Branding , Creative

Forget 2020! A Forecast of 2021 Logo Design Trends

Giuseppe Carabelli

Optimistic or disruptively nostalgic? Where will brands be taking their logo redesigns in 2021?

Confusion reigns supreme in the world of logos; depending on what you read or who you listen to, you will be advised of everything and its complete opposite, to the point that looking at a magic eight-ball might prove to be more satisfactory and amusing.

It seems that logos will range from flat to three dimensional, from minimalist to elaborate, symmetrical to asymmetrical, handwritten to sans serif. How do you decipher all the mixed messages? 

Understanding Trends

Before getting into some predictions for 2021, it is important to understand what trends truly are and how they relate to your logo design efforts. Trends are patterns identified by analyzing user behaviors and moods and aesthetic shifts in society. Unless something extremely disruptive happens, shifts in design tend to be slow and iterative, and at times reminiscent of times past.

Ultimately, the stylistic choice comes down to partial subjectivity; true symbiosis with the company’s mission, vision, and values; and full observation and understanding of people’s moods at a specific moment in time. 

Following this logic, 2020 started just like any other year and took a dramatic and disruptive turn with the arrival of COVID-19. Our focus shifted to self-preservation; and logo design was put on hold while companies aimed at salvaging budgets and human resources, and rushing to shift into a virtual world.

After the initial shock and adjustment to a new normal, inevitably, a new status quo has emerged; and design has picked back up with the idea that 2021 will be the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.” This being said, we think that the trends this year will be guided by two major behavioral traits: optimism and disruptive nostalgia.

It’s a New Day: Optimism Will Reign Supreme

2021 will be a year of optimism and hope, as commercial and some cause-centric messaging will be geared towards uplifting spirits and ushering in hope and rebirth. Some trends that were put on hold in 2020 will be brought back to prominence, where inclusivity and diversity will be front and center with illustrated shapes of all sizes, and vibrant colors displayed in overlapping patterns or gradients.

Rebirth will be front-and-center with the showcasing of nature and sustainability via organic shapes. Light blue, green, yellow, and brown will become more prevalent in logo design, along with a human touch brought forth by script fonts, and a push back on archaic standards that will elevate even more sans-serif typography. 

Marks will be flattened and simplified or integrated within logos, with particular attention to how they are displayed in small sizes, with less attention or interest in how they might show on billboards, TV, or other larger mediums.

Logo animations will become a standard to further humanize companies and drive the mission of the various brands, along with providing visual interest and design justification (imagine how many fewer questions one would have asked if the Nike mark would have truly “swooshed” on screen or the Starbucks mermaid emerged from the sea).

Not So Fast, Now: Disruptive Nostalgia Will Challenge the New Norm

Like everything in life, there is always a counterbalance. In 2021, because of technology’s pervasive use, accelerated development, and influence on the younger generations, some audiences will be reluctant or incapable of quick change. This may engender a feeling of hopelessness or loss of traditional values more than what was seen in the past years. Furthermore, others will see the opportunity to challenge the new norm by purposely bringing back older trends.

This will be reflected by the use of blacks, purples, reds, and oranges to express a feeling of traditionalism and yearning for the past. Marks will be more rigid and minimalist, with hard lines and straight corners similar to brutalist architecture, where Swiss-style fonts like Helvetica or the Grotesk families will serve as a complement.

Disruptive nostalgia will also manifest itself in complex logos reminiscent of the 40’s and 50’s, with elements that will adapt to digital marketing only through elaborate storytelling and constant awareness efforts through branding on non-traditional mediums.

We will see this mostly with manufacturers of physical products and small business concerns that yearn to become local “love brands,” as opposed to global brands. 

Panta Rhei: Everything Flows

Now that we have seen some predictions based on social and behavioral changes, and a few peeks at the magic eight-ball, we would like to remind readers that no matter what the trends may advise, you should never lose sight of your audience and your brand pyramid.

Logo design is iterative; while you have the right to choose how to portray yourself, you also have the need to listen and observe what is going on around you. If you fail to do so, you will be reminded quite brutally by your audience, and you will need to quickly adapt to survive.

Design is like a river, constantly flowing, bending, adapting, circumventing obstacles, at times falling down cliffs, but always flowing.


Want more 2021 brand predictions? Check out 2021 Marketing & Branding Predictions: 12 Trends That Will Evolve Post-Pandemic.

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Giuseppe Carabelli
Giuseppe Carabelli
Associate Creative Director