By Katie Lundin
Small businesses and startups have to compete in an increasingly noisy world, often against large, dominant businesses.
Customers who are just discovering your brand need something to remember you by, and your logo serves as a symbol of your business.
But not all logos are created alike. New design trends and fads in logo design appear every year.
Stripes, letter stacking, fades and geometric shapes were popular in logo design for 2017. Last year, monoline designs, negative space, and retro designs were all the rage.
But, which of these trends are worth following? And, which “trends” are really passing fads that will date your new logo in just a few years? After all, you want your logo to feel fresh and relevant for a long period of time, and not dated a year from now.
The truth is that not all logo trends are created equal. And, 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.
A good logo design must reflect your brand, and be memorable, unique, and timeless.
You should avoid trends 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 6 logo design trends that we think will be hot in 2018 (plus 2 trends that you should avoid).
The visual mark of a logo is often supported by text. Some logos (including crowdspring’s logo) are made-up entirely of text – these are called lettermarks or wordmarks.
But not any old text will do. You can’t just plop your business name under your logo mark in Times New Roman or Comic Sans (shudder) and call it a day.
Your typography should be as tuned in to your brand as the rest of your logo. And, creative typography continues to grow as we head into 2018. Here are just a few examples…
Split Typography – These fonts feature unexpected negative space (or splits) in the letters while maintaining the text’s readability. There are endless variations to play with here between the choice of the base font and placement of the splits.
Chaotic Typography – This dynamic typography effect features chaotic, non-linear placement of the letters. If you have a playful or casually dynamic brand, this may be a good choice for you.
Hand-effect Typography – Rather than the perfectly smooth, polished, and fancy looping scripts of yesteryear, hand-effect typography looks like it’s been written by hand. These can range from cursive scripts to crisp prints to playful block letters. Irregularity is the key to this effect.
These typography styles are on-trend now. 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.
The internet has changed the way that we interact with the world. It’s vital that businesses design their visual brand with this medium in mind.
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 big 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.
So, don’t be afraid to play with different options. Just keep it simple enough that it won’t cost you a fortune when you actually have to print your logo.
And, don’t forget that colors tug on our grey matter to produce different emotional results. For more about using psychology to influence customers, check out our previous article “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.
Geometric Line Art logos
Geometric shapes eternally float in and out of favor in the worlds of architectural, fashion and graphic design. Geometric line logos are popular and look set to continue on an uptrend heading into 2018.
Geometric designs are loved for their clean, elegant lines and timelessness. Geometric design done well can be a thing of beauty.
However, a simple geometric line design is not the one-size-fits-all answer that some people seem to believe it is.
Logos must be distinct. This is what allows us to visually identify a specific brand from the vast array of logos in the marketplace.
And your logo must also reflect your brand. This is where blindly following this geometric logo trend can fall short for your business.
There are only a handful of basic geometric shapes – squares, circles, triangles, diamonds… Even once you branch out into octagons, hectagons, parallelograms and the like, there still just 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 logo design” – indistinct, unremarkable, and communicating nothing about your brand.
If you choose to go with a geometric line logo, make sure your choice supports and reflects your brand identity.
Social Media Optimized logo design
Social media continues to offer a valuable marketing platform for businesses big and small, all around the world. So, it should come as no surprise that social media-friendly logos are “in” for 2018. But what exactly does this mean?
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! What we are suggesting is 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.
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.
Monogram and single letter logos are classics. And, as we head into 2018, their endless popularity continues unabated.
Unfortunately, letter and monogram logos can be incredibly hard to make unique.
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. But, unless your brand has already had time to get established, that’s unlikely. And a monogram – unless it’s really well executed – doesn’t tell consumers much of anything about your brand.
To 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.
As we head into 2018 we’ve noticed a trend that we’re really 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 logo design itself. But, it’s a really valuable practice!)
Many designers are now providing mocked-up visuals of their logo designs on a business card, stationery 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, 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 to better understand how to visually communicate their brand beyond their logo. This may also influence their perception of what their brand might look like once fully realized.
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 as well. A practice that serves the client and the designer is always a trend we want to support!
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.”
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 completely 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 for designing swooshy people logos and you should avoid stock art at all costs in logo design.
Don’t be lured in by the swooshy person’s bright colors or faceless relatability. 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 logo. Actually, you NEED a unique logo.
Steer clear of the swooshy person trap, lest your logo be confused with every other swooshy person logo out there.
Pixellated Designs (avoid!)
Technology defines our contemporary culture; so much so 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 80’s and 90’s. 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 difficult 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 to always 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 trends on logo design 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.
The crowdspring community (over 210,000 graphic, web and product designers) has helped many entrepreneurs, small businesses, and agencies design unique and memorable brand-centric logos, for a fraction of the cost those companies and agencies would otherwise pay.
Katie Lundin: Katie is a problem solver, writer, teacher and reluctant video game enthusiast. In her spare time Katie fought for the Union at the Battle of Gettysburg in 2003. She has also created marathon fashion for a super villain, a horde of alien fashionistas, and a magical dress that transforms from rags to rococo riches before your very eyes.