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Bill Gardner | Logos!

June 8, 2021

As designers, there’s often nothing we love more than obsessing over that most concise rendering of a company’s heart—from the good to the bad to the ugly.

Which is why it’s always such a treat when Bill Gardner of Gardner Design presents LogoLounge’s trend report at HOW Design Live every year.

Tomorrow we’re launching Gardner’s latest HOW Design Live production, “The Power of Trend’s Swinging Pendulum”—a three-part virtual gathering in which Gardner will reveal the 2021 LogoLounge Trend Report, and ruminate on trend-spotting with some of the industry’s best minds.

Oh, and: It’s free! 100%. As Gardner has noted, you will have to hand over something perhaps a little more precious than a few bucks—your preconceived notions. “You can close your wallet, but you’ll want to open your mind.”

In anticipation of the event, we’re taking a look back at Gardner’s most recent HOW Design Live session, “From Righteous to Retched: 2020 Logo Trends.”

As he points out in the talk, “Keep in mind I just said ‘trend’ report. I did not say ‘trendy’ report. Trendy Is something very ephemeral. It happens very quickly, it goes away quickly. … Trends really are what drive what we do as designers. We’re taking about evolution or the trajectory of design. We all live by trends. What we read, what we eat, the things we wear … all of those things are determined somewhat by trends. But uniquely as designers, we like to take things and evolve them. And I think that’s what’s beautiful about our industry.”

Gardner’s challenge to the audience: Not to imitate a given year’s trends, but to stand on their veritable shoulders and see how you can take them to the next level.

And with that, here are the 15 trends LogoLounge identified in 2020. See all the logos mentioned below in action here—and register (for free!) for The Power of Trend’s Swinging Pendulum, which takes place June 9, 16 and 23!

1. Counters. “It’s all about the negative, not about the positive.”

2. Mazes. “Think about how a maze ends up being used in a client’s perspective. A lot of times it’s about that idea that they operate process that may be confusing, may be challenging for a client to go through, but this particular company offers you that Sherpa-level savvy navigator.”

3. Sisters. “Symmetry is part of the human attempt to find balance and comfort in order. … A lot of times people look at a mark and it brings comfort to them if there is a level of symmetry in it.”

4. Checkmelt. “[These are] checks that actually fluidly motion into each other.”

5. Bevel Tips. “Every year there is some shape that drifts to the top that everyone is working with. … This shape softens down points, and that’s something that’s kind of a common need for designers, is to take a point and keep it from being terribly sharp—because humans tend to have an aversion to things that are incredibly sharp.”

6. Petri Dish: A Petri dish is a microcosm; it’s the ability to examine a subset of something with great clarity. There are more and more people that are taking on this kind of Petri dish look to their logos.”

7. Variable Type: “The only way to identify variable type is in its contortion. … The use of this trend is a simulation of a demonstration. … It’s symbolic of flexibility and transition.”

8. Blackletter: “It has incredible bad legibility, but it’s become incredibly popular. And it wins on personality, I think. You can blend that aspect of the old world and the new world together.”

9. Idrops: “There are a huge number of companies that are shifting towards a wordmark that is entirely lowercase—and if you get lucky, your lowercase word has an ‘i’ in it, because there’s a dot you can deal with.” That could involve changing the color of the dot, or setting the letter upside down.

10. Hand Imagery: “It’s that magic instrument that can carry out our thoughts. So hands are incredibly important symbolically as we start to look at identity. You’re not going to find any of these logos in Fortune 500 companies.”

11. Bolts: “This year we’ve seen immense numbers of lightning bolts that have been played into the idea of an identity.”

12. Twinkle: “It’s this idea of this magical element that is indicating that something is occurring at this junction that creates that twinkle.”

13. Chiseled Shadow: “They’re most often on a dark background. You’ll notice that there is a little diagonal 45-degree chiseled-out shadow area on these logos, and it’s this idea of trying to bring dimension to something.”

14. Letter Illusions: “They’re back … the enormous number of people using optical illusions as the premise of their marks.”

15. Cornered: “It’s intoxicating, it’s captivating, and it’s made, frankly, out of what’s not there as opposed to what’s there. It’s illusion with simple definition of space on a two-dimensional surface.”

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