2019 Logo Design Trends
Knowing the trends forcing companies to rebrand will help you develop better logos.
Executive Summary | Abstract | TL;DR
We used notable corporate rebrandings of the last year to signal logo design trends because there are reasons big organizations spend money on rebranding to certain logos. The overall trends are a push to simplicity, and exclusive use of sans-serif fonts.
1 | Simple symbols: logos are becoming very simple, with flourishes stripped away
2 | Simple type: a movement away from decorative, handwritten and script fonts
3 | Heavy to bold: bold fonts are replacing beefy fonts
4 | Thin to bold: light fonts are being replaced with bold fonts
5 | No serif fonts: once elegant serif fonts are being replaced
6 | Less all caps: there are some all-caps logos, but far less than years ago
7 | Flat: use of gradients is down, with logos only using one or two flat colours
5 minute read. | 1200 words.
Logos are a part of the culture, and the culture always changes. Preferences change, things don’t mean what they used to, and perceptions of logos may not be what they once were. Many companies change their logos to make sure they are not left behind.
I have designed many logos, and plan to design many more in 2019. I need to understand what the logo design trends are. Logo trends allow us to understand what clients are looking for, and how public perceptions towards design features are changing.
But that does not mean that we have to follow the trends every time. With any given design, you may want to buck a trend for good reasons. For example, if the trend is towards sans-serif fonts (which it is right now), then a wordmark with a serif font is going to stand out.
I looked are all of the notable rebrandings of the last year to see what the trends are in logo design. We should take notice if companies are spending tens to hundreds of millions of dollars moving away from a design with specific features and towards a new design they believe will be perceived better.
This year sees the continuation of the overall trend of logos getting more simple. The rise of social media and smartphones has required logos to be recognizable when really small, like a profile picture on a news feed. Simple logos work better on mobile and social media.
But this year we see the dawn of the new overall trend in type: the absolute domination of sans-serif and modern fonts. Designers and companies are avoiding serif, decorative and script fonts like they are radioactive.
Stripping out the complications, and keeping elegant, clean symbols that work.
There is a no more time-tested adage in design than “keep it simple, stupid!” But, there are periods in the history of design where designers get overzealous and make things unnecessarily complicated. We not in one of those times.
Classy, simple symbols are replacing more complicated ones. A good reason motivates the push for simplicity: simple symbols are more manageable for our brain to encode and recognize, so brands with simple logos are more sticky than others. Simple logos make better brands.
Removing flourishes in wordmarks in favor of sans-serif and modern fonts.
No longer are companies taking risks with their wordmarks. Instead, the industry is rallying around basic, easily-readable fonts from the sans-serif or modern classes of fonts. Decorative, script or sans-serif fonts need not apply.
Want my two cents? There is a homogenization of wordmark design that is not helping anyone; if all type in logos looks the same, then type choice becomes meaningless.
Modern fonts are not going to feel modern much longer if they continue to be overused. Hand-written, slab serif, and even decorative fonts can differentiate the brand as well as signal an unusual personality trait. All classes of fonts have their place, so it is unfortunate that sans-serif rules them all. Okay, my rant is finished.
Heavy to Bold
Super thick fonts are getting replaced by more classically bold type.
Having a beefy logo has its advantage; fonts with thick lines are easily read at a distance or when very small and will work better in signage and when embroidered. But there is too much of a good thing. Too thick a font and the letters start appearing as blobs.
The design industry is leaving the super heavy fonts behind and moving towards bold fonts. Designers are choosing the strength of their type to be just thick enough to get the job done. Nothing crazy.
Thin to Bold
Featherweight wordmarks are bulking up to become more readable.
Using a thin font for a logo is an interesting choice. The logo should be one of the most pronounced parts of any design, and the logo needs to work at all scales and positions. A thin font make both emphasis and scale harder, but designers still choose it for brands, usually because they wanted the brand to be perceived as classy or sophisticated, like a perfume or a fashion brand.
But logos with thin type are losing their cache in popular culture, so brands are reassessing and choosing bold fonts instead. It is a safer choice because bold fonts are just easier to see when small or read at a distance.
No Serif Fonts
Serif and slab-serif fonts are losing the culture war.
Serifs are those little marks on the ends of the lines of letters in certain fonts. Serifs are as old as type itself; we see serifs in Roman carvings. They are just leftover from when scribes wrote with brushed and ink. It just looked more finished with a little flick of the brush at the end of a line.
Serifs may be relegated to the history books, as designers are nearly universally choosing fonts without any serifs. Companies are rebranding to leave their serif type wordmarks behind. Serif fonts are perceived as old-fashioned, and almost all brands want to be considered modern, contemporary or even futuristic.
Less All Caps
Reversing course from the all caps trend.
There is a movement away from all caps wordmarks in favor of title case or all lower case. The push against all caps isn’t everywhere; some companies are rebranding to all caps, but brands that should not have been all caps in the first place are moving away.
Not too long ago, there was a movement towards all caps. It was the thing to do, and as a result, logos that should never have been all caps went in that direction.
All caps logos text has a universal feeling for people: serious, authoritative, loud. Those perceptions are fine if they fit your brand image, but all caps logos create dissonance if the brand is to come across casual, friendly or fun-loving. Brands that followed the trend to all caps are leaving it now to better align their brand with how the brands should feel.
One or two colors max, and don’t even think about gradients.
Using gradients to indicate some sort of dimension to the logo is now a no-no. We currently are sticking to flat colors and simple shapes. Logos can still have dimension; you have to indicate it with shape rather than shading.
This new movement is fascinating because there was a trend in the opposite direction in the late 90s, early 2000s; designers (including me!) loved using gradients to make their logos look or spherical, cylindrical or embossed because computers suddenly became better as displaying gradients.
Now, we stick to shapes that are rendered very simply because they can be recognized at every scale, from a smartwatch to a billboard. It is probably a good thing; adding unnecessary complications will always be a bad idea.
More logo design trend articles, for your reading pleasure.
Trends from previous years
Trends identified by other designers
Logo Design Trends 2019: Colors, Gradients, Experiments
by Pavel Krivoruchko