Designing a logo – the new way

Since 2010 the world of marketing and advertising has become smaller, much smaller. In fact, I can safely say it’s now about 3” x 5”, unless you just purchased the recently-released iPhone, but I digress.

As smart phone usage continues to rise, more and more companies have to address the fact that their logo design isn’t responding as well to smaller screens as it does to other, more traditional, forms of advertising. Web developers, mobile site designers and other creative types have had to redefine what works on a microscopic screen, yet still brings a brand punch for their clients.

You might have noticed some of these things during your daily web surfing. Maybe you’ve actually wondered, “Why did they do that to their logo?”

Google, eBay, YouTube and Netflix immediately come to my mind, probably because they are my go-to websites. Each of them recently made slight modifications to their logos, although some might call their changes “simplifications” rather than “modifications” because their ultimate motive was to improve their look on smaller screens. To do that, things like shadowing effects, extra colors, excessive gradients and letter beveling were completely removed to make the logo type cleaner.

Another advantage to the simplification is that it makes the logo weigh less—not in pounds or ounces, but in the physical file size and the physical area it occupies on the screen. The fact is, on a mobile screen real estate is limited and all elements must be relevant and meet the viewers’ expectations.

Now that you’ve read about what is changing in logos, let’s take a quick test to see if your logo is ready to go fully mobile. The best way to see this is to simply send a file of your logo to your smart phone and look at it with your screen in a vertical position. Here we go:

    1. Can you read all of the type?
    2. Can you see all the details and accents or are they looking a little fuzzy…not crisp or sharp?
    3. Are the colors correctly representative of your brand?
    4. Are you noticing a considerable lack of definable details?

If you answered “no” to any of the questions then your logo is probably not being viewed properly by potential clients. As mentioned above, the world has gotten smaller with the number of smart phone users increasing by almost 70% since 2010, with more and more people getting their information exclusively online.

This change in usage by consumers can bring real issues for you and your company if your marketing team hasn’t adapted your logo for the times. Even if your company isn’t selling something, people are still finding you online and judging your company by what they see, oftentimes from what they see on a 3” x 5” screen.

There’s still time to adapt, and designers are standing by!! Google, eBay and other giant, multibillion dollar companies have just changed their logos without negatively affecting their brand equity, so it’s not too late for you, either!

If you do decide to take the plunge, here are a few tips and trends of which to be aware:

  • Screen resolutions are becoming more vibrant and designers are splashing mobile devices with brighter and lighter colors.
  • The world is becoming flat—drop shadows, bevels and 3-D effects are out because special effects increase file sizes and visual effects don’t reproduce well on smaller screens.
  • Hand illustrations are coming back. In this digital age people have been overexposed to computer generated graphics (I like to call it tech-shimmer), which is creating a resurgence in hand-drawn illustrations, hand-drawn fonts and typographic layouts. Because it’s human nature to be drawn to something out of the ordinary, going away from technology is where the smart money is currently riding.
  • Overall, designs are going be simple and straight to the point.

Some might call this shift in philosophy toward logos a minimalistic movement, but the reality is the process is the same as developing a complex illustration. A truly creative designer finds the heart of your brand, reviews the technology of the time and crafts a logo that’s going to work for you, accomplishing each of your goals in any format.

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