I was recently asked to reflect back on the past 20 years of the LogoLounge Trend Report. How has it shaped the way I design? What has the impact been on me personally? What came to mind was a phrase I often use, but that others seldom understand: “It’s more important to know how you got there than to know where you are.”
Clearly, it IS important to know where you are. I’m not suggesting everyone wander around lost (although that’s sometimes a necessary part of the creative process). What I am saying is that two decades and 380,000 logos later, it’s still just as important as ever to do. the. work. A great logo transcends the trends. And I’m talking about the core definition, the Latin roots: trans (across) + scandere (climb).
As trends build momentum, swing from one extreme to the other, they leave a mark. A tangible foothold. A place to grab onto and navigate as you climb. And when you reach the summit, the beautiful views of a place where you’ve nailed the design, it’s breathtaking. When I look at a logo, I know when a designer came up with it because they did the research and foundation work–and when someone just copied something they thought was cool.
We’ve never had so much information yet so little context. It’s not hard to jump online and summon a certain logo or a specific designer or topic you have in mind. But what you’re “fed” (that’s why they call it a feed, you know), is more than likely in a closed loop of things you’re already familiar with. And conversely, when you try to intentionally jump out of your bubble you find yourself swimming in such a random pool that you could drown just filtering it down to anything that resonates.
The LogoLounge Trend Report opens our minds to possibilities that are relevant, real, and grounded in our collective psyche.
The reason the LogoLounge Trend Report has become so valuable to the design community is that it opens our minds to possibilities that are relevant, real, and grounded in our collective psyche. It is the place where that sea of content has been filtered down and given context. Savvy designers have a voracious appetite to see what’s influencing our field and this report has become their pilgrimage not because they’ll agree or even like everything they see. But because it’s an unvarnished forecast that is based on reality and delivered with context.
LogoLounge members gain access to more than 380,000 exceptional logos, all highly contextualized and searchable, where you can explore for inspiration and take an even deeper dive into your own trend discovery. You can look back on two decades of these reports and start to identify design trajectory and evolutionary clues of your own—places to reach for and explore as you climb ever closer to your design destination.
Only when you grasp the trends… can you transcend.
There’s a stronger effort to find ways to identify products that are artisanal and handcrafted.
And while there are still corporate-looking marks being crafted there is a stronger effort to find ways to identify products that are artisanal and handcrafted. We crave human touch, and humans are, after all, flawed. Things like mugs, rugs, and cookies are good for handmade marks—chainsaws and wiper blades not so much. Hand crafted pattern, naive badges, and hand-drawn type and symbols all have a place, and more one-of-a-kind products want this.
There’s much effort still being made to stay biofriendly and eco-sensitive in symbolism and materials being used. Trellis with dappled use of flora is one approach, and even whiplash with its return to the aesthetics of Art Nouveau–a blending of 1910s/1960s/2020s but without the psychedelia palettes of the 60’s. The applications are classed up a little using more restrained color, even when the sinuous variable weight lines are promoting a cannabis product. Interestingly, there’s still a huge amount of design trying to bully its way into some visual corner of ownership in the CBD market and pressing the confidence and medically tested aesthetic in an industry that is the wild west reincarnate.
More often the logo is playing a subordinate role in the visual vocabulary adopted by organizations. The logos and wordmarks are still great but they play second chair to pattern, color, texture and especially type that has become much more expressive in application. Even motion and sound have become considerations for even the smallest of brands living in a digital world. Whether a sonic logo like the one-note of Taco Bell, Mac, Sony, or Xbox, or the two tones of Netflix—they’ve become synonymous with the logo.
That ability to build memorability and bonding connections with a public are multiplied with the addition of every sensory touchpoint we include. Sound and animation have few borders that linguistics do. They convey personality and confidence as part of a package and we can absorb—whether we are listening from the kitchen or engaged in a brand conversation.
As ever there are the anomaly clusters of logos that tend to defy logic. In our evaluation there were exuberant arrays of exquisitely rendered roosters, hotdogs and Trojans, if that’s not a telling trifecta. A few too many anchors and fishing hooks tried to wedge their way into our visual vernacular and a menagerie of animals were given flags on poles and enlisted to parade their allegiance, or unceremoniously lopped in half. (I’ll take the flag please.)
