To stand out and be refreshingly different at whatever cost - that’s the message we’re getting from today’s logos. 

From an identity point of view, web 2.0 logos failed miserably. They may not be around for too long. Copycat websites may still work, but when it comes to identities, designers will have to roll up their sleeves and work much harder.

Designers have become far more aware and sensitive to design history movements and styles than they were in previous years. They are discovering ways to make logos reflect their roots.

Minimalism was a strong anchor for swooshes, sparkling little balls and other accidental manifestations. But we're witnessing a fading out of minimalism, and this weakness is paving the way for spectacular remixes to take over.

A particular style can't emerge and expect to stay at the top indefinitely. Developments in logo design indicate that trends have a short lifespan, going through a "now-you-see-it-now-you-don't" kind of roller coaster.

New trends emerge only to be contradicted by others that go the opposite direction.

After the proliferation of "bastard" icons, the new logos are harder to reproduce given their solid sense of originality and craftsmanship.

2009 ushers in something new, something experimental, something outrageous. More will be the new less. Strong visibility and passion are the dictating themes.

1. Psychedelic Pop Backgrounds

A myriad of colors and shapes burst into the scene even if design classes still promote a decrease in complexity in favour of concept and essence. Again, this new development led to a no-holds barred position, putting everything out in the open, concealing nothing.

Every technological revolution inevitably gives birth to a romantic counter culture. But mixing these two by using 1960s psychedelic patterns as backgrounds for contemporary shapes is as postmodern as it can be.

What do the backgrounds whisper to us? You have a message in two parts: part 60's psychedelic, part Optical Art. The use of layering reveals Photoshop taking the vector lane. This approach is fueled by mood and emotion.

Psychedelic pop backgrounds are reminiscent of the flower power era, but they go beyond an ultra-modern, non-orthodox mindset. They are unpretentious and democratic. There is no arrogance, no snobbery.

A good majority of this year's trends do not translate well in print. Innovations in technology and the adoption of a variety of tools have made black and white printing no longer mandatory. Some clients are aware that when they choose a particular trend, they are potentially removing their logo's significant meaning and nibbling away at their appearance when transformed into black and white or when the logo is faxed. What do they get? They get powerful and colorful striking images in 90% of the other media.


2. Origami

The desire to go back to basics is mirrored in the Origami theme; designers used it to display their skills.

An increasing number of designers wish they have real objects to work with when executing on their projects. The art of origami is fragile, light and subtle and the digital process is the same. It closely resembles minimal geometrical forms discussed earlier but constitutes more of a sub-trend.

Origami, however, evolved as a trend in its own way, because it was a process that appealed to a broader range of designers. The trend won't last too long, for the simple reason that the results are a bit too similar.

The advantage of this trend lies in the process. Designers need experience to get some of the process segments correctly. In spite of their clarity and simplicity, the logos will make the designer's presence predominant. Origami-based logos are a good choice for corporate monograms.

This trend brings back to mind the expression, "small but beautiful". Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper, but the goal is to use small folds and creases to bring about delicate and intricate objects. This can be a challenge for logo designers and this is why they put in much time and effort to come up with a logo that respects the objective of using small amounts to produce intricacy; this is why despite meager strokes, the designer's presence is strongly felt.


3. Tactile logos

What sensations are triggered when you see letter installations crafted out of a variety of materials and then photographed? Does "cool" come to mind? How about "sensual"? Tactile means relating to touch or invoking the sense of touch. But tactile does not have to translate into tactless. What can't be absorbed by touch - texture - must be compensated for by the visual.

Logo designers who like to experiment with tactile logos want to change common textures in the real world. They may work well with their preferred software, but they also have no problem with the traditional tasks of cutting, painting and pasting. Actually it does take some smart maneuvers to make tactile logos influence viewers at more than the "touch" level. The texture and quality have to transcend the feeling of touch.

The process is a huge challenge even for the most experienced graphic designers. Creating type from real materials is a unique experience. The possibilities are endless. Designers feel they are walking on almost virgin ground and every creation looks like a significant breakthrough. Type installations are supposed to create a special mood and atmosphere. The results evoque craftmanship and tangibility not often seen in logo or type design.

