeze bottle. Gardner says, “That unconstructed liquid appearance may well speak to the spontaneous nature of the brand experience you’ll come to expect, or the flexibility you can anticipate. It’s often attached to natural or leisure-oriented products that want to dial down the wall of formality.” I used this approach in one of my client’s logo options (which didn’t make the cut) for an adventurous snack company: Nomad Snacks.
03 | Fades
Fades especially blurry ones (as I adjust my glasses), make the logo trend cut. The symbology is great, especially when blending focused and unfocused elements or showing a gradual shift. It depicts building clarity and transformation. This can be suitable for companies that aim to communicate growth, change, and a clear vision, such as consulting firms, coaching and personal development brands, tech companies, and the education, wellness, and health sector.
04 | Foreshort
Taking a two-dimensional plane and distorting it back into space to create a sense of space, cinematic drama, and slow the viewer down for a double take. These foreshortened logos demonstrate space and time or anything else that exists on a continuum. Similar to the Fades logo trend, it is suitable for companies with transformation at their service’s core. But I can also see this working for tech companies that pride themselves in innovations and forward-thinking.
05 | Thrust
A refreshing alternative to the cliché arrow that has been overused in the past to depict rise, growth, and uplift. These new logos show upward direction, velocity, and segments of thrust in different layers and stages of the process.
06 | Spirals
The Fibonacci sequence, or golden ratio, is nothing new and has been trending since the 1800s in art. It helps us understand nature, and designers build an aesthetically pleasing logo. Based on the number sequence, the resulting spiral is most associated with the cross-section of a nautilus shell, but we see it taken further, simplified, stylized, and altered. I guess I was right on trend when I designed my client’s Nautilus Construction logo. But it doesn’t count because it’s been around for centuries.
07 | Sonic
How can we make sound visible? We’ve been leaning heavily on sound measuring devices, showing sound as sine waves or bars from an audio equalizer. We still see these cliché interpretations of sound because they are recognizable to us as sound. But these new logos have taken sound waves and bars further, giving them more meaning and visual interest.
08 | WireForms
Another great way to show progression and push boundaries is redefining boundary lines, as seen in this WireForm trend. Most of these marks are crafted in a monoline aesthetic, simply shifting lines, modifying the outline, and often taking on a dimensional quality as boundary lines.
09 | BallCaps
Not the Baseball kind, and yes, a very specific logo trend. If you look closer at these logos, you’ll notice each line has been capped with a ball tip. A starting point or ending point? Maybe. Or a circuit board reference. There is definitely an undeniable technical tone to these, but also a story or journey; the line is merely a pathway to reach a conclusion.
10 | NameFills
This one is for the typography-loving designer who also wants to create a symbol. Gardner registered many logos with words creating all kinds of shapes, symbols and even forming new letters. And most hold their own as a symbol and typographic mark. The only concern with some of these marks is that the type quickly becomes fine print when going down in size.
11 | Stretchers
Expression through type is the focus here, with added layers of meaning and symbolism, which can be achieved by stretching letterforms to tell the brand story. It may be no more than extending a significant letter or the more unorthodox method of a stretched letter from a different typeface. These efforts are ranging between subtle adjustments to loud and bold distortions. No matter what, letter modifications are made with purpose, care, and a deeper concept.
12 | NeoStencil
Another logo trend drawing from the past is stenciling. Stenciling has been around since the seventeenth century and was used primarily to paint passages from the bible inside churches. With a little care, the artist would return and fill in the gaps left by the stencil pattern. But that didn’t always happen, and was seen as imperfect and unruly. So, why do we emulate this flawed type style? Because it breaks the rules. Association with stencils are industrial, construction, DIY, for the people, and grass root efforts. And in this particular trend, the designer changed where and why letter breaks occur (those neglected gaps), and the modified letter breaks tell a new, probably still, unruly story.
13 | HalfAster
Asterisks are a designer’s favorite. Reliable, kind of cool-looking in any imaginable version, with so much meaning. It indicates something special, something that needs more attention. But the new placeholder on the block is the cut-in-half asterisk which becomes more of a sparkle or sunburst and therefore instills even more meaning. Gardner says, “It’s the sparkle that may be missing from a mundane product or the promise of radiance associated with its use.”
14 | Double Os
Another odd one at first glance, but the O is a circle, the perfect shape, that always had a special place in the hearts of designers, again with so much symbolic meaning. Now take two Os, or circles; we compound the symbology with concepts of relationship, exchange, and connection of all sorts: good, bad, symbiotic, emotional, subordinate, superior… endless options and interpretations.
Sure enough, I used it for the brand identity for Wholeness At Work. Two intersection circles represent wholeness in personal life and work, creating a balanced and integrated unit.
15 | Ritz
Yes, the cracker. And its recognizable shape. Not sure if these scalloped-edged circles were intentionally modeled after the Ritz cracker, but the shape emulates comfort, familiarity, and happiness. The soft profile also reminds us of a seal on a certificate we won or implies a warranty or something official. More happiness, security, and ease.
OK, I need a snack now 🙂
There you have it. Fifteen logo trends that are good to be aware of for various reasons. One: to avoid them altogether and not look like one more of those trending brands, or Two: to embrace them, use them as inspiration, and push them further to the next iteration.