New year, new logo? From vintage and retro to minimal and animated, this decade has seen brands embrace an eye-pleasing mix of styles to get their message across. We’ve called on the expertise of graphic designer Emily Burchill, director of Grey Rabbit Design, and graphic and web designer Millie Cooper, director of Design By Mouse, to talk us through the 2020 logo trends that are making their mark.
In the article below we tap into the latest logo trends but also explore the importance of a logo and how you can get the professional look for yourself.
Logos are how businesses make themselves known. They communicate what a brand does and who it’s for. They distinguish it from its competitors, establish a bond with customers and carry across signage, digital platforms, packaging - everything a brand touches - to tell one consistent, identifiable story.
The universally recognizable likes of McDonald’s, Apple and Nike have shown us that logos can be iconic. While they might undergo subtle changes as a brand evolves, great logos will stand the test of time.
So, if longevity is the aim, why are we looking at trends?
Here’s the thing. The art of logo design is constantly changing, but its fundamental principles remain the same. A logo must capture the purpose and personality of a brand. It must be instantly recognizable. It needs to be versatile and scalable. It has to be timeless.
Once you’ve nailed the fundamentals, design elements such as color, shape and font are like icing on the cake. If it truly reflects a company’s identity, a trending style can elevate a logo out of the crowd and capture attention - especially from those with an eye for design.
On that note, let’s hand over to Emily and Millie. Here they’ll guide us through 2020’s logo trends and show us how they can keep a brand fresh and relevant for years to come.
“I’ve always loved a vintage style logo,” says Emily. “Think ’80s and older. This can be neon and 8-bit style to woodcut illustration paired with strong, balanced typography. Nostalgic and fun, a new business with a retro or vintage logo can look like they’ve been around for years - in a good way - giving instant familiarity.” In recent months, Emily has noticed restaurants and cafes adopting this style, “which really adds to the comfort of having a meal with loved ones and friends”.
As customers increasingly visit a business via its website and social media platforms, animated logos are all the more popular. “They have a distinct advantage because they immediately catch the customer’s eye,” says Millie. “A playful or dynamic logo ensures you create an excellent first impression on your target audience. For example, cartoon animation shows you’re a friendly brand, while an elegant animation shows you’re creative. These dynamic images also help break the ice between brands and customers, encouraging a free flow of communication because brands appear more friendly or modern.”
According to Emily, line art logos are very much on trend. “Like a ballerina, this logo style can look graceful yet effortless but it takes a lot of finesse to create beautiful logos like these,” she says, and has seen many holistic and health-based businesses take this direction with their branding. “Clean and seemingly simple line drawings with a consistent weight are the perfect logomark to compliment type or stand alone. They transfer wonderfully to foil and embossing too, and are very striking in print.”
Brand mascots have been around for hundreds of years - and as far as Millie’s concerned, they’re still having a moment. “People like to see a human element in brands,” she says. “Customers love online shopping but also miss the personal, human interaction during transactions. Mascots bridge the gap and help people feel more connected.”
As Millie points out, mascots can evolve with your brand. “Just make sure the style is modern and can quickly adapt to changes,” she says, adding that minimalist and vintage design styles endure well. “A simple mascot with a great personality can become a long-term part of your brand identity.”
Emily explains that a muted color can be any color you like (blush, terracotta, mustard, sage green, dusty blue and lilac to name a few) so long as it’s desaturated with black or white. “These colors are friendly, calm and soft, yet create a visual impact for a brand,” she says.
“It’s hard to stop at one, so I’ve loved seeing brands with a strong white or mono logo use a consistent pallet of these shades as a background. This palette has been popular in the beauty and fashion world and has been dominating aesthetically-pleasing Instagram feeds too.”
Millie describes raw and organic logos as sketches, paintings, and hand-drawn images that deviate from the modern aesthetic. “Instead of clean lines, you have roughly sketched outlines that look more natural,” she says. “Hand-drawn logos convey an image of authenticity and genuine interest.”
A perfect fit for small business and artisan offerings, Millie says this style is a welcome departure from our highly digitized culture. “Instead of a clean computer graphic, customers are treated to a flowing painting or sketch that looks more personal and unique.”
Triangles are out and circles are in, according to Emily. “Triangles were almost too trendy at one point and now tend to look dated; but circles seem to prove year after year just how timeless they are.” That said, she notes that circular styles are taking new forms. “The humble circle has been reworked as a text path rather than a solid shape, which refreshes and modernises this logo shape favourite,” she says. “It’s prevalent in corporate style businesses but easily adapted to suit smaller and niche companies.”
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Minimalism is here to stay and, according to Millie, is one of the safest and most effective logo design styles. “Minimalism continues to thrive in 2020 because it is so simple but comes with a clear message,” she says, mentioning Nike and Apple’s logos as good examples. “It is a very stress-free design that is perfectly suitable for businesses that want to focus on functionality and practicality.”
Think minimalist means boring and inflexible? Think again. “Minimal designs include clean lines, elegant curves, circular shapes, square patterns, and so much more,” says Millie. “As long as you exercise restraint, it is easy to turn just about every image into a minimalist sketch.”
Emily has some advice for those jumping on the serif font trend: “Don’t be afraid to go thick! Not only practical from a legibility perspective, a bold serif logo with subtle curves is just that; bold, strong and distinct,” she says. “It shows confidence and self-assurance creating a trustworthy brand. Character and individuality can be added by playing with ball terminals and calligraphy tails but the timelessness of the serif will always be a go-to for logo design. I’ve seen many graphic designers whom I admire use this style of logo for their own personal branding.”
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Millie explains that this style of logo involves incorporating an image that cleverly represents your brand with the company’s name or initials. “For example, if a company’s name is Mighty Pen, they may incorporate a fountain pen nib in the letter ‘M’.” Creative letters are currently popular as people like engaging and entertaining media - and who can resist an air of mystery?
“This style encourages people to focus on the logo and try to understand what it means,” Millie says. “The air of mystery appeals to a person’s imagination and has a big impact on the customer. These kinds of logos also give businesses a more playful personality, which can humanize the company. Once customers figure out the puzzle, they will remember the brand logo for a long time.”
Trending styles can get those creative juices flowing and inspire unique designs. As long as they ring true to a brand’s purpose and personality, the latest colors, fonts, shapes and forms can make for a unique, effective and successful logo.