It is fascinating to look through the logo design trends of yester years and to compare these against the design trends of today. There has been a phenomenal change over the past decade, which serves as the foundation for creativity and innovation today.
Are you interested to find out what were the salient features of logos from yester years? If you’ve answered in the affirmative, this post is for you. Read through carefully to learn more about how the logo design trends have evolved over the last decade.
Design trends evolve with time, technological advancements, and experiences. What is popular today may not be the same in the upcoming years. In fact, at times, trends evolve into something different altogether, giving rise to a new phenomenon.
Since the institution of branding principles, logos have played an important role in creating unique identities for businesses. It is the single most important identifier that indicates the brand promise and holds sentimental value in the minds of the audience.
The tools and techniques designers use to craft these identities have developed significantly over time, introducing new trends in the world of logo design. Besides this, some remarkable logo designers borrow inspirations from trending affairs as well, creating immediate (and short term) relevancy to the cause.
When it comes to designing logos, there is no limit to creativity as long as the brand message is clear.
Without further ado, let’s move on to the yearly breakdown of the most popular logo design trends prevalent since 2003. I’d like to accredit Bill Gardner for his tremendous effort in putting together these design trends in a chronological fashion. This made it easier to brush over the previous logo design trends with ease.
Year 2003 was particularly famous for logo designs influenced by droplets, simple geometric shapes and typefaces, pop art and letterforms, spirals, animal images, alpha-face inspirations, shadows, transparency and layers, the “environment-friendly” greenness, punctuations, labels, photo icons, springs, and wire forms. Over 2000 logos from across the globe were analyzed for this research, hence the findings can be deemed credible.
This was the time when using multiple colors in logo designs was considered inappropriate by the design community. This is one reason why most logos have fewer colors that work just as well if printed in black-and-white. Simpler patterns and symbols were used commonly to represent businesses so that the logos were easy to remember and easy to replicate.
In 2004, a sample of 17,000 logos from across the globe was analyzed to identify design trends. At about the same time, Adobe Photoshop decided to introduce the “glassine” effect. It is therefore no surprise that an astounding majority of designers began to use this feature in their logos to achieve the “premium” look.
Other important design trends included the use of bubbles, dialogue boxes, substitutions, letter bars, universal symbols, hand-crafted images, arm sight, natural elements, rings, particle fields, prisms, mezzotint, and mythic components to express the brand promise.
As in the previous year, minimal use of colors reigned. These logos were put through the conventional tests that made them decipherable under grayscale, scalable to all sizes, and easy-to-remember by people.
However, it was the first time logo designers began to experiment with gradients and fuzzy edged designs contrary to the crisp finesse of vector logos. It laid the foundation of a design genre that would become massively popular in the upcoming years.
By 2005, the design tools along with the printing technologies had advanced considerably. This widened the possibilities of logo design, challenging conventional beliefs and prejudices. Logo designers were now more likely to experiment with colors than ever before.
The glassine effect of the previous year was modified into puffy-inflated appearance. It was also the year when amalgams were introduced, aiming to capture the entire scope of a business within the logo. Besides this, folly stars, blow-out logos, CMYK, flames, wicker balls, weaves, whips, dots and lines, drops, leaves, blurs, swirls, and dashed designs topped the charts.
Some of the trends from the previous year prevailed as well; however, these were significantly less popular. Gradients and blurs became more popular, leading towards a new era of logo design. Besides this, an increased emphasis on textual elements within the logo was also prominent.
At times, new trends are adopted. At others, some of the previous ones are taken a step forward.
In 2006, over 42,000 logos were analyzed to figure out the prevalent trends. Blankets, blenders, dot fuzz, buttons, globes, dry brush strokes, highly embellished patterns, splats, out-glow, transparency and layers, filigree, scribbles and vivid patterns became common features of logo designs.
The glassine effect and the puffy finish from previous years were manifested in the button logos, orbs and globes that became popular in 2006. Not only did it intend to encompass the entirety of the universe within the logo, it also mirrored nature and familiarity, hence becoming an instant win for most businesses.
Also, the blow-out, fuzzy design trends from previous years prevailed in 2006 in the form of dot fuzz, glows, and overlays. Logo designers were ready to experiment with raster logos, encouraging people to engage with the design in order to decipher the message.
The year 2007 saw the introduction of new logo design trends. For the first time, the double helix strands that imitate the DNA – the building block of life – were used to adorn brands. This construed a natural scientific association, lending intrinsic credibility to the brands.
Besides this, several new genre were introduced. The ‘rubber band’ seemed to have its roots in the swirls and rings of previous years. Blow out and fuzzy edged logos remained just as popular as in the previous few years. This time, the designers were taking it up a notch by adding radiant effects to make the image (and hence the brand) appear friendly and welcoming.
Green and eco-friendly logos prevailed though their construct improved noticeably. Instead of using the color green or the typical symbols of an eco-friendly promise, logo designers were now embedding meaningful messages by creating unconventional expressions.
Other design trends of 2007 borrowed influences from pseudo crests, light effects, urban vinyl, hubs, dots, flora, half designs, overlaps, optical illusions, ribbons and 3D effects.
It was the first time brands and designers were experimenting with 3D rotations on design elements. There was considerable confusion with respect to consistency and conformity with the basic logo design principles. Nevertheless, this trend became a common practice in the next few years.
The year 2008 seems to be more about focusing on new trends than about reinventing previous ones.
For one thing, transparency and layers continued to be a major trend, bringing in the concept of fold over in logos. Another important trend which survived from the previous years was the rubber band, now fashioned to illustrate strategic flexibility in the form of loops. Moreover, supernova and globes, the two new genres introduced in 2008, borrowed significant influence from the hubs used previously.