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01 | Logo Trend
Bass Ale was the first ever registered trademark with its red triangle. A seminal moment for our industry but an oddity in so much as the triangle has always been a bit of an outlier shape for logos.
The shape is hard, sharp, associated with yield and warnings of every pedigree, and only ever stable when parked on its butt. Iconically it is effusively packed with symbolism depending on how you rotate it from play, to up, to down, to spiritual, to change incarnate as a delta. So imagine if you will the stability that occurs when fusing together a pair of these point to point as we’ve seen happen enumerable times over the last year.
From an outline perspective these create the pathway of a rectilinear infinity symbol or a lemniscate if you want to get all proper in terminology. Throw that word into any client conversation to buy a bit more cred. These pairings build a foundation and strong stability and magic happens at the confluence of the two elements. This is where two entities become more powerful, or where one shares its knowledge with others. It’s where optically something is brought into focus and inverted to make it legible. Take special note that horizontally it is a sign of infinite time and vertically it’s an hour glass– your time is near the end. What a difference 90º makes.
02 | Logo Trend
What’s in a drop? A single drop of water… of blood… of oil or vanilla or medicine.
And although it takes 480 drops for one fluid ounce, a child’s tear drop can crush a parent’s heart. All of which show how impactful this trend can be when framed in a proper brand story. There is absolutely nothing new to the use of a drop or two or more in a logo design. It’s one of the quickest ways to indicate liquid or water and more than useful in discussing ecology and our environmental resources. But this report found designers taking a different perspective on the importance of that single drop.
These look every bit the oral inspection and the uvula hanging properly at the back of the throat. Here, drops have been raised to a level of high regard, encased in an informative frame, prepared to provide context to the client’s story. You might also note the drops are still connected to their source as if captured in the act of being precious. Let’s say one is an eyedrop for your contacts or allergies and another looks to be fresh squeezed OJ. And you decide… is one of these drops going to either extinguish or ignite that flame. Be prepared for a reaction as soon as gravity acts and any of these droplets break free.
03 | Logo Trend
Symbolism is all about taking reality and knocking it down to a representational simplicity.
Trying to iconify the complexity of the roots of a tree can really destroy some brain cells. It’s probably why most designers just turn the tree upside down and call it a day. The inside workings of nature with roots, veins and capillaries or God forbid digital root structures of circuitry can leave a designer curled up in a corner sobbing like a child. Between Fibonacci’s, fractals, and fibrous tectonics, We can see that nature has a plan and it’s here that designers are now starting to break that symbolic code.
Two of these marks have crafted a visual field language that could be referred to as highly organized chaos. By using an angular orthographic grid to chart nature’s course these designs display consistency in angles and spacing as well as avoiding glaring pockets in the pattern’s field. Divergently, the C and R marks take a no less successful tact but are avoiding a formulaic approach to creating that same patch of nature’s lifelines. Each of these marks demonstrate just how insidious nature, or a client might be at making every attempt to capture, maintain, and nurture life. They confirm for us that complex is not a challenge but can be virtuous and productive.
04 | Logo Trend
1820, and the world was awash in Didot and Bodoni style fonts with thick verticals and vapor thin horizontals.
That was the way type was meant to be! So when a craftsman at William Caslon’s type foundry created a parody font called Italian and reversed the letter stress, mayhem ensued. Brandishing fat grotesquely engorged horizontals and verticals that were thin spindly pikes, this folly was tantamount to heresy. As it began to illicit favor, enlisted as a display font on posters, other foundries followed suit with their own iterations. A notable editorial referred to these as typographic monstrosities. Spoiler alert… the monster is ALIVE and thriving in this report.
A novelty font at best but that counter distribution of weight turned type into a hedonistic, anti-academic, forbidden pleasure. Don’t look away! With a reinvigorated fan base, variations started to re-percolate from 60’s and 70’s archives and a newly infatuated cadre of type designers. Boiling into the visual brand arena, now it’s a challenge to cross a room without stepping on a wordmark or two with a heavy top and fat bottom. Doubtful these logos will be gracing the conservative c-suites of industry but they have a niche that assures the consumer base, this brand will be your sidekick if you’re looking for a good time.