How designers cleverly manipulate this tangible aspect so that it makes sense to even the untrained eye is pure talent. Tactile logos never cease to stimulate logo designers; these are the very type of logos that force them to retreat into the inner sanctums of their mind, translating what resides mentally into concrete strokes, regardless of whether these strokes are on metal, paper or on other types of materials.


4. Arabesque

Designing a corporate identity using a beautiful tool like Arabic calligraphy may seem straightforward enough, but wait until you get to the execution process and you'll discover that it is a tricky undertaking. Why? Because this style inevitably requires heavy doses of gut instincts tempered with beauty. The designer has to make his logo echo the beautiful soul of the Middle East. The Arabesque is synonymous to majestic strokes that have to be delicately adapted to
the desired corporate image.

This trend goes hand in hand with the revival of the figurative pattern that designers and non-designers have observed in the last few years: complex patterns forming perfect illustrations that express passion both on print and digital format. These beautiful creations come straight from the Middle East, but American and European designers are quickly catching up. The Arabesque solution is the answer to a designer's desire for uniqueness. The harmonious blend of ancient calligraphy and modern sans serif fonts works like a charm. What do you get? A surprisingly modern object with mass appeal; mass appeal that is far from cheap.

Logo designers who use the Arabesque style often have to be sensitive to one of the defining characteristics of Arab calligraphy: thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes with in-between gradations. There must be afluid transition that communicates the designer's hand. No wonder then that Arabic calligraphy is considered a true art form. This means only one thing:there is no place for sloppiness and shoddiness, but there is plenty of room for harmony and connection.


5. Classic Modernism

In 2008 classic modernism is back in style, considered by many as a foolproof method, the "safe" way to create logo design. 2009 will take us back to its most genuine forms where everything is somber and calculated, white space is cleverly used, and everything looks like it was done with ancient methods - like the computer was never invented.

In classic modernism, we have fundamental shapes, sharp contrasts, the smart use of white space and form following function (in an era where form tends to follow passion).

The focus of modernist logos is on the essential, where the concept and the execution of that concept are first and foremost the guiding principle. It can be diluted, no doubt, but the beauty of it is there is plenty of room for interpretation. The colors and shapes are minimal and strong. Transparency and photoshop weren't invented yet. These marks transmit a sense of trust, security and pragmatism and are accomplished with minimal resources. This is the designer's way of drawing attention to himself when everyone else in the design community is promoting a "shout it out loud" attitude.

What's surprising is that the absolute simplicity of this style is embraced by the youngest generation of designers,and with good reason.

If you're not sure how consumers will react to your logo identity, modernism offers you a historically proven safe channel, one that's not fraught with conflicting messages, jarring colors and shapes.


6.  Pictograms

Logo design must not only be an object or an image, a process or a mixture of colors and shapes, but also a problem-solving process.

We're seeing a strong trend towards integrating meaningful icons, the kind of icons that encompass the essential values of the brand, its message and its market position - in condensed form. Pictograms are the backbone of non-verbal multicultural communication. As they were taught in college, classically-designed pictograms are the perfect vehicles for companies desiring to communicate the message of "Here I am" instead of "let me tell you about my company."

This trend became pronounced after web 2.0 logos faded away from the design arena. At that time, it was more important to pay attention to the glitter and shine - the background on which the icon was mounted, instead of putting emphasis on the icon itself.

Sometimes the purpose of pictograms is to convey basic community values.

Pictograms date back many years, but they became popular at a time when service industries like aviation, urban planning and public parks had to provide citizens with important and helpful information in a language that was universal. If logo designers made use of pictograms, they had to make sure that they were just as effective.

Visual cues are key in pictograms. The logo must project itself as a natural and clear message to audiences. It should not give the impression that one needs a visual detective to de-code its elements. Pictograms put less pressure on viewers when it comes to deciphering a message; nevertheless logo designers must not neglect the aspects of aesthetics, originality and timelessness.


7.  80's Geometry Lesson

If there is one big no-no in graphic design, it is using complex geometrical shapes with a full color spectrum to create a logo.

As to whether the capability to fax a logo is good or bad does not matter. This argument could persist through the years but one thing is certain: this complex geometry will be here for awhile.When this 80s trend first came out, it was a way of capturing the consumer's attention. The purpose was to design something completely different, regardless of costs. Designers will not spare any effort; they will use their turbo-charged Macs to prove that in today's over-saturated market, they have carte-blanche to attract the attention of consumers.

