Small businesses and startups have to compete in an increasingly noisy world, often against large, dominant companies.
A great logo will help boost your brand and your marketing. A poor logo will tarnish your brand.
Check out Logo Design Trends 2021: Your Essential Guide to Navigate The Biggest and Hottest Trends if you’re looking for logo design trends and styles for 2021.
That’s why many businesses, including some of the most successful, periodically rebrand.
Now, some business owners worry that the cost of logo design can be prohibitively high.
Many design companies and agencies indeed charge thousands to tens of thousands of dollars for their services. But this isn’t universally true (crowdspring’s custom logo design projects start at just $299, including all fees).
And, it’s also true that not all logos are created alike. New logo trends and fads in logo design appear every year.
Stripes, letter stacking, fades, and geometric shapes were popular logotypes in logo design last year. Additionally, monoline designs, negative space, and retro designs were all the rage.
But, which of these modern design trends and logo styles are worth following, and which logo design styles can serve as inspiration for your custom logo?
And, which new year “trends” are fads that will date your new logo in just a few years?
After all, you want your modern logo to feel fresh and relevant for an extended period and not dated a year from now.
We just emailed the brand identity workbook to you.
Not all modern logo design trends are equal. Even if a trend does offer some inherent aesthetic value, if it doesn’t support and reflect your brand, it’s a poor choice for your logo.
When it comes to branding and innovative logo design, an excellent modern logo design must reflect your brand and be memorable, unique, and timeless.
It would be best if you avoided trendy logos that get in the way of accomplishing those design goals.
As we wrote in The Small Business Guide to Creating a Perfect Logo:
At its most basic, a logo is a small, symbolic piece of artwork that represents a business. But, we’ve dug a bit deeper than that. When you set aside all the design trends and fancy fonts, at its core, a logo must:
1- Embody your brand.
2- Be instantly recognizable.
3- Be versatile.
4- Be timeless.
Everything else is optional.
In fact, I’ll go one step further. Every design choice in your logo should exist only to serve and strengthen the four items listed above. And, if you meet these four requirements, many other commonly cited logo must-haves, like simplicity and memorability, naturally follow.
Here are six contemporary logo design trends hot in 2018 (plus two trends you should avoid).
1. Creative typography
The text often supports the visual mark of a logo.
Some logos (including crowdspring’s logo) are made up entirely of text – these are called lettermarks, logotypes, or wordmarks.
You must get from your designer vector files for logos that use creative typography since these will be unique files you will not replicate with common fonts. This is one reason why crowdspring requires designers to provide vector files to clients in all custom logo design projects on crowdspring.
Think you can get a perfect score?
But not any old text will do. You can’t just plop your business name under your logo mark in a serif or sans serif font like Helvetica, Times New Roman, or Comic Sans (shudder) and call it a day.
Your typography and lettering should be as tuned in to your branding as the rest of your logo. Just look at the high-profile and high-quality logos of Coca-Cola, FedEx, Microsoft, Wikipedia, and others as great examples.
And, creative typography continues to grow in 2018. Here are just a few examples…
These fonts feature unexpected negative space (or splits) in the letters while maintaining the text’s readability. That allows you to treat parts of your company name differently.
There are endless variations to play with here between the base typeface choice and the placement of the splits.
This dynamic typography effect features a chaotic, non-linear placement of the letters.
If you have a playful or casually dynamic brand, this may be a good choice for you. But be careful because abstract logos can be difficult to read.
Rather than the perfectly smooth, polished, and fancy looping scripts of yesteryear, hand-effect typographic styles look like it’s been written by hand.
These can range from cursive scripts that look hand-drawn to crisp prints to typefaces that use playful block letters.
Often, this style is matched with a graphic, icon, or symbol to create a combination mark. Irregularity is the key to this effect, and designers will often implement different kerning techniques to better position the letters in such designs.
These letterform typographic styles are on-trend now, even if some of them make your modern logo design look old-fashioned. But, they’re only a fraction of the options available. So, don’t stop looking here.
Encourage your logo designer to play with typography to find the right fit for your brand.
2. Bright colors
The internet has changed the way that we interact with the world. Businesses must design their visual brand with this medium in mind. And your graphic designer must understand this.
After all, if you’re selling anything online, you’re competing with millions of other e-commerce businesses.
And this is true even if your organization is a non-profit – you’re still competing for attention against millions of other non-profits.
