Is There a New Trend in Logo Design?

By LaurenMarie

Andi Andi “Toon” Creffield is a friend I met on Estetica Design Forum (formerly graphic-design-forum.com). He invited me to join the forum around the beginning of this blog and I have enjoyed being a member and networking with other designers from around the world. Toon has worked in the web and print design industries since 1999, and has an extensive logo portfolio and experience in logo design, particularly in how it relates to print, which is what I’ve asked him to write about below. Toon also freelances for Taylor’s Print as a logo and graphic designer, and recently launched a beautiful logo portfolio website for them.

by Andi Creffield

Traditional Logo Design vs. Web Logo Design

I have been a Graphic Designer for over 13 years now and in recent times have noticed the fast changes the use of the internet has bought to the industry. One of the major things that has shocked me is the way logo design seems to have split into two disciplines.

You have traditional logo designers who brainstorm, sketch, illustrate and form logos not only to look nice but to fit certain restraints and needs of an overall brand. Then there are what are now commonly being know as Web-logo designers who work straight from Illustrator (even sometimes Photoshop) and will ‘design’ 5-10 logo concepts with minimal sketch work and usually no restraints as to how the logo will be used and adapted for use in the future.

I seem to get more clients don’t seem to care that the style of logo they want to use won’t transfer well to print, and say “It will only be used as a web graphic anyway.” I feel this is a direct result of the internet speeding up our world and people needing things faster than ever before, which usually means not as much work goes into them. A scary but honest truth of some of the work being produced lately follows this route:

Logo Design UK

It’s a dangerous time for us “traditional” designers, mainly because if people can now get a web logo for $100, they assume they can get a full brand for the same price; there seems to be a blurring of the boundaries between the two, very different industries. I’d like to be able to say if you’re good at what you do this shouldn’t affect you, but I’d also like to believe that people pay good prices for complete branding solutions because they are made aware as to what goes into making a strong brand.

The New Style and Printing

Lauren and I had a discussion over at the Estetica Graphic Design Forum about the use of transparencies and gradients being used more and more in modern day logos and how they go against the traditional values of a logo, which are

  • Being simple to recognize
  • Easily scalable to small sizes
  • Works just as well in black and white

I know many pre-press workers that hate designers who don’t design to the spec needed for a perfect litho print and studio workers have to spend hours working on things that designers without press knowledge have built. Fortunately, I work in a print studio as well as a design studio so I do know the limits that can be achieved in printing today.

Even these limits have changed over the years, with the printing industry moving over to more four-color process work. The benefits to the designer of using CMYK (the colors used in printing–Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) as opposed to spot color are–apart from the obvious four vs. one color–that you have more freedom with the design. Also, when you’re running the same color units all the time–just the CMYK, not switching to spot–you save production time by not having to wash up and change colors, so press factories lean towards CMYK print now more than ever, too.

No where have we seen this increase more than in the use of Digital Presses, short run CMYK jobs can now be passed through a print factory faster and easier than ever before, which means needing to make a logo work in only one color is a thing of the past, or so many are led to believe.

Examples of New Logos

One example of designing for a CMYK logo is the UK British Telecom company BT. Their logo is a made up of gradations and transparencies, but we print thousands of copies of continuous forms every month on old Litho Presses without any issues.

BT Logo with Transparency

I think the technology of computer to plate machines has also improved so much that we now have higher DPI and easier registration setup, which, for the designer, that means CMYK printing has a lot less restraints than it did 10 years ago.

I would be interested to hear whether people believe traditional logo design and web logo design should really be treated as two very different things and even advertised that way. I know a French based logo designer who advertises himself as a web logo designer, as opposed to spending a week or two on a logo concept he bangs out 5 or 6 in a day and makes really good money from it. He once said the only downfall is most of the web startups he does the logos for don’t last very long before they shut down, so his work is never on display very long, but the part he enjoys is the work is done so fast that it doesn’t ever get sour working on the same thing.

A logo I did recently is a great example on how not to design a logo; it goes against most rules of traditional logo design.

Graficas Sestao Logo

The main reason it fails to work across the board is that it solely depends on dark to light graduations to give it definition. When this is taken away, you are left with quite an uninspiring, plain shape. In this case, using it in black & white wasn’t an issue, but it does illustrate why the traditional values have maintained their place over the years, and I feel will do so for a long time to come. My college professor used to call these rules (stated earlier in this article) the “safety net of logo design;” you’ll never get too far down the line into using the logo before realizing you have to change it to use in a required way if you don’t follow them. These set rules are in place much in the same way as we are watching web standards being put into place now.

Graficas Sestao Logo - Black

I would like to thank Lauren for asking me to post here and I wanted to finish with listing a few of my personal favorite logo design portfolios, for your inspiration.

Look forward to hearing peoples opinions on some of the points above!

Thanks,
Toon

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