For years, monster-like geometrical logos have been used by aggressive and self-centered companies to shout, instead of politely introduce, their industry presence. These abominable images made their appearance a few years ago and the perception at that time was they were nothing but child's play and hence not to be taken seriously. But observant designers and brand developers began to recognize their worth and started using them.

There's a certain irony about using a full color spectrum for these creations. The 1980s geometrical logos have come back in full force to contradict minimalism, under-design, and common sense simplicity. There's also irony in the fact that it's not the emergence of a 2008 high-tech 3D geometrical design observed last year; rather it's the geometry of that ever popular Rubik cube!

There's a chance of course that this may not thrive and be adopted widely. Maybe they'll make a splash here and there to remind people that a hint of visual pollution and the inclusion of non-essentials could be an effective way of getting the message across. They may lack some conceptual beauty but you have to agree - they are fine-tuned, visually stable, and very difficult to reproduce.


8.  Typographic Logos

Somber and solemn? Yes. Trendy? No.

Typographic logos will never fade from the designer's sphere of vision because they deliver not only simplicity but also attractiveness - a sort of silent elegance. The powerful component of type, when used as an ornament, is highly visible.

Designing a typographic logo means combining the essence of corporate identity and the company's mission statement which have to be communicated through type only. This is not a task obviously for a debutant logo designer because a delicate balance must be achieved between corporate philosophies and the manner of projecting them with the appropriate type treatment.

No doubt there are thousands of fonts offered to designers, but a good designer will not succumb to the temptation of using pre-established fonts. The professional logo designer works from scratch, the way a patissier creates his ultimate signature mille-feuille.

Even modifying a pre-made font is not an option. This is the niche that typography enthusiasts guard with fervor. Typographic logos will consistently demonstrate manners, culture, and purity. The type selected must have the quality of adaptability, particularly when numerous applications are envisioned for the logo. Sadly, the best marks become adulterated when typographic support is not managed with skill and talent, and the rest of the graphic elements tumble down in quality.


9.  Street Art

When you hear the words "street art" handmade graphics come to mind. Talented illustrators with street art backgrounds have artfully changed the wall painting spray with the Illustrator bezier tool.

Many people think of street art as a breath of fresh air - a welcome relief from digital computer art.

Street art logos have always been around. Indications are that they will be for a long time. They are the preferred medium for producers of extreme sports and manufacturers of sports gear and clothing. When abstracts are on the decline, but people still expect a nice story from logos, street art will regain its popularity. When designers want to create something original, they may opt for some of the trendy street art seen in recent years.

Street art speaks for the souls of designers: there may be hints of urbanism and perhaps a speck of subversion and activism.

When bold and bright street art is reflected in logo design, just let your mind travel across geographical locations: from the East Side gallery of Berlin, to the diversity of Melbourne and to the murals of Sao Paulo, Brazil, you'll discover that logos with street art are reminiscent of a place and time that have made a distinct impression on the beholder.


10.  Puzzle Patterns

When people exclaim, "the world's gone mad!" we think that logos have also followed suit. The proliferation of brands and the thousands more that emerge everyday make it clear that their visual impact has diminished.

How does one compensate for this diminished visual impact?

One way is for brand designers to tread into uncharted territories, going to places they never dreamed would be possible. What seemed like mission impossible two years ago is now de rigueur.

These Puzzle Patterns must evoke entire sagas instead of reducing elements to the essence of the brand. Most patterns highlight nature, and bringing nature to the screen is a recurring trend for as long as logos are designed on machines, away from nature itself.

Instead of going into the elemental essence of a brand, designers are using complex vector graphics to intentionally veer away from the rules. Their mantra these days is, "design has no rules." There is an undisciplined but skillful interplay of type, patterns and images. Restraint is out of the question. Anything goes with these puzzles: animals, letters, plants, insignias or random geometric forms are given full rein. No one's worried about meaning, because this unrestrained "melange" caters to a purpose that is strictly decorative.

At present, Puzzle Patterns are the ultimate anti-corporate battle. Don't be surprised however if in the years to come, big corporations going through a face lift will decide that they definitely need something DIFFERENT and hence will go with this trend.


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