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CURRENT LOGO TRENDS

By Bill Gardner for the LogoLounge

Trend-watching, until recently, has largely been an exercise in watching connections


form between direct associations. Photoshop releases a new filter, and voila - entire
raft of logos take on that effect. A particular illustration style is featured in a
successful advertising campaign or movie, and in what seems like minutes, the
flavor of that art starts to enhance corporate identities.

Periodically, something truly surprising and unexpected pops up. Finding those little
treasures are one of the great perks of categorizing 27,000 logos, as LogoLounge
and a talented panel of judges just did in preparation for our fourth book. But
there's always that natural undercurrent of influence that touches this design and
that, a drift of scent, a faint change in air temperature. It's there, but almost not.

This year, however, it seems as though there has been a change in the nature of
trends themselves. Instead of a hub-to-spoke relationship in which trends fan out
from a central source, prevailing tendencies in logo design now seem to send out
long underground runners that poke through the dirt in unrelated, unexpected
places, anywhere in the world. It's harder and harder to trace the rhizomatous
spread of ideas anymore - which truly is a good thing.

What follows are 15 trends that have indeed popped up all over the world.
Overcasting them all are prevailing winds that are worth noting first:

We saw less emphasis on sustainability or general "greenness" in logo


design. There's plenty of natural imagery, but being "green" doesn't seem
all that unique anymore.

Colors are becoming more vivid. Desaturation has drained away, and the
chroma factor pumped up.

There's an overall move toward cleanliness - in type, in line, in color - as if


ideas are getting more and more succinct. It may be an indication of the
degree of seriousness with which branding is now regarded.

Less is more common: less calligraphy, less Photoshop tricks, less artificial
highlights.

Found pattern and illustration hang on and on and on. With a bottomless
treasure chest of visual history constantly at the ready through retail
collections and over the internet, it's a direction that's not likely to run its
course soon, if ever.

And now, the trends. Please remember that they are gathered here to chart
long-term movement or change, not to offer design suggestions. It's a living
history. The key is to study the trends, then evolve forward - as far forward as you
can leap - from them.

Supernova

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Imagine what astrophysicists would label a supernova or the eruption and attendant
explosion of a star. In a light show reminiscent of the jump to hyperdrive in the
original Star Wars, these logos attack the challenge of motion head on. For years
we've seen marks that have created the impression of motion from a profile
perspective using streaks or blurs to signify speed.

These examples drive a field of elements toward or away from the viewer using a
variety of methods. The LodgeNet logo (by Jerry Kuyper) advertises the company's
in-room movie service by flying a picture at you with a smart explosive technique.
This blast is simple in construction and void of halftone - particularly interesting
considering the product is an online commodity that could easily have justified
overboard solutions replete with RGB trickery.

1. Jerry Kuyper for LodgeNet 2. Gabi Toth for Halo Consulting 3. Crave Inc. for IQ Beverage
Group 4. Mirko Ilic Corp. for Dr. Zoran Djindjic Fund

Fine Line

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Consistency of line weight is one of the tenants of good logo design. It builds
rhythm and ensures legibility at first glance. Forget this rule for this category. Turn
your line weight down to hairline and start drawing. Most of these logos live on two
levels: first glance, and then second glance, with reader glasses. Typically, a
heavier image with message one serves as a background field. The more profound
message two is generally encrypted over the top of or knocked out of the heavier
image.

Fine strokes weights may read as no more than pattern initially, but they can also
carry the dichotomy of a counter message. A variation on this is the use of linear art
en masse to create enough weight to define a message as in the PULSE logo. This
yin yang process tends to captivate the viewer and lends a sense of intelligence to a
mark that doesn't require a hammer to impart a subtle message.

1. Louis Fili for The Mermaid Inn 2. Hula + Hula for Cartoon Network Lainamerica 3. Unit for
Artists for Peace 4. Point Blank Collection for Pulse

FoldOver

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Imagine being asked to design a logo with a long strip of paper as your only tool.
These quasi origami style solutions craft out a sense of dimensionality despite
staying relatively flat. The material from which these are created range from (but
are not limited to) transparent film, metal, and paper. There seems to be a message
of cleverness and economy of stroke in many of these.

Sometimes the simplicity of the folds takes on additional meaning when the
substrates demonstrate unique properties. Note how the opposite side of the
material changes to a different color at every fold in the TURN logo. Or see how
transparency enforces the visual overlap of material. In some ways, this technique
creates a bit of a puzzle effect. It engages the viewer as it tempts them into tracing
out the path of the mark or trying to determine if the folds could really occur as
offered.

