What do Crocs, YoYos and the flossing dance (if you don’t know, where have you been?) all have in common? Answer: They were all once a trend; the big thing. I still remember wearing leggings with an attached skirt over the top in secondary school. Was that just me? Moving on… In the world of design, it appears to be no different.
More specifically, I’m talking about branding and the art of keeping it simple. ‘Simple’ means stripping back shading or shadows, removing unnecessary lines, opting for single colours. Essentially, taking a logo and giving it an almighty spring clean and declutter.
I refer to it as an ‘art’ because, well, it is. We expect a lot from a single mark. It has to be powerful enough to convey a brand story succinctly; it has to work across a variety of formats whilst remaining consistent; it has to uphold brand values and above all else, it has to be memorable. Take the Nike Swoosh for example. One of the most recognisable brand marks of all time. It took the designer, Carolyn Davidson 17.5 hours to get to it and even then she was asked by the client, Phil Knight “Do you have any more designs to show?” (Boy have I heard that before!). Thankfully though, Knight went for it stating “it will grow on me”… The cheek of it!
Creating a simple yet meaningful identity is infinitely more tricky than creating an overly complicated one. The temptation to ‘over-design’ can be strong, as can the ‘got to give them their money’s worth’ mentality. However, the real skill lies in making every mark matter.
As a Creative it’s been fascinating to watch this ‘back to basics’ approach from brands across the globe. Mastercard, Budweiser, Gumtree, AirBnB, even the Premier League have all undergone surgery in recent times – opting for the popular ‘nip and tuck’.
So why is that? Apart from the obvious point that you don’t have to be a designer to see that the logos look better for it, the answer it seems does suggest that there is logic in the logos. In a world where people are fully immersed in technology, with screens being as small as 1.5 inches and app symbols even tinier, logos have had to evolve. A clunky, cluttered and busy logo simply wouldn’t work, so naturally they have had to become simpler and more stripped back to work in this modern aged smaller format.
For me the simple approach is the right one. It shows quiet confidence, sophistication and timelessness.