05 | Logo Trend
Five years since an avalanche of Spartan sans serif wordmarks lay waste to generations of brand equity, there are brand crafters still cowering in fear as this torrent has yet to subside.
Though the blanding wave led to some stunning visual assets for those that knew what was occurring, many of this ilk fell prey to “me too” as a counter to FOMO. In an ambiguous reaction, this year’s collection of wordmarks are stilted with abundant sans serif solutions to stay on the safe side but with an insertion of whimsy or a visual gesture of self-defiance like a humorless MBA attempting to demonstrate spontaneity.
Note Angi, Upwork, and Tailwind, all determined to demonstrate a freedom of spirit or a human quality by inserting a flowing line of equal monoline weight. All of these succeed but they are merely the tip of the iceberg for scores of logos that embraced one loopy character as the mouthpiece for an otherwise straight up gathering of letters. Yet a few of these free coiling linear characters broke off on their own this year. Whether in monograms paired up with straightlaced wordmarks or the occasional reunion of loopy free spirits like seen in the well-received mark for camp.
06 | Logo Trend
There’s a beautiful yet occasionally awkward dance that goes on with the logo pairing of a wordmark and a symbol.
They necessarily live together and like a partnership need to relate and be supportive of each other. Occasionally the wordmark will let the symbol go out on its own and sometimes you’ll see a wordmark hanging out with other logos minus the symbol. This season, conventions aside, wordmarks are draping themselves over symbols at every opportunity. Not so much a badge circumscribed in type, as a canopy of letters dropped atop the subject, minus any extraordinary kerning or finesse.
This archway configuration obviously has a number of iterations but is rampant and leaves the impression of a passageway or portal. Possibly a window into the soul of a product or mission of a client demonstrated by the framed core of the mark. Some of these have a containment device, like Archwell, but those without are relatively monochromatic to let the background they crash on serve as home. There’s a more contemporary feel to these yet they still carry the cache of a personal approachable relationship that we often associate with clients using a badge or crest style of mark.
07 | Logo Trend
Without diving into the origins of Art Nouveau or its associated sister movements and detractors let’s just acknowledge it has returned with a vengeance.
This movement dominated the creative output of a generation at the beginning of the previous century and bobbed back up for a victory lap in the 60’s as the poster child for the counterculture of psychedelia. Often this movement is defined by its signature organic, variable weight, flowing linear tendrils that swoop, stretch and whiplash back to rest with pure elegance.
Intoxicating letter forms, cartouches, and illustration best signaled the graphic aesthetics of this movement in round one. An homage to nature and life forms both flora and fauna remains a backbone of this style regardless of era. Acid colors and a cortex vibrating lilt was given to the movement in the 60’s but today that palette has desaturated dramatically and often lets a single visual component express the style. This generation speaks of a classical dignity that continues to champion nature but paired with reserved fonts that exhibit restraint. There is a comfortable, yet wanton escapism in this trend, whether promoting a luxury product or retreat, cannabis, or some other hedonistic desire.
08 | Logo Trend
For consumers, there’s always that first impression where the work we create rings true or not.
Designers become obsessed with perception and good for us and our clients, that we care if something is appropriate or authentic. This trend is completely about handmade and we’re looking for imperfection because, well frankly, humans are flawed and that can actually be a selling point. Handmade is an accolade that’s highly dependent on subject matter. Handmade windshield wipers or chainsaws, not so much. But if a hand crafted tortilla isn’t PERFECTLY round... that’s a sales feature!
Over the last several years there’s been a boom in the number of hand-drawn logos with a naive aesthetic. It’s a very specific style and clientele both. This trend is not the drawing style of the logos, but in the use of a field of hand-drawn or applied dots to create tone. Part of the charm of these is that they emulate halftone but are not. Instead, each dab, each dot is intentionally misplaced by hand to simulate the process. And let’s be fair. The logo is hand drawn, why shouldn’t the dots be the same? These imperfections set the tone for the customer experience and expectations. It assures the consumer, there really is a soul out there that cares.