1. PMKFA for Yes King 2. Gardner Design for Liberty Capital 3. A3 Design for Urban
Architectural Group 4. Addis Creson for Turn

Global Expansion

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What a refreshing outlook this trend presents. Time was that any company involved
in international commerce gave some passing consideration to a globe as their logo.
It's a solution that has become terribly challenging to address with an original
perspective. These logos at least have the honesty to step back and say, "Hey, we
may not be fully global yet, but give us time." All of these marks rely on a centric
pattern that diminishes at the edge and then warps out to wrap the sphere in
symbolic expansion.

Cato Purnell Partner's diverse group of solutions for Dubai Airport succinctly
communicates a key message. Commerce, travel, and tourism have made Dubai a
true crossroad for international travelers, and this world-class logo has found a
unique way to express the point. Using the Islamic sacred symbol of an octagram,
or eight-pointed star, the logo starts to envelope the global sphere with its
spreading tile mosaic. The dissemination of a culture is no accidental message in
this mark.

1. Lippincott for XOHM 2. Cato Purnell Partners for Dubai International 3. Futurebrand BC&H
for Transpiratininga 4. FIRON for Novatel

Loops

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Continuous bands, yes, but not all of these marks have that certain mojo of the
Mobius strip. Moving away from the universal sign of infinity, this group of logos
seems to celebrate the flow of a closed cycle. No doubt more than a few rubber
bands were called into action for their modeling services, but a ribbon-like figure
was not mandatory.

There is something personal about the lack of perfect symmetry displayed here. The
flexible nature of these logos signifies the ability to transform to meet the needs of
the moment. Some appear to be snapshots of motion captured in a millisecond, of
an object tense with energy.

The Peugeot 307 loop reflects the profile of that specific car but also seems to hover
weightlessly above the ground. The chromed appearance of the mark takes on a
surrealistic quality while conveying a certain technical prowess as well.

1. Lippincott for IBM & Freescale 2. Angelini Design for Peugeot International 3. Miriello
Grafico, Inc. for Qualcomm 4. Double Brand for Long term car rent

Jawbreakers

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Anyone who's ever torn up his or her mouth grazing on a jawbreaker or Gobstopper
can attest to the concentric rainbow displayed on a perfect cross-section of the
confection. There is a certain childhood joy associated with the perfect cleaving of
these orbs that is akin to discovering hidden treasure. The 70's op-art quality of
these marks is accomplished with little regard for a reserved palette. Generally,
brilliant color is a must and often cross-sections are as unique as Technicolor
snowflakes.

There is a youthfulness to these logos that addresses a certain vitality in the


market. You can't help but smile at the visual joy they seem to capture. Influences
could include Target's inventive use of its own logo in marketing efforts, although
the red and white of their mark seems sedate in comparison to examples shown
here.

1. Form for Dazed & Confused/Topshop 2. MacLaren McCann Calgary for Telphonic 3. Volatile
for Antidote 4. Volatile for Pod

Strobe

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Animation in the static environment of print is challenging at best, but with some
sequential stop-motion images, a solution is at hand. Remember those flip-books
that with a riffle played out a short animation? Now, take the images, place them on
a single surface, and this is the result. These marks have a slinky-like, fluid nature
that lends a graceful aesthetic to their associated companies.

The Nikon logo crafted by Interbrand some years ago may have signaled the
introduction of this process with a major brand. Sprint's adoption of Lippincott's
logo, a representation of the stop-motion animation of pin dropping, opened the
gates for deeper exploration and solutions in a similar vein. Nokia Siemens' new
animated logo, created by Moving Brands, successfully plays out the strobe concept
when adapted to print.

1. Interbrand for Nikon 2. Moving Brands for Nokia Siemens Networks 3. Lippincott for UMW 4.
Lippincott for Sprint

Nimbus

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Shield your eyes and pull out the 30 spf sunblock. It's not a sunburn you'll fear, but
you may need to protect yourself from overly bright ideas. There is a certain
glorification associated with all of these marks. The central core of the image is
usually a bright tunnel out of which great light emanates. If this sounds a bit like
the parting of clouds and the appearance of deities, you may not be far off.

Dissemination of light or energy by the use of rays is far more than an astral aura.
This indicates a central subject or capability and the prospect that it holds the key
or the solution to whatever the question is. Light also connotes knowledge and
guidance. Even distribution of these spokes ensures a fairness of distribution and
equality of access. As a moth will attest, there is an attracting radiance to these
logos, regardless of color.

