Let’s Talk About Logos

As consumer attitudes change, brands adapt their design and messaging accordingly. According to this article from The Atlantic, many popular brands are shifting their logos toward subtle, minimalist images. This challenges the consumer to make connections and interpret the image, evoking a more personal response than a text-focused logo might. In such a fast-paced, mobile-focused world, consumers are continually bombarded with information and distractions. A clear, well-designed logo is one of the ways a company can cut through the clutter to make an impression.

We sat down with our own Creative Director, Daniel Duvic, to get his take on “The Age of the Wordless Logo” and what goes into creating a great logo.

What is the most important step in logo design?

Daniel: “I think the most important step in the process is research. Research is crucial to understanding the client, understanding who your audience is and understanding competitors. Many people research competitors first to see what everyone out in the marketplace is doing. I do it a little bit backwards: I spend time developing ideas based on what I know about the client and their audience. Then I do competitive research to see if I was thinking the same way competitors were thinking and immediately get rid of ideas that are too close. I don’t want them to steer my creativity one way or another.”

Does that ever make you backtrack on your work?

Daniel: “I typically have enough original ideas, even if conceptually similar, because I didn’t have any influence from other people’s designs. So the concepts could be similar, but the execution was unique.”

Between audience, message and competitors, what is most important?

Daniel: “I’m very interested in how the client perceives themselves because it is often slightly different than how the audience sees them and it’s often very different from how their competitors see them. They aren’t going to change how they present themselves to potential customers and clients based on a logo. The logo has to accurately represent their existing vision of the brand.”

Do you feel a logo could influence public perception of the company?

Daniel: “I think so. Especially when the name of a company is not necessarily representative of what they do. By using visual cues, specific colors and typography you are able to convey things about that company.”

How have color trends changed over the years?

Daniel: “There has been a really obvious wave in color trends. Let’s go back 10 years or so before digital printing became mainstream. Designers were sticking to flat two- and three-color logos. Once digital presses started coming into the marketplace, there were a lot of options for doing things like gradients and non-pantone colors. But, as online and interactive needs have taken over, logos have gone back to one- or two-color designs because they will always show up easily. The load speeds are faster, and I think that’s relevant to what we do here at Covalent. Flat logos, single color, that’s kind of the trend of the age right now.”

When do you think it’s good to use a wordless logo as opposed to something that is typography based?

Daniel: “Most successful wordless logos resulted from the evolution of a mark that had words at one time. Either they cut words out of it or slowly ended up with a mark that is so recognizable to the public that it could stand and represent the company to the public by itself. There’s also a trend of developing brands beginning with wordless marks, which is done in the interest of intrigue. I think there’s a place for that, but I don’t know how successful you could be off the bat without having enough brand recall already in the marketplace. It’s a trend that works well for established brands over an evolutionary period. I believe in type-based logos for the brands that we are building from the ground up. I have yet to recommend to a client that we start off with only a mark.”

What about design trends in general?

Daniel: “I’ve noticed a cyclical logo design phase. There is such a variety of logos out there. In any given year you can find 15 popular trends, but if you went back 25 years you could find similar trends. Right now, a single line, mono-weight mark is very popular. You’ve essentially created a logo from one endless, single-weight gesture. The execution is clean and easy to digest, but this style is quickly becoming overused and dated.”

You say the same trends come back, so what do you think will regain strength in the future?

Daniel: “Something I’d like to see come back is what is called a kinetic mark. It’s where the mark itself can be represented in a ton of different textures, colors and visual concepts but retain its same basic structure so it can represent many different things in one single brand. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed thinking about. Being versatile is becoming more essential in the digital age.”

How often should companies update their logo?

Daniel: “I think there are reasons to update a logo. One of those reasons is if your brand has become stale in the marketplace. If your market share is declining and your competitors are doing something fresher and more current, that is probably a good time to reevaluate the way you present your brand. I’m not usually a huge fan of taking the classics and redoing them just because. It needs to be the appropriate time, such as when trying to regain consumer trust or recreating a brand from the ground up because of negative public perception.”

Would you like to add anything else?

Daniel: “My favorite type of mark is based on typography and accentuating or exaggerating pieces of particular fonts to help tell the brand’s story. So many brands want a mark, a really memorable icon, but I always try to squeeze one really tasteful and elegant typographical solution into the mix. Clients don’t always go for it, but I always try it just for my own pleasure.”

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