5 Tried and True Design Devices for Logo Designers
Thanks to Bill Gardner and LogoLounge and judges Aaron Draplin (Draplin Design Co.), Von Glitschka (Glitschka Studios) Su Mathews Hale (Lippincott), Andreas Karl (Karl Design) Chad Michael (Chad Michael Studio), Emily Oberman (Pentagram), Yo Santosa (Ferroconcrete) Felix Sockwell, Alex Tass, and Alex Trochut for all their insights and opinions into the logo design trends and insights that tried-and-true as well as impacting design in a fresh way right now.
When applied appropriately, crests can convey a sense of tradition, whether the brand has a rich history or not, and they blend a variety of design elements to create a cohesive look. “I like them because they are complex but still simple to read and take in,” Glitschka says. “A handful of these were in my top-rated logos.”
Draplin adds, “I loved the ‘pack a bunch of stuff in’ crests I saw. But of course, those work best when you can read all the stuff, say, on a T-shirt. I just dug the detail, line consistency and overall spirit of how people packed in a ton of info to such beautiful lock-ups. That’s how we used to do it on the top of a barrel carrying—I don’t know—hard tack or some shit.”
“I have noticed the use of basic geometric elements—circles, squares, either on their own or involved in constructions where symmetry and logic were involved,” Tass explains. “It is definitely a classic direction, but one that never gets old.”
“The unified weight look has really caught fire over the past decade, where an image or typography is designed with a single stroke weight,” Michael observes. “I enjoy this approach, but it is difficult to master beautifully.”
With so many breweries and coffee shops popping up everywhere, it’s no surprise that hand-lettered, artisan logos are still relevant. People crave the details over the monotony. Sockwell thinks it’s simpler than that. “There’s a lot of digital stuff that looks impersonal, and this goes directly against that.”
In the same vein, seals and type on a curved baseline were prevalent. As Santosa notes, “They are classic devices, but I’m guessing it’s really popular because it gives a crafty/artisan feel.”
“The highlighted silhouette look has been around for over 100 years, so I found it comforting to know designers are still employing this and successfully so,” says Michael. “Of course, as with any style, it is all about execution and avoiding regurgitating a form we’ve all seen a hundred times. The highlighted silhouette is here to stay.”
FOR A COUPLE YEARS IN A ROW: I’d meet a kid who was a graphic designer at Subway. And in the frenzy of a merch table or sweaty meet-n-greet, he’d introduce himself, we’d get to bullshitting and when he’d tell me he worked in the art department for Subway, he’d kind of apologize for it. As if it wasn’t cool enough, or something? And it always crushed me.
I’d soothe the guy each time, “Hey man, I get a Subway sando ever four months. Some people, they live off the stuff. You are insured, right? You work on good machines, right? You like the job enough to stick around, right? Don’t beat yourself up, man. Subway customers deserve good design too! And that’s YOU. Hell yeah!” And we’d hug it out. And talk about BLTs and shit. And bread types. And extra meat options. And whatever else.
That’s what I think about when I drive past a Subway, or see someone demolishing one on a bus stop bench. That kid works on that experience, and it’s valid, and it matters…and holy fuck, I’m suddenly HUNGRY AS HELL.
David Nakamoto took the shot of the discarded Subway cup you are seeing here. What a beautiful mark on that thing! Such good moves. And, great colors. The lid? And the straw? All considered and done so well. (Thanks, @audraglint!)
So to all you in-house badasses out there, let this be known: The DDC tips it hat at you with respect. Anyone who looks down at those sorts of gigs can suck it.
#donotmesswith #thelittleguy #hattip#green #yellow #subway #suddenlyhungry
BY BILL GARDNER, PRESIDENT OF GARDNER DESIGN AND FOUNDER OF LOGOLOUNGE.COM
This year’s logo trends were influenced by a pendulum shift that’s starting to swing from clean, modern aesthetics toward curvy, retro designs that reflect a new attitude through color and embellishments.
Any time we look at trends, we tend to see that there is a pendulum that is swinging. For instance, it’s not uncommon to see an evolution from a flat logo to something dimensional or vice versa. But over the last three years in particular, from a typography standpoint, we’ve seen a transition toward very austere sans serif logos. Google flipped from a serif font to a sans serif, and other major brands like Verizon, Calvin Klein, and Century 21 did the same. Part of what’s going on here is this idea of clarifying the message and conveying transparency. Unfortunately, it also strips these brands of any personality when it becomes too sterile. However, this year, the pendulum is starting to swing in the other direction as a direct reaction.
When everyone moves to this level of simplicity, designers counter it with some embellishment. Very expressive logos are making a comeback, which is a direct result of nostalgia or reboots. We’ve seen it played out on the big screen in Ready Player One and on the small screen in Stranger Things. There’s a thirst for nostalgia and this hearkening to past decades. Designers are dusting off their old font folders, going back to designs that were popular in the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s. Letters with big, expressive serifs, similar to a man having a mustache — it’s an added embellishment that changes the viewer’s perspective, perhaps recalling a different time period, but done in a uniquely new way, with modern influences. Millennials are most responsible for bringing these trends back into play, and you see it everywhere with the resurgence of tiki bars and speakeasys, and custom products like shaving kits for men. By going backwards, you can pick and choose what you want to bring forward and blend it with contemporary aesthetics. I’ve seen a lot of brands doing this successfully, and I think it’s just the beginning.
Color expectations have also changed dramatically. Because color mostly lives onscreen, there is a greater intensity in color range because it’s being projected. Colors are merging and blending, and gradients are now part of our color dialogue. A lot of this has to do with apps like Instagram — which, in fact, has a gradation as part of its logo. That’s an extreme example, because it runs the gamut from yellow to pink to purple, but most gradients are very subtle like red shifting toward red-orange, in essence making a new color. People now recognize gradients as colors. This is a trend that will continue to shift and grow.
All three of these movements work together as nostalgia swings the pendulum through different decades and influences color choice and customization. You’ll see a vast array of these examples throughout the report.
It’s important to note that trend is not a bad word, and it doesn’t equate to trendy, as in here today, gone tomorrow. The logos featured here are on the outer-edge, influencing the next big thing. Much of it is experimental, which ultimately pushes design to the next evolution. We all live by trends — whether it’s fashion, food, or design. We like them and we adopt them because they make life more diverse and fun, even as they evolve and change. The key takeaway from this is not to imitate, but to find a way to push these ideas forward and make them your own.