It’s a little more than a month into the year, let's discuss logo design art direction in 2018.
TL:DR The complexity of logo and branding design makes it seem like anything and everything is possible and worth doing. And although the realm of creativity is basically infinite, logo and branding design in any given year seems to always follow trends. Perhaps it is human nature, but generally when something is implemented effectively there is always a string of copycats and imitators (thus creating trends). From a high level, these are some trends that I have seen developing over the past year that may finally be making a solid impact in the logo design community this year.
K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid)
I hesitate to call this a trend as this is a defining principle of being a competent designer. It was hammered into my head throughout design school; Simplify, Simplify and then Simplify some more. But I digress, basically keeping logo design simple is a way of approaching logo design that I don’t see going away anytime soon. A big example from the past year I can remember would be the MasterCard logo revamp (pictured above, on the right). In terms of logo design trends of 2018 I imagine this thought process will definitely be making some waves as larger, established brands see how much they can remove while still maintaining brand consistency.
Continuing on the trend of simplicity is taking the concept of form to that same level. Focusing on the most basic geometric shapes (squares, circles & triangles) and using them to convey the brand’s feel. These can be combined with use of strong negative space to convey a variety of forms, from simple symbols and letterforms to containers and lockups for the logo itself. Building these abstract shapes with branding elements can help convey a bold, iconic logo that is easy to remember.
Modern Classical (AKA Hipster Design)
Recycling ideas and concepts from the past isn’t exactly a new idea when it comes to design or art in general, but it has definitely seen a resurgence as of late. This is probably due to the trendiness of artisanal type shops, stores and other specialty places frequented by what are known as hipsters. Some classic examples of this logo are monograms with interlinking letters and hand drawn custom typographic treatments. Basically, what is old is new again, and this variety of logo is characterized in style by the products it routinely represents, hand-crafted and elegant in design. To add to the hand-crafted feel, designers will often build the tools by hand to replicate the logo, for instance cutting a rubber stamp or wood block to use when creating brand collateral.
Will Gradients Ever Die?
Gradients have been used by designers in logo design for a long time, but the trend is how they are used. Initially, they were used to show depth and to replicate three-dimensional space in two dimensions, but that evolved into using gradients basically just as a way to jam additional colors from the spectrum into a logo. In 2018 I envision the direction of gradients moving (hopefully) towards a more muted palette, again trying to focus on depth of form and not just color gimmicks. A strong logo and brand should have a strong form and not rely on shnazzy colors to draw the customers in, otherwise the logo risks falling to the wayside as trends move on.
Logo trends are defined by what the large consumer brands are doing or innovative exciting concepts that are latched onto by the masses. So look to the large brands to predict how things are going to be moving creatively as people tend to jump onto the bandwagon. Also, I’m not trying to say this is 100% certain how things will shake out, this is just a prediction based on what I’ve seen the industry moving towards.