09 | Logo Trend
Two words will draw me into a story like a flash… “unintended consequences.”
In a way, that phrase is a story in itself. It doesn’t say if it turns out good or bad for the protagonist, but you can anticipate someone in the end shaking their head at an outcome. Designers have developed an infatuation with a typographic artifact designed to counter ink misbehaving on press. As a preventative measure, pockets of negative space referred to as ink traps, were incorporated at the crotch of diminutive letter forms. This allowed for ink spread or accumulation to occur but only to complete the original design. Clever and effective though primarily a remnant of another era.
As an example, the font Bell Centennial was designed for printing minuscule five point text in phone books on the cheapest, most porous stock in existence. This worked like a charm, but our interest really lies with the designers that started digitally enlarging this and other ink trap fonts way beyond their functional norm. Identity designers have fallen in love with the cavernous forms that had previously been too microscopic to perceive. Logos in this trend are typically crafted with new letterforms incorporating traps pressed beyond reason but this rediscovery has offered a fresh technical aesthetic and eye-catching anomaly–a consequence giving new credence to traps living larger than ever intended.
10 | Logo Trend
A legion of logos this year have focused on a new way to cut corners, literally.
A design that might normally have a single or a series of concentric radiused turns are embracing a look we’ll call Pinched. It’s what can happen when bending a piece of copper tubing. TOO much pressure and the whole thing crimps instead of giving you a graceful curve. But since we’re not actually plumbing, I think these pinched solutions are unexpectedly smart. Look at the consistency of the inside radiused corners. The way the outside has collapsed can create repetitive 45 degree angles that are still radiused where they bend, to maintain an eased effect. Where applied concentrically it creates a series of engaging triangular voids which build positive and negative spatial repetition.
Turning a corner and letting the inside of a bend intrude on an otherwise consistent monoline weight can break the tension of a design. Done once it may appear a mistake. Done too much it becomes affected. Repeated with measured judgment, it becomes an engaging signature. The K in the letterform for the KION wordmark deftly exhibits how type is no stranger here either. The eased sharpness of these corners shows a duality that is technical but approachable and presents a welcome diversion to an otherwise monotonous, mono-weight solution.
11 | Logo Trend
Interest in bursting ray logos which have been touched upon in prior reports continues to grow feverishly and more importantly… to evolve!
Bursts of energy and light convey an aspirational quality and are engaging and today even more dimensional than ever. Traditional circular configurations though active may pale compared to other shapes, and the technique of adding a variable step to the line weight gives these marks the illusion of layered transparency. That technique accounts for the richness and original shape in Lily Pad.
Since the composition of these radiant marks are linear, they are as much about what is there, as what is not. The nature of this ties the mark tightly to the color of the field where it lives. Often achieving the optimal glow effect forces these to live on a darker contrasting foundation. This can obviously be a limiting detractor, or an opportunity, depending on your perspective and cunning design skills. These demonstrate a shift or gain in momentum, success, speed, time, clarity, or whatever improvement the design is intended to express. Lastly, snag a peek at Pragmatika’s crystal ball as their logo smartly breaks the mold by exploring a triad of vanishing points.
12 | Logo Trend
Rooting through logos at the creation of this report we spotted a veritable forest of tightly kerned, sequoia scale wordmarks crafted from fonts so tall and heavy it would have been a squeeze to fit them onto this page.
They are everywhere and you could speculate they are the antithesis of the “pay-no-attention-to-me” sans serifs so ubiquitous in our field over the last several years. That is not however the trend that made this report. The story was more about just how TIGHT those same typographic elements could actually get and it wasn’t just limited to letterforms. If these logos were air vents, we’d suffocate before wrapping this report.
Focus instead on big blocks of graphic mass with some dental floss gaps which to some might harken back to Milton Glaser’s font Baby Teeth or solid hippie poster type of that era. Many of these have a puzzle-like quality where elements are optimally packed together like a well-played game of Tetris. As novel and engaging as these are, there will be a challenge with legibility when scaling down. Though it’s the anticipated effect, reading a word crafted with this trend will take a keener eye than called for in deciphering the same effect used on a single letter monogram or symbol. This trend conveys novelty, boldness, and an excellent sense of spatial planning. Now you can breathe.