Modern logo design differs from logo design several decades ago. One of the strengths computers and mobile devices bring as a visual medium is their ability to display color. A computer or mobile screen provides a perfect canvas to show off bright, saturated colors. This is probably why we’re seeing such a significant surge in brightly colored logo designs.
Intense colors that fade from a saturated hue to a lighter one or gradients that segue from one shade to another continue to be popular in logo design.
When you combine your company’s name and an image (called a combination mark), you can try playing with different colors for both, as you see in the accompanying examples here. And try variations where the name and image are side-by-side versus one above the other.
So, don’t be afraid to ask your logo designer to play with different options and create an illustration that can accompany your logotype (your company’s name).
Just keep it simple enough that it won’t cost you a fortune when you have to print your logo.
And, don’t forget that there’s a psychology to graphic design. Specifically, colors tug on our grey matter to produce different emotional results. For more about using psychology to influence customers, check out How 21 Brands Use Color to Influence Customers to learn which colors will send the right message from your brand.
It’s a foregone conclusion that your customers will interact with your brand online. Make the most of this opportunity by capitalizing on the visual medium with eye-catching, vibrant colors that will set your logo apart from the competition.
3. Geometric line art logos
Geometric shapes eternally float in and out of favor in the worlds of architecture, fashion, and graphic design. Simple, geometric line logos are popular and continue on an uptrend in 2018.
Geometric designs are loved for their clean, elegant lines and timelessness. Geometric design done well can be a thing of beauty and create minimalist, innovative abstract logos.
However, a simple geometric line design as a logo element is not the one-size-fits-all answer that some people seem to believe it is.
Logos must be distinct. This allows us to visually identify a specific brand from the vast array of logos in the marketplace.
But, at times, simplification can undermine your efforts to make your brand identity distinct. This is a problem because your modern logo must also reflect your brand. This is where blindly following this geometric logo trend and designing a logo based on a shape can fall short for your business.
There are only a handful of basic geometric shapes – squares, circles, triangles, and diamonds. Even once you branch out into octagons, hectagons, parallelogram, and the like, there still aren’t that many. So, designers get creative and begin to layer the shapes together, play with curves, introduce negative space.
But, the results often look like “just another geometric shape logo design” – indistinct, unremarkable, and communicating nothing about your brand.
If you choose to go with a geometric line logo, make sure your symbol supports and reflects your brand identity and stick with a flat logo design (rather than a multi-dimensional design).
4. Social Media Optimized logo design
Social media continues to offer a valuable marketing platform for businesses big and small worldwide. So, it should come as no surprise that social media-friendly logos are “in” for 2018. But what exactly does this mean, and should you ask your graphic design to create a social-media-friendly company logo for you?
Most social media platforms offer a square field to display a profile picture. So, your logo should fit nicely into that square field.
But, please don’t think that we’re advocating for everyone to have a square logo – far from it! We suggest that your logo should be sufficiently self-contained and visually balanced to fit into a square.
For a naturally social media-optimized logo, avoid overtly long horizontal or vertical designs. Those are complex and take away from the simplicity you need in a social media logo.
Choose a logo with a nice visual balance between its horizontal and vertical axis. These will display well on Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram’s circular profile field.
This trend is a must-follow! It only slightly restricts your creative options and optimizes your business to put its best face forward on social media.
This is important because you want your brand to be consistent across channels, as we wrote in Grow Your Small Business With Consistent Branding:
Customers recognize unique logos easily in a sea of generic logo design. Versatile logos translate well across all mediums – from large business signage to a tiny business card. And appropriate logos create logical associations in your customer’s mind, helping them to link the logo to your product or service.
5. Simplistic letterplay
Monogram and single-letter logos (sometimes called emblem logos) are classics. And, as we head into 2018, their continued popularity continues unabated. They can also serve as your brandmark or emblem (an image, like the Nike swoosh, that’s connected to your brand identity).
Unfortunately, although they can be simple logos, letter and monogram logos can be incredibly hard to make unique even if you have a talented graphic designer.
A monogram is defined as:
a design consisting of two or more alphabetic letters combined or interlaced, commonly one’s initials
Business owners love to make logos from their business’s initials. This makes sense if consumers will associate those initials with your brand and creates a valuable, branded symbol. But, unless your brand has already had time to get established, that’s unlikely. And a monogram – unless it’s well-executed – doesn’t tell consumers much of anything about your brand.
