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As we turn the corner into a new decade, marketers and brand builders are poised to enter a new era of design. Building on current styles and taking totally fresh artistic direction, designers around the world are pushing the boundaries in an effort to define the key design traits of the next 10 years.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the visual manifestation of brands. These are just a few of the trends we see shaping logo design in 2020 and beyond.
Digital logos evolve as brands think screen-first
While personalization and variable design remain non-negotiables, 2020 will usher in increasingly sophisticated approaches as logos are tailored specifically for digital-first (or digital only) channels.
One of the most notable elements reflecting this trend is the use of three-dimensional gradients. While tough to handle in print, logos that leverage depth and dynamic spectrums through tapered gradients create energy by emphasizing contrasting colors and are perfect for screens. Combining colors in this way creates surprising results, and this type of gradient adds unexpected layers of sophistication and complexity to what are, on the surface at least, quite simple designs.
Thanks to the move toward screen-first visual branding, more elaborate motion design is another trend expected to dominate in 2020. Animated logos are nothing new, but as designers start to experiment with new technology and blend 2D and 3D animation with multiple moving parts, the style is reaching new heights and taking viewers on a narrative journey.
Adidas Running did this effectively when the brand worked with designer Jeroen Krielaars to create a number of complex abstract animations for their revolutionary Boost technology. You can see this below in the complex animation for Adidas Running Boost shoe and the below logo version of the animation.
Raw designs that demand the human touch
In direct contrast to the high-tech, sleek trends emerging around gradients and animation, many brands are bucking against digital perfection and embracing raw, imperfect logos instead. Proudly hand-drawn with a rougher, grittier edge, the feeling evoked is of stamps and sketchbooks as this trend taps into a more organic aesthetic through asymmetry, uneven lines and shading techniques like cross-hatching and contour shading.
A recent well-executed example can be seen in the hand-drawn ram created by design studio Kingdom & Sparrow for heritage beer brand Young’s rebrand. This craving for a human connection within logo design is perhaps inevitable as consumers demand increasingly high levels of both personality and authenticity from the brands they interact with.
Nostalgia never goes away
Finally, as one of last year’s biggest trends, one thing is certain: Nostalgia is here to stay. In a world of economic, political and social uncertainty, it’s safe to say that consumers enjoy the emotional resonance of the good old days.
Enough time has finally passed for the ‘80s to be cool again, and thanks to a variety of cultural events (here’s looking at you, Stranger Things) we’re seeing a resurgence of video games, music, fashion and the attitudes that came with them. Expect to see brands get in on the act with a nod to the 1980s through touches of chrome, neon and a lot of pixels in their logo designs.
Some brands are even more overt in their nostalgia. The Milwaukee Brewers, for example, just announced they are returning to their roots next season, adopting a slightly modernized version of their classic 1980s ball in glove logo on a permanent basis.
Another noteworthy and emerging nostalgic trend, albeit with a completely different visual style, is a move toward cartoon elements inspired by the 1930s. Almost 100 years later, the handcrafted comfort of expressive characters appeals to both brands and designers as they seek to connect with customers on a human level, so expect to see more vintage-inspired custom illustration work in logo design throughout the coming year.
From vintage throwbacks to futuristic complexity, disparate styles continue to coexist in visual branding. However, one thing is for sure: As the 2020s truly find their feet, designers will undoubtedly strike an exciting balance between the authentic human connection we all crave and our increasingly digitally-led world.