13 | Logo Trend
With each year’s report there tends to surface a specific shape–one that designers zero in on as the fundamental building block of the season.
This report takes exception to prior reports by unveiling not one but TWO shapes that were inescapable. The first is that simple shape created at the intersection of a pair of equivalent circles, much like the transparent Venn diagram hedgehog at the center of the Mastercard logo. Because the official names for this shape are pretty sketchy, we’ll refer to it as an almond. Apropos, since this organic icon has time and again played the role of leaves, eyes, lemons, limes, fish, feathers, petals, seeds, and a multitude of other natural nuggets.
The story here is not the newness of the shape, it’s anything but. It is the abundance with which it has worked its way into the visual vernacular in the last year. Certainly, an expanded interest in all things organic or kind to the environment guaranteed the shape at least a courtesy script read. It can symbolically play the lead in a mark or work in multiples in establishing patterns for the same. And as an intersection of circles the same element represents the East and West, spirit and matter, heaven and Earth, as well as wholeness and healing. No wonder the popularity with nary a bad omen in there.
14 | Logo Trend
As designers we have to be able to pack a bigger bag when we imbue a logo with connotations and one of the favorite ways to load conceptual weight to a mark without exceeding weight limits is to consider the surface of the symbol as a field in play.
Which is exactly what we’re seeing this year with botanicals. Not the use of flora to represent the plant itself but as a surface or embellishment that’s packed with that secondary conceptual message. So… much like a trellis, in the shape of a fleur-de-lis, still represents all things French, or royal, it also may be a signal of growth or nature.
All this leafiness is not about the leaf, it is about the symbolic foundation icon that may be furled in green. Eco and biosphere projects have made using botanics not just palpable but a compulsory escort. And we’d be remiss to generalize all plant matter as so much greenery. One of the richest veins of symbolism is associated with various species of plants. The dove of peace specifically carried an olive branch. We may have a crown of thorns to represent suffering or ecclesiastical love where that same crown of laurel leaves represents triumph or victory.
15 | Logo Trend
Allow me to start this final trend conversation with an apology to anyone who was raised in a home where macaroni broadly refers to pasta of any type, shape, or consistency.
In my house it was mac and cheese and due to budget constraints, it was only on a rare occasion the name brand version graced our table. To my surprise there’s no geometric name given to this shape but whether in a half or quarter circle configuration the survey this year churned up enough Macaroni based logos to feed a small nation. Yes, this is the second shape of the year as referenced under the Almond trend.
Designers had considered this trend from some fairly unique perspectives that highlighted it dimensionally, tubular, squared and extruded, folded, cast in gradients but seldom with marinara. And as building blocks, these macaroni proved both expected and surprising. This same shape conveys a corporate message and aesthetic as well as playful when called upon. The flexibility of this component is on full display and speaks to steps on a symbolic pathway, flow and process, simplicity, and clarification as well as a no-nonsense familiarity from its simple geometry. I had to ask myself how many of these designers had their moment of creative clarity while helping their children with a pasta craft art project.
Remember, just because something is a trend doesn’t mean we have to like it. We are merely the researchers, reporting our findings after thoroughly scrutinizing more than 35,000 logos submitted to LogoLounge since last year’s report. We also review every significant brand introduction and update internationally for the past year—it’s a lot.
And with these observations of trajectory and evolution of key design directions, your task is not to find a shortcut to the top through imitation, but to engage in the climb—to transcend and evolve. Foothold by strategic foothold, you may find yourself at the pinnacle. And through your great design feats, perhaps your work will be featured here next year, establishing your own trend on which future masterpieces will be achieved.
LogoLounge.com is the most comprehensive and searchable database of logos available today. More than 380,000 logos have been submitted to the site by its membership, growing it to the largest online treasury of professionally designed logos. Through their submissions, members also gain the benefit of consideration for publication in the LogoLounge book series, the result of the most prestigious logo design competition in the world.
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