1. Gardner Design for Catalyst 2. Glitschka Studios for Proctor & Gamble 3. Circulodiseno, SC
fr New Venturees 4. Chris Herron Design for Marimon Inc. & Kelly Swofford Roy

Stitch

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Over the last several years, designers have taken refuge with a variety of
appropriated patterns. Design backgrounds have become shrines for wallpaper
swatches, Victorian patterns, organic flora, faux wood grains and any other
rococo-retro surface that is not nailed down or otherwise copyrighted.

Houndstooth and herringbone aside, designers on more boutique projects are


dipping into their grandmothers' baskets of sundries and notions. This is often not
as much about textile patterns as it is about the elements that hold a garment
together. Zig zag, whip, and cross-stitch are a few of the strokes in the sewing
arsenal. Bric-a-brac, fishnet, fringe, and tassels are also working their way into
these solutions. This common language of mundane elements takes on a refreshing,
often feminine beauty when layered together with great taste. Just remember that
the difference between a tablecloth and a haute couture gown is not the material,
but knowing what to do with it.

1. The Woodbine Agency for Lamp 2. tenn_do_ten for chico 3. The Pink Pear Design Company
for Rummage 4. Hammerpress for Natasha's Mulberry & Mott

Colorblind

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Sometimes clusters of a logo technique surface with little if any rationale. For this
bracket, it's as if National Geographic just reported the recent unearthing of a series
of Ishihara color plates for color blind testing. The influence is obvious but the
timing is unexplained. You have to admire the chutzpah of a client willing to adopt a
logo that 7% of the male population and 0.4% of women won't be able to
understand.

Maybe this is exactly the point. These marks represent a quirkiness associated with
entities that only a certain percent of the population will be able to really appreciate.
Even for individuals without color blindness, these visuals can be a bit challenging to
decipher. But that adds to their mystique and helps to build affinity for the logos
when the viewer realizes he has passed the test. Either way, there is a joyful,
reminiscent charm at work here - either that or this report is entirely wrong and
these companies all sell Dippin' Dots ice cream.

1. Colorblind Chameleon - Self Promotion 2. Range for Dennis Murphy 3. Pearpod for Razoo 4.
Cricket Design Works for Creme Cafe

Amoeba

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These are soft, inflated blobs without any sharp corners to fall and hurt yourself on.
Their friendly shapes are generally unstructured and much like an amoeba under
the lens of an electron microscope, fluid and in motion. Amoeba comes from the
Greek word amoibe, meaning to change, and this trend is about flux. The elements
that compose these logos are anything but static. You can imagine a relationship
between the parts of a logo as if they have just divided from one another.

This process of morphing and motion give us a clue about the structure and
processes of the businesses represented here. Flexibility and an agile nature allow
businesses to adapt in mercurial industries. These are entities that embrace the
value of evolution. If you're evolving, chances are you're a living organism, and
there aren't too many of those with corners.

1. Tactix Creative for DJ Eddie Amador 2. Double Brand for Poza Showroom 3. Mola for EDP 4.
Yaroslav Zheleznyakov for Promotion

Facets

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Ali Baba and the 40 thieves knew what mattered in a cavern laden with
jewel-encrusted treasure. In these precious gems, there is an intrinsic value of
which legends are crafted. Whose eyes are not stopped by the alluring refractions of
a precious bobble? What a perfect substance from which to carve an identity.

To create the greatest value in a material as base as a stone, one has to first
recognize potential worth. With exacting efforts, a trained eye can cut away the
precise amount that will best maximize value. All of this is done with the looming
specter of complete failure if the action is not correct. With great risk comes great
reward.

These logos can also address the multifaceted nature of a business. By arranging
these facets in their optimal positions you create the greatest clarity and light. Or
maybe it's not that deep and we just like bright and shiny things.

1. Kitsh for Clay Saphire 2. Thomas Manss & Company for VCC Perfect Pictures 3. Gardner
Design for Lavish 4. BFive for Solo Company

Doodles

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There is a base honesty to an image that has never been shoved in one side of a
computer and back out the other. There is still some soul attached to the mark and
even a little sweat and blood from the originator. No attempt is being made to
deceive the consumer and certainly there was no upper level management
committee to quash the innocence of the humbly crafted logo.

Immediacy is an important justifier for these marks as well. The Rebuild logo,
developed after Hurricane Katrina sends the message, these people need your help
now. There is no time to finesse a corporate solution to the problem here: We need
the help and response of everyone, and we need it now.

Personal messages and a sense of humanity are associated with these marks. It is
the assurance the middleman has been cut out, and that this message is between
me and you and no one else.

