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TRENDS IN LOGO DESIGN

1 droplets

Two or more droplets caught in the act of merging, usually symbolic of convergence or union: The Cingular logo is a wonderful example. The effect can also be used to express a technical or scientific association. Sometimes these shapes are flat, but other designs have highlights or shadows that give the impression of dimension.

1. design firm: proart graphics/gabriel kalach client: g2 team sales
2. design firm: grapefruit design client: grapefruit design
3. design firm: planet propaganda client: interactive media solutions

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2 refinement

Over the past few years, there has been a return to simplicity in major corporate logos, alá Chermayeff & Geismar, which has never really strayed from this post. There are many more marks based in geometries, mixed with the simple twist of visual phrase. Possible reasons abound: Is this an homage to the 1970s and the days of classic logo design? A greater reliance on the computer's natural geometric tendencies? Or is it possible that there are fewer and fewer designers out there with the hand skills necessary to craft more illustrative marks?

1. design firm: liska + associates communication design client: the wexan group, ltd.
2. design firm: chermayeff & geismar inc. client: multicanal
3. design firm: prejean loblue client: 1st intranet bank

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3 pop

In the ongoing "Blast from the Past" tour, in which we trace a complete circle about every 30 years, companies that cater to the youth market as well as more boutique organizations have embraced the pop culture language of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Period letterforms, in particular, have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, possibly the result of ready availability from companies such as House Industries and from less common sources such as rave flyers.

1. design firm: howalt design studio, inc. client: work, inc.
2. design firm: adamsmorioka, inc. client: nickelodeon
3. design firm: braue; branding & corporate design client: stylus production

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4 natural spirals

Imagine a few drops of dark paint dropped into a gallon of white paint, and you stirred them just slightly. Or picture the circle of light created by a child as he draws circle after circle against the evening sky. These are the less-contrived vortex or spiral shapes found in nature, not in a computer program. There is a mix of chaos and hard geometry in these marks that suggests order and freedom at the same time.

1. design firm: lieber cooper associates client: swissôtel-chicago
2. design firm: cato purnell partners client: the federal group
3. design firm: cronan group client: kintana

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5 animorphic

Animals continue to be used to help companies quickly develop equity in their identities by reflecting the particular positive attributes of an animal back onto the company. Although this is a tactic used more by small- to mid-sized companies, there are a few Fortune 500 companies that rely on it, too, such as Pacific Life's whale or John Deere's deer, recently rehoofed by Landor Design. Although illustration styles vary widely, all of these logos rely on implied symbology.

1. design firm: gardner design client: blue hat media
2. design firm: felix sockwell client: peace
3. design firm: alterpop client: pardox media

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6 canted

How can you take an unassuming geometric solution and make it remarkable? Cant it or wrap it onto a sphere, a task easily accomplished with a click of the mouse—not only by you, but by many other designers as well. Thanks to FreeHand and Illustrator, even very two-dimensional logo solutions can live in a faux 3-D world.

1. design firm: cato purnell partners client: sydney super dome
2. design firm: kontrapunkt a/s client: danish national center for development of competence and quality
3. design firm: grapefruit design client: boston media corporation

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7 alpha-face

In an effort to make a company's identity more friendly and approachable, many a wordmark has been turned into a face or a little person. Letterforms and their many shapes are turned into eyes, noses, ears and mouths and applied to a mark, alá Mr. Potato Head. Although these designs have been with us to some degree for generations, designers continue to find new and fresh iterations of the theme.

1. design firm: cronan group client: tivo
2. design firm: willoughby design group client: lee jeans
3. design firm: gardner design client: plazago

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8 shadows

Be they hard or gentle, shadows continue to give logos a sense of place. Sometimes shadows are used beneath a mark to give it a greater iconic presence: A logo that defies gravity must have supernatural powers of some sort. Other logos have used the shadow because, really, they had no baseline and the shadow tethers them to reality. Illustrator Guy Billout's work has provided another, more skewed influence: His delightful way of twisting the natural phenomenon of the shadow into performing contrary feats has inspired a number of designers to misshape shadows or set them off on strange trajectories.

