A great logo is the calling card of the design world—it makes a statement about a business or product while incorporating the brand name you want people to remember. If it’s a spectacular example of logo innovation, it also represents what the company is all about while reflecting the look and feel of current design trends.
This is where logo design becomes an art form: how does a designer maintain the integrity of a brand’s recognizable image while updating it (or reworking it altogether) to embrace a modern and relatable aesthetic? The first step is learning what parameters the current trends include and understanding what they implicitly say about a brand.
2016 saw many strong and compatible style trends emerge within the world of logo design. Modern minimalism—including clean lines, sans serif fonts and monochromatic designs—reigned supreme throughout the year and will probably continue to dominate the field well into 2017 . . . but more on that later. For now, suffice it to say that if a logo tells an instant story about a business, the entrepreneurs of 2016 want their stories to be straightforward and hassle-free. Other logo trends that top design companies have noticed are surges in the use of mountain silhouettes, water droplets and green tones, while vintage designs and the use of red tones seemed to be on the decline.
Below is a list of the main characteristics that took hold of logo design trends in 2016:
As mentioned above, a “less is more” feel has been capturing the eye of consumers in recent years, and the trend seems to be hunkering down for the long haul . . . for good reason! A minimalistic design denotes a no-nonsense vibe and tells a customer that your business will be easy to work with. It’s also a clear sign that you’re up on the look of the times, which is a necessity for companies in industries appealing to a younger, hipper demographic.
Sans serif fonts – Going along with the theme of simplicity and minimalism, sans serif fonts have claimed their place in the typography kingdom and have even begun to take a run at the throne. While decorative styles with a handwritten feel were inescapable throughout 2012 and 2013 (Bombshell Pro, anyone?), a bevy of fantastic—and free—selections now awaits anyone who wants to take advantage of this clean and streamlined look.
Geometric shapes – While we get into specifics below, it’s only right to acknowledge the role that strong and simple shapes have played in determining the look of logos in 2016. Whether being used to delineate between two-tone design elements or simply as the outline of a company’s monogram, bold geometric shapes are helping companies make a strong (yet simplistic) statement across the board. Again, in keeping with a theme of minimalism, these shapes say, “Here I am!” without being obnoxious about it.
Negative or white space – Nothing says “minimalism” like utilizing the white space on the page to help shape your design (the World Wildlife Fund logo is probably the most recognizable example of this technique). While this design choice certainly takes advantage of the minimalist mindset, it can also add more than a touch of intrigue, especially if the designer is clever about its incorporation into the branding.
2. BOLD SHAPES
Recognizable shapes not only serve the purpose of providing a comforting visual, but they also represent structure and efficiency. As an added bonus, their typically symmetrical nature lends itself further to a feeling of organization and the use of innovative design effects. Read on for a list of the most popular shapes in logo design from 2016 and what they connote to the average person:
Circles – Yes: we all know that, like a wedding ring, circles signify a unified entity with no beginning and no end. Their ability to conjure images of heavenly bodies, however, also adds to their feeling of movement and wholeness. Circles give a sense of power, unity, protection and love.
Shields – The obvious meaning here is strength and protection, but shields are much more diverse than that. They also summon images of tradition and honor, an excellent choice for companies with a long history or a desire to tout their strong reputation.
Locator signals – Design elements like arrows have been cropping up everywhere, including the campaign logos of the inescapable 2016 presidential election. Simple and straightforward, these symbols signify forward motion, courage, protection and defense.
Water droplets – Much like in literature, the water droplet represents purity, cleansing energy, and rebirth. It can also denote a “green” image for companies interested in manifesting an eco-conscious mindset.
Linked symbols – The first image that comes to mind is probably links in a chain, and that is exactly the feeling that linking is meant to conjure. By linking geometric shapes, designers create an essence of unity, commitment and strength.
3. SIMPLE YET ENGAGING EFFECTS
Since logo design trends took a turn for the decidedly less complicated toward the end of 2015, innovative effects that allow a logo to maintain its simplicity have become increasingly popular. These are the most widely-used effects of 2016:
Transparency – This effect is used to add texture, depth, and uniqueness to otherwise simplistic designs. It can also be used to add a feeling of flexibility and ease.
Ombré – Also used to add depth and texture to flat designs, ombré effects create a feeling of motion from one point to another or from one stage to the next, which is a very effective choice for companies touting change and growth.
Line art – Both solid and dashed lines of varying weights are being used to create eye-catching designs that involve intrigue and a feeling of hipster flair while offering an uncomplicated final product. While solid lines conjure images of neatness and retro vibes, lines composed from multiple dashes help create added dimension and a weight hierarchy, which adds a touch of movement and transparency to the logo.
Half and half – Many logos are taking advantage of two-tone designs by dividing symmetrical elements with color. This effect creates interest and a feeling of dimension without losing the clean minimalism that keeps a look modern and carefree.
Looping patterns/continuous loops – This is the effect that you picture when you think of infinity signs or the AirBNB logo. Often combined with transparency and geometric shapes to delightfully modern effect, this application signifies travel, flow, consistency, and repetition.
What’s in store for 2017?
As we move into the new year, designers will be looking for ways to advance the world of logo design by transitioning from an already extremely effective and attractive aesthetic. Because the trends of 2016 have been so successful, logo experts predict that we’ll see many of them not just surviving, but thriving into 2017, including minimalism, a simplified color palette, use of line art, and the incorporation of geometric shapes. In addition, though, we expect to see some emerging trends gain momentum over the next year:
Hand-drawn elements – Whether it be a return to the “handwritten” fonts of yesteryear or freehand-inspired backgrounds, freestyle elements have been enjoying a recent comeback and will likely continue to grow in popularity, especially amongst smaller businesses catering to the down-to-earth vibe of the free-spirited hipster generation.
Patterns – While minimalism will likely continue to guide the boundaries of these trends, an emergence of patterns and repetition is predicted as a response to the dominance of geometric shapes in recent logo design. Expect to see these shapes used in combination with bold colors to create intriguing yet clean patterns in 2017 logo designs.
Broken lettering – In keeping with the line art and line dash trends of 2016, broken lettering is emerging as the latest minimalist effort to capture the eye and lift designs off the page. You’ll see this trend being used in combination with half-and-half effects, transparency, and off-set lines to help create a feeling of flexibility and elevation in future logo design.
Cropping – Do you really need to see the entire picture to understand what it is? Not really . . . and this trend takes advantage of that notion, calling forth images of half-covered posters glued to urban building facades while forcing the viewer to imagine a design that extends beyond the page. This trend can be expected to pop up both in lettering and image rendering.
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