Logos. They’re one of the most effective ways to communicate the message of your brand, and they have evolved massively over the years. Unlike other graphic design elements, logos are much more simplistic than they were 20 years ago – but interestingly there has been a re-emergence of 90s style logos lately.
With current and past styles now converging, what better time could there be to look back at the biggest logo trends of the last two decades?
Just after the turn of the millennium, logo design went through a huge change with the emergence of Web 2.0. The term itself refers to the change in how websites were developed and the tech that they used, but the phrase became used to sum up a distinctive change in logo trends, too. Before long, rounded letters, bright colours and multiple gradients were everywhere.
Crest logos were hugely popular by the mid-2000s. These kinds of emblems added an air of history and prestige to a brand, even if the company itself was new. The combination of medieval imagery (such as coats of arms) with modern and novelty elements was one that really caught on with customers, and crest logos became especially prominent in the sports industry.
Intricate lettering style logos have been a consistent favourite over the years, with advancing technology enabling designers to deliver more polished results. Although it has lost ground to more minimalist trends in recent times, lettering is still being used by companies like cafes and barbers, with the complexity of the calligraphy helping to create a craftsmanship-driven image.
Illustration logos have fallen in and out of favour as trends have fluctuated from detailed designs to minimalist concepts over the years – but right now, they are bigger and bolder than ever. Logos with a hand-drawn element have a big visual impact, and will help a company to stand out from the crowd. Commonly used for children’s products, illustration-based logos are enjoying a wide application, and there’s no sign of them going out of fashion any time soon!
Negative space hardly needs an introduction – but it’s particularly interesting as it is essentially a trend within a trend. There has been a shift from logomarks to logotypes, and we now often see text logos with shapes and images hidden inside the letters.
We’ve come full circle when it comes to flat design. Web 2.0 logos featured lots of gradients, shadows and reflections. Flat design is the antithesis of that. Block colours and minimal designs are in, and logos have taken on a much more streamlined look. This has made them much easier to view on mobile devices. Google’s logo is one of the best examples from the shift of Web 2.0 to flat design.
Fashion is fickle – as we all know – and there have been many logo trends from the last 20 years that we’re not likely to revisit any time soon. On the other hand, some techniques have stood the test of time.
Clearly then, trends and logo design processes have changed considerably in a period of rapid advancement. Looking at the historical development of a long-standing company’s logo will give you an insight into the various phases that the design industry has been through. We’ve mentioned Google already, but if you’d like to see the evolution of logo design in action, take a look at these great case studies from enduring drinks brands Coca Cola and Pepsi!
I love their versatility, and the way they can effectively communicate all of a brand’s core values within just a simple concept. It seems impossible to us to think of a time when the logo as know it didn’t exist, and wasn’t such a vital part of a company’s marketing communications.
But – perhaps like you – we had little idea where logos came from until we started researching the interesting history behind contemporary designs as we know them.
Once upon a time, a logo was simply a mark or a name stamped across a product as proof that it was manufactured by a particular company. The Ancient Egyptians, for example, were known to brand domestic animals with hieroglyphics to demonstrate their ownership of them. Potters in the Greek and Roman eras marked their creations to make sure they were forever linked to their handiwork, too.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that forward-thinking companies started unlocking the visual potential of these eye-catching little emblems.
The very first trademark was registered in the UK in 1876 for Bass & Co, which at the time was a popular international exporter of pale ale. Within the paperwork, and soon enough across all of the brand’s merchandise, the company name was accompanied by a small red triangle, framed by simple text – but this straightforward combination was enough to create what we now consider to be the first ‘official’ logo of its time.
John Cadbury, the founder of the Birmingham-based confectionery company, was one of the first business owners to wake up to the potential of combining recognisable fonts and colours to create an original moniker. The very first Cadbury logo was registered in 1911 and was formed of a basic image of a cocoa tree, intertwined with the company name on a distinctively purple background.
In the 1950s, advertising agencies in the United States started to harness the power of the logo in their client’s campaigns. They realised that they could use shapes, typography and colour to convey each brand’s ethos and produce a trademark that really sticks in the minds of their customers. Pioneering graphic designers like Paul Rand and Alan Fletcher took this idea one step further – they transformed logo design into an art form by developing key principles that are still adhered to by many design professionals today.
Since then, brands – or, more specifically, their design and marketing partners – have been tripping over themselves to come up with a design that rivals some of the most distinctive logos in the world.
From the stark relevancy of the Apple logo through to the familiar swirl of the Coca Cola signature type and the golden arches of the McDonald’s sign, the very best logos have a broad appeal. They can be simple, like the Nike tick; they can represent unity, like the Olympic rings; they can contain a cocktail of colours, like Google’s effort; and they can even be entirely text-based, like the logo from FedEx.
From then to now, logos have played an undeniable part in the growth of many of the world’s most successful businesses.
My job here at Design FX Studio is to develop attention-grabbing bespoke logos for all kinds of organisations that want better reach and a stronger brand. I have the skills to create a logo design that will connect with your audience, and I'm lucky enough to be able to draw inspiration from all the fantastic examples of logos from the greatest brand designers of the last century. Contact me today to discover what I can bring to your brand!