1. Steve's Portfolio for www.thehurricaneposterproject.com 2. Stubborn Sideburns for


Hipposchemes 3. Fifth Letter for Shawn Lynch 4. Studio Oscar for Levi Strauss

Flourish

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Take a piece of relatively unassuming typography, water and fertilize with insane
pixie dust, and let it grow. These logos could be relatives of the Flora and Embellish
trend identified over the last two years, but they are definitely about type on
steroids. Imagine type with hair that has been coiffed for fashion week in a Fellini
movie.

Credit the stunning work of Si Scott and the unbridled design of Marian Bantjes as
primary influences on this work. Scott specifically has developed a signature look
that is being emulated a bit too close for comfort, in some instances.

Decorative flourishes gone wild identify these entities: They give more than you
anticipate and are conscious of the frills and excesses necessary to carry you to
satisfaction. These designs are exoticand unexpected but with enough whimsy to
avoid being overtly feminine.

1. Lucero Design for Project 240 Apparel 2. United* for Bar Carrera NY 3. Team Manila Graphic
Design Studio for Neu Media 4. Distrubancy Graphic Treatment for Eclipse Streetwear

Fibrous

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Twisting threads travel in tandem or are spun together to form a twine with even
greater strength. Or you see the tendrils of a vine traveling outward from a single
source. Maybe it's the ebb and flow of a rhythmic group of fine fibers acting in
concert to create the illusion of a solid mass. These are just of few of the
descriptions that help define this category.

A collective acting in unison to maximize action and create strength in numbers is at


the heart of these logos. These are not lines in perfect step with one and other.
Unlike the grooves of a record, these elements show a degree of independence and
celebrate the diversity of the components as they unite.

Uniting elements for a common good has become a prevalent theme of late. This
trend transcends the corporate world and is seen in social efforts as well. Respect of
individuality and honor of uniqueness are admirable pursuits.

1. Guillermo Brea & Associates for Argentina 2. Najlon for Town RIJEKA 3. Mattson Creative
for The Collective 4. AtomicasStudio for 2 excite

Minor Trends
Some categories emerged this year that did not qualify for their own lanes, but
which are still worthy of mention.

Animotion: What makes these designs unique is


that they are designed to be in motion. They are not
static designs that were juiced up later. You can
view some excellent examples in action at
www.LogoLounge.com.

Moving Brands for Swisscom

Braille Words: Imagine words, numbers, or letters


formed out of Braille-like dots.

Pearpod for Plus 3

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Stacks: These logos are like transparent
sandwiches that have shape stacked upon shape
upon shape.

Bukka Design for Neven Vision

Contact Drop: If a contact lens dropped on top of a


logo, you'd have the same effect that these logos
have. They are generally lens- or circular in shape
with a hard outer edge and a soft inner edge. Think
of the Barrack Obama logo.

FutureBrand for MasterCard Worldwide

Psyche Type: If you want to know what is going to


happen in any kind of design, look back to what
was happening 30 years ago. It's a never-ending
merry-go-round of style. Witness the groovin'
psychedelic type treatments that are so popular
today. It's Haight-Ashbury all over again.

Yaroslav Zheleznyakov for Lemonades from Arbuzov

Pathways: There are also plenty of motion lines to


be seen, going up and down, back and forth, or
around and around. These are like tracers —
sometimes transparent like light, bouncing around
or bending in space. The Tennis Australia logo is
an excellent example. Where the ball goes, the
logo goes.

FutureBrand (UK) for Lakshmi N. Mittal

Warped: If you take a gridded piece of paper and


start to fold or twist it, the printed grid will begin to
conform to whatever motion you're applying. But in
this category of logos, the substrate is more pliable,
more flexible than paper. There's more give and
stretch, so that lines on the x and y axis become
contorted.

thackway+mccord for FINRA

Finally, it's worth noting that there's a reasonably reliable place to look every day
for the very latest in logo design (in addition, to LogoLounge.com, that is):
television promo graphics for any of the major "style" channels — Food Network,
Discovery, HGTV, the Travel Channel, and more. Because they have the money and
the ability to get work out there quickly, the channels tend to be progressive
forecasters and trendsetters. And designers, just like the rest of the unwashed
masses, are home on the couch, watching.

Bill Gardner is principal of Gardner Design and creator of LogoLounge.com, a unique


web site where, in real-time, members can post their logo design work; study the
work of others; search the database by designer's name, client type, and other
attributes; learn from articles and news written expressly for logo designers; and
much more. Bill can be contacted at bill@logolounge.com.

2008 Logolounge Inc.

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