Is Your Logo Trendy or Timeless?

It happened again. 

A company rebranded itself with a logo that looked like the incestuous child of this decade’s most cliché design trends. Perhaps you’ve seen one like it? In case you haven’t, it usually resembles something like this: abstract swooshes converging over a logo whilst being hoisted off the page with an unrealistic drop shadow, and/or a gradient-filled orb. Ugh, a fashion victim.

I paused for a minute in disappointment and wondered what the designer of that logo was trying to communicate. They probably didn’t even know. I started wondering if the world sees graphic design as nothing more than a series of trends that can be mimicked. Maybe that is part of the problem? If it’s just a drop shadow and a cool arc technique over some type in the latest font, and nothing more to it, then anyone can be a designer.

