How to brand a logo: 15 design trends for 2012
Knowing how to brand a logo is tough. Picking out the latest trends in branding, identity and logo design in 2012.
Logo design and branding trends are all around us – and whether you work as an identity designer or are just interested in the intricacies of how to brand a logo, we’ve trawled the web and blogs to bring you the latest trends in logo and branding design.
Notable sources are Bill Gardner’s excellent Logo Lounge and its 2012 trend report, which includes many excellent insights – and is pretty much the authority on logo design trends) and Franklin Till‘s trend report for Computer Arts Collection.
Read on to get some tips how to brand a logo, and let us know if we’ve missed any in the comments.
01. Icons and apps
App design has become so popular, it’s not surprising that the highly crafted, slick icons that dominate the app store and populate your digital devices have moved into branding and, specifically, how to brand a logo.
As Gardener points out: “Mobile devices and the visual language of apps may well have the single largest impact on how we design identity over the next decade. We are entering a period where the lines of differentiation between logos, icons, symbols, favicons, and app buttons are completely blurred.”
Timeless and clear is one way to describe this trend – as described by Franklin Till in its trend report for Computer Arts Collection magazine. What does ‘Airline’ mean? Well, an international aesthetic, a truly modern look, and simple designs with bold colours.
Take Anagrama‘s work for Bricos – a hardware store rebranding as a global construction material supplier – as an example. Bold red, white and blue stripes makes the brand feel very international and is a strong corporate identity.
03. Transparent overlaps
As Bill Gardner points out, transparent links, or overlaps, is a new technique that’s become very prevalent over the last year or so. “It’s hard not to gain an optimistic perspective when you look at these bright solutions,” says Gardner.
As well as the examples in Gardner’s own article, you can see this in Jessica Walsh’s – of Sagmeister Walsh fame – identity for EDP where shapes are expertly fused together using subtle gradients to produce a slick logo for the leading renewable energy supplier.
04. Honest and simple
Homemade and thrifty is very in – just look at The Simple Things for instance. & Smith – a studio describing itself as ‘dedicated to the craft of design’ created this identity for Honestly Healthy: a badge approach which sums up this trend in how to brand a logo perfectly.
Who says logos have to be crisp and sharp (see point 3 as well)? Bill Gardner reveals an excellent trend when working out how to brand a logo – that of selective focus. “The subtle misty qualities of these logos can create an entrancing effect as the soft edges of the mark seem to vanish into the surface.
“This technique gives a soft dream-like quality that engages the viewer by demanding a second look if for no other reason than to confirm they are not going blind,” he says here.
06. The reveal
Rebranding a huge company such as DC is a mean feat – and one that Landor Associates tackled. The beauty of this method of how to brand a logo? The fact that it reveals the C from a D – a clever and simple mark that you immediately get. The logo – or the ‘reveal’ – could be applied to multiple DC properties, such as The Green Lantern, Watchmen and more, with the d peeling back to reveal hints at the different superheroes.
“We were looking for a living, breathing identity that could celebrate everything that DC Entertainment is about, but which could also be forward-looking, bold, provocative and allow us to celebrate the owe of our stories and characters,” says Amit Desai, SVP of Franchise Management at DC.
Bill Gardner points to this trend in his logo report – expressing it as Tessellation. Essentially it’s mosaic-like patterns. A good example of how to brand a logo using this style – and one you’ll no doubt be familiar with – is the rebranding of More4 – Channel 4’s sister station created by ManvsMachine. A particularly nice use of this is in the More4 idents where the triangles flip to reveal different colours (see ‘The reveal’). Gardner shows some other excellent examples here.
Missing links and simple illusions can result in very sophisticated branding solutions. A good example is Johnson Banks’ logo for market research company Basis. Another example of how to brand a logo like this is Anagrama’s subtle branding for architectural firm MTLL – in which the studio removed many elements for the branding in order to communicate the firm’s dedication to finding simple solutions. or perhaps check out Founded‘s work for SKIRT.
09. Splatters and watercolor
Once again, Bill Gardner points to the watercolor as one of the trends of 2012. And we couldn’t agree more. Looking for an example? Try Helsinki based studio Bond’s work for Oivi – a Finnish independent brewery. Working with Stina Persson it created a beautiful, stylish identity for one of Oivi’s ciders. See this excellent blog for more.
Moiré patterns – the kind of optical illusions created by converging and colliding grid-like patterns – are becoming more and more popular within branding and identity design. Good examples of how to brand a logo like this? How about Mexican design agency Burocrata’s work for ABO, or maybe Daniel Feytag‘s stunning work for motion studio The Guild’s brand identity.
11. Basic shapes
Basic shapes can create incredible impact in logo design. Simple silhouette-like identities can pore to be extremely stylish. Take the Red de Cátedras Cerámicas logo by BOSCO for ASCER. The simple geometric ‘AS’ shape standing alone without text is striking and efficient.
12. Abstract and sharp type
There’s something about modern, sharp, handcrafted typographic logos that really hit the spot. This identity work for a cafe and restaurant in Tel Aviv by Morey Talmor is the perfect example of how to brand a logo in an eye-catching design that is immediately legible but extremely fresh at the same time.
13. Word search
One of Franklin Till’s observations in its trend report for Computer Arts Collection, ‘Word Search’ is about having fun with logos, turning them into codes or puzzles by cutting them up, inverting them or hiding parts of the identity. Hort‘s work for TEMAConsult is a prime example of how to brand a logo using this trend.
This kind of trend will never really die, as we saw in our type design trend report. Retro/script fonts always have a certain appeal due to their air of fun combined with classic aesthetic.
One fantastic example of how to brand a logo in this style is BrandOpus’ work for Willie’s Cacao chocolate. Sketched on paper before being finalized in Illustrator CS6 and Photoshop CS6, the result is a beautiful script logo that accentuates the the tastiness of the goods inside the packaging.
15. More grown up (where’s the fun gone?)
With eBay’s new logo, many are saying that designers are taking the fun out of tech companies. The new eBay logo is, admittedly, a rather bland way how to brand a logo compared to its old, very recognizable quirky marque. Maybe it’s simplicity, or maybe legibility, but it’s something we’ve also seen with the recent new Microsoft logo.