1. design firm: jon flaming design client: central & southwest
2. design firm: evenson design group client: brooks and howard
3. design firm: cronan group client: verio

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9 transparency

Let's face it: The old rule that dictated that any really well-designed logo had to (A) be reproducible in only one color, and (B) that color had to be solid, not screened, is gone. Sure, there are still challenges to be faced in playing fast and loose with these rules when a job must actually go on press, but the internet is much more forgiving. There are many logos today, like the MSN butterfly, that have transparent qualities that reveal themselves through multiple layers. These designs can be very compelling, especially since they are still novel enough to stand out from the already crowded world of flat one-, two- and three-color logos.

1. design firm: mires client: fusion media
2. design firm: cato purnell partners client: neil henson fashion bytes
3. design firm: landor associates client: altria

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10 green

This is a literal and metaphorical trend. The roots for this can be traced back further, but Landor's greening of BP was a seminal effort. Although Raymond Loewy was using green and yellow in the historic BP logo, Landor gave it an environmental sense of place with the use of the flower/sun. Cargill, ADM, and Monsanto — all companies that might be likely to take an environmental hit—are all going green. It's a trend that is a breath of fresh air in an industry awash with red, white and blue. Public utilities have also picked up on this trend. But if it is overplayed, corporate green will soon become a tired joke to the public.

1. design firm: enterprise ig client: monsanto company
2. design firm: landor associates client: bp
3. design firm: kiku obata & company client: ameren corporation

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11 punctuation

At one time, those punctuation marks at the top of the keyboard were reserved for expressing profanity. Today, they are all smileys. There is an entire shorthand language out there, created by youthful internet users, that is increasingly understood by the public at large.

The dotcoms almost played out this trend all by themselves: Every logo had an "@" in it. But as long as there are punctuation variations to explore, these marks will probably continue to be pounded out, even for logos that aren't for copywriters.

1. design firm: trickett & webb client: riba
2. design firm: the office of bill chiaravalle client: numbers@work
3. design firm: sackett design client: workplace answers

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12 labels

These are usually innocent little marks that are often simple silhouettes of innocuous objects. Inside the object, a name will be reversed out in a very legible font. These marks are often associated with hipper entities: The picture says what they do and the word says who they are. There's not much room for affectations — just a quick, painless dose of honesty.

1. design firm: thomas vasquez client: new york city school district
2. design firm: thomas vasquez client: glue brand design
3. design firm: howalt design studio, inc. client: work, inc.

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13 photo icons

These can be extremely well-done or extremely over-done. A simple photo from a CD stuffed with royalty free images is isolated on a white background, and the name of the company is run beneath it. The approach is decidedly more elegant when the visual is supported with a twist of phrase, or when the phrase is supplied with a somehow unexpected visual.

1. design firm: sanna design group, inc. client: orange e-graphic
2. design firm: chermayeff & geismar inc. client: turning stone casino
3. design firm: proart graphics/gabriel kalach client: our special video

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14 slinky

This is an effect that is one generation past the swoop: Instead of just making the short stroke, these marks loop in orderly patterns often above the company name. The curvilinear form is very reminiscent of the fun of a Spirograph, and perhaps these accurate but flowing forms suggest the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that two plastic gears, four pins and a ballpoint pen can provide: It's a simple victory. Then again, the form may simply spring from osmosis, absorbed from the screensavers we all share our spaces with, especially iTune's visual space. Their ability to fill space with light and a fluid image is calculated and fresh.

1. design firm: cato purnell partners client: energex australia
2. design firm: hornall anderson client: okamoto corporation
3. design firm: enterprise ig client: delta

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15 wire

Put a pen to paper and craft an image with absolute economy and elegance of line. Picasso and Calder were creating art this way long before anyone embraced the form as a means of illustration or logo design. Felix Sockwell is the master of the technique today, and others have achieved success with it as well. Because of its intensely artistic nature, designers may feel the saturation of this technique before clients and the public do. But wire-form logos will probably continue to appear for at least a few more years unless a behemoth of a company adopts the style and wrangles the life right out of it.

1. design firm: tim frame client: host marriott
2. design firm: howalt design studio client: herman miller
3. design firm: felix stockwell client: hand eye

Article used by permission from
Graphic Design USA

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