On the contrary, monogram or single letter logos are often just a lazy retreat for designers who aren’t creative enough to think of something else. Not to mention that there are only so many ways to combine a sequence of letters. It’s almost inevitable that there’s another logo out there for a business with your initials that looks similar, if not the same, as yours.
Be wary of overly simplistic letter or monogram logos. If you must go the monogram route, make sure it is unique and brand-conscious.
6. Real-world presentation
We’ve noticed a logo design trend that we’re excited to see gaining momentum. That’s the practice of presenting a logo design in a real-world context to help clients envision the logo in actual practice.
(I know, I know… This trend is about how to present the logo, not the logo design itself. But it’s a precious practice!)
Many graphic designers are now providing mocked-up visuals of their logo designs on a t-shirt, business card, stationery, web design, infographic, or wall signage in addition to their beautifully rendered design. These supplemental materials not only help clients see what the logo might look like in practice, but they can also be used to help influence a brand identity.
Choose a style that looks appropriate to the brand for your mock-up to help the client better understand how to communicate their brand beyond their logo visually. This may also influence their perception of what their brand might look like once fully realized. Mockups can be a great inspiration.
A strong designer will always do their best to enable their client to see the complete design picture. Not to mention that mocking up business cards or letterhead may inspire the client to invest in those items. A practice that serves the client and the designer is always a trend we want to support!
7. Swooshy people (avoid!)
Let’s face it, most businesses interact with people in some way. So, people are a pretty common theme in logo design.
Over the past decade, a trend for abstract, curvy line people has developed and continues to grow.
We call these design elements “swooshy people.”
They’re everywhere, especially from online logo makers or logo generators. Those sites offer generic templates used by thousands of other businesses.
And, now that we’ve pointed them out, they’ll probably start haunting you at every turn just like they haunt us.
The curved lines of the figures suggest dynamism and movement. They’re colorful. They’re playful.
And they’re also wholly overdone and overused, as we demonstrated in an earlier article, Why You Should Avoid Making This Stupid Branding Mistake With Your Logo.
There are so many swooshy people logos flooding the market that it’s impossible to design one that doesn’t already exist somewhere. Often, this is because designers use stock art or templates to design swooshy people logos, and you should avoid stock art at all costs in logo design.
We feel strongly about this. Crowdspring has always had a rule that no stock art, templates, or generic art can be used in custom logo design projects on crowdspring.
Don’t be lured in by the swooshy person’s bright colors or faceless relatability. They should not serve as design inspiration. Swooshy people are enemies of unique logo design. They don’t distinguish your brand and are not memorable enough to help your prospective customers remember you.
You want a unique and innovative logo. You NEED a unique and creative logo if you’re going to stand out in the marketplace. Skip generic logos and invest in a custom logo design that will help your business stand out from the crowd.
Steer clear of the swooshy person trap, lest your logo be confused with every other swooshy person logo out there.
8. Pixellated Designs (avoid!)
Technology defines our contemporary culture so much that the technology of days past inspires fond nostalgia today. Think floppy disks, CD-ROMs, and 16-bit graphics. “Oh, look how cute we were back then! We thought that technology was advanced!”
One of the results of this nostalgia is the pixellated logo trend.
Some versions feature logos rendered entirely in the 8 or 16-bit pixel style. Others transition from a more natural image into pixels.
However the style is executed, it is sure to date your logo.
Pixel art is tied to the specific date range of the ’80s and ’90s. And, our current perception of pixellated art as fun and quirky will fade. The zeitgeist will continue to change – it always does.
Incorporating this pixellated style will leave you with a logo that inspires folks to ask, “Remember when we thought pixel art was cool?” instead of inspiring them to trust your brand as modern and relevant.
You can do better. Take a pass on the pixels.
Before you go…
Trends are always tricky to navigate. Human beings are compelled to conform and try to fit in. It’s in our basic makeup. But following the crowd isn’t always the best choice. Sometimes we should leave that shiny new trend alone.
The bottom line is always to let your brand guide you. It’s more important to create an authentic brand identity than it is to be “on fleek.”
So when you’re researching logo design trends or logo design styles this year for your next business or looking to redesign an existing logo … make sure to ask yourself if that trend really represents your brand. We’re happy to help – let us know if you’d like a free design consultation with our team.
Want a closer look at all design trends for 2020?2020 Logo design trends
2020 Web design trends
2020 Product design trends
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