Have you noticed any of your favorite companies rebranding themselves in recent years, only to have their “new” look appear to be the same as everyone else? Over the past decade, the ideas of minimalism and simplification have surged in popularity. This has resulted in many brilliantly simple logos, but it has also been the foundation for a trend that has yielded numerous lackluster results. Oversimplification and homogenization have been plaguing the design community. The logos that once made brands unique now allow them to fall in line, and look the part of the modern company. Is that a positive, or will these logo trends hurt their brand identity?
The logo design industry loves to use simple sans serif typefaces. Not only are these modern and clean looking, but they are also the most legible for people with vision problems. This is essential as accessibility has become increasingly important. However, it seems that many graphic designers in 2019 have lost their creativity. It is very possible to create a simple design that still stands out even when using the same fonts as many others, but often times that’s not the case.
What’s Getting Cut?
After seeing countless logo redesigns that all result in very similar outcomes, it makes me wonder. What about their old logo isn’t relevant today? Often times I came across color gradients, hand drawn logos, geometric shapes, negative space, and more. Many of these were being used in very interesting ways as well. While I can understand adjusting color palettes, the rest of these other design trends are still being used and embraced by the design community.
So what is it that is making these companies simplify their brand identities so much? My biggest theory with this is web design. More and more advertising is being shifted to the web, and with that means that the logo being used needs to be completely legible when shown at the smallest sizes. If a logo is only a half inch wide it’s going to need to be extremely simple to be legible. However, this is a situation that many graphic designers account for. Since the size of the logo dictates how much detail there can be in it, often times there will be multiple versions of the logo with varying amounts of detail. The logo as seen on a company’s billboard might not be the exact same as the logo on their business card, but this is to make sure that regardless of the size that the logo will appear perfectly. There’s no reason to remove the iconic parts of a logo when it can just be modified for smaller sizes instead.
Going forward, I expect to see many more companies follow suit and rebrand themselves in a way that makes them homogenous with the sea of brands around them. However, in the long term, I would not be surprised to see a counter movement to this. While the bright colors used in many of these logos are inviting, there doesn’t seem to be much else that gives these logos any sense of identity. This sort of oversimplification has happened before. In the early 1980s many logos tried to be futuristic by becoming super simplified. The Prudential logo is a great example in particular. Their mountain icon became so simple it was more reminiscent of the Adidas logo than a mountain. Luckily, this was replaced in 1990 by their latest logo that is simple and recognizable.
Balance is the key to great graphic design. If something is too simple it won’t be unique enough to be recognizable. And if it’s too detailed, it will just appear busy and confusing. While there are countless amazing logos still being made every day, the trends in 2019 logos have their downfalls as well. The homogenization of brands is resulting in a sea of sameness, and although looking the part seems to work for these companies, I wonder if standing out would still work better. There are so many possibilities with graphic design. Why choose the least creative route?