As far as other trends are concerned, logo designers chose to experiment with fine lines, jawbreakers, strobes, nimbus, cross-stitch, amoebas, facets, doodles, flourish, and fibers. Some of them even chose to experiment with strategic circular patterns typically used to distinguish the colorblind.
This year, however, the emphasis on environment-friendly “green” logos was less significant. 3D logos remained popular even though they formed a small percentage of the 27,000 logos analyzed this year.
In 2009, two logo design practices were particularly popular. Firstly, businesses and designers were taking chances with sharp color contrasts and multi-colored logos. Some of the logos even used photo fills effects to add life-like reality to the design.
On the other hand, more designers now were integrating textual message in the logos, making it easier for viewers to decipher the message. Encrusted logos were also common, hiding the message strategically within the visuals. On the whole, text-based logos became quite popular in 2009.
Logo designers were also working with concealed patterns, dots, candy stripes, monologues, doilies, flip flops, mosaic, sequential patterns, the three-arrow symbol of recycle, dandelions, circles, and the gossamer patterns. Some of the previous trends existed as well. In particular, the combination of vector and non-vector elements in a logo design became particularly popular during this time.
Quite a few design trends from previous years evolved into new genres in 2010. Some of the most noticeable design trends included cubist forms, spores, ghosts, tendrils, shape-shift, parts, pixels, hexahedron, dust/particles, peepshow, festoon, stains, bursts, wallpapers, and boxes.
The use of colors and text in logos prevailed. In fact, some of the logos contained extreme contrasts and unconventional hues. Geometric patterns and 3D effects were popular even though the “green” revolution seemed to have died off completely. Designers were now experimenting with different surfaces and angles to induce creativity in their designs. Photo fills and real-life visuals were commonly used in logos.
In 2011, the color hues were visibly toned down for a more subtle and composed look. The neutral was changed from black to browns, resulting in the onslaught of brown colored logos. Besides this, there was a massive influx of globes and Os in logos, leading to an early maturity of this trend.
Gradients were used to give logos a pop-out effect. Text-intensive logos were also common. Besides this, avatar-like smiling characters, blurs, mono line illustrations, serial logos, dots, concentric circles, swirls and loops, bands, commas and mosaic patterns remained popular. Another important trend to note for this year was the widespread use of fruit symbols in logo designs.
In 2011, some businesses and designers chose to revisit their vector-based simple logo designs to reinforce clarity and perception. 3D effects were also being used commonly, engaging audience with perceptual differences. On the whole, logo design trends for this year were inconsistent, favoring more than one popular practices.
The year 2012 introduced some novel design trends influenced by simple designs. For instance, icon clusters and transparent layers became quite popular, taking the legacy of “transparency and layers” a step forward. In addition to this, other logo design trends were influenced by watercolor finish, curves, anaglyphs, weaves, selective focus-defocus, intertwined whips, sprouts, peels/fold over, spheres, squares/boxes, tessellation, arcs, and serial logos.
The color hues were further toned down in 2012. Also, due to the unification of logos, favicons, app buttons and icons, a fine majority of the designers chose to use the same design for each purpose in order to reinforce branding. Others, nevertheless, chose to treat each purpose separately, creating multiple designs for every brand.
The year 2013 introduced another set of fine logo design trends. The use of pins to depict “here” was visible across several logos. Textual logos remained popular, introducing novel typefaces to flaunt the logo. Badges, banners and monograms were also used in several logos. In particular, the use of few colors and darker hues suggested the reversal of logo design trends towards the simpler basic design principles.
In addition to this, line craft, slash, eyelet, stylish curved brackets, formula, membrane, nature marks, waves, dots and lines, and crossed design elements constituted the most noticeable logo design trends of 2013.
As compared with the previous trends, 2013 brought on stable and composed design trends. It was a step back from the reckless experimentation that was conducted earlier. There was also a noticeable unification of favicons, logos, icons, and app buttons where more businesses chose to utilize the same design for every purpose.
The logo design trends of 2014 were particularly interesting, especially because of the reiteration of basic logo design principles. Fewer colors adorned logos in 2014, the neutral was reversed to black, and simple, scalable logos were brought back in fashion.
Popular logo design trends of 2014 included the mono crest, letter stacks, hand types, dazzle, flat facets, wires, trans menagerie, waves, hexagons, geographical representations, pompons, knit, symbolic shapes, links, and motion lines. A heavy emphasis on textual logos was observed, raising concerns of scalability. Almost all logo designers placed exclusive emphasis on simplicity and scalability owing to the diverse use of logos.
This brings us to 2015, the year where most prior design trends evolved into different categories altogether.
For instance, the dots-and-lines became the dot-tip, a classic way to round-off the pointy edges. Concentric shapes were introduced other than the circles, adding more detail to the design. The “folly stars” of 2005 were revisited, now being used as sparkles in logo designs.
Besides this, sticks, contours, mono line designs with basic colors, circles, trixelate, photos, rays, codes, chroma coasters, and shaded icons were noticeable design elements in 2015. Some of the businesses chose to use detailed logos with intricate patterns. A few others resorted to simple symbolic representations.
Colors and 3D effects are becoming dominant again, particularly in the light of 3D printing technologies. The future seems to hold bigger promises of evolution and innovation in the design industry.
Design trends spread like wildfire. Once a particular design style receives widespread appreciation, it becomes an inspiration for other designers, leading to a convergence. Over the years, trends change to reflect on-going practices and technological limitations.
We’ve come a long way from the time when logos had to be simple, memorable, scalable, timeless, and relevant. The logo design trends of today challenge these basic principles to the core. Now, it is all about making the right impression in the right way. What’s more; there is no single “right way”.
By and large, it is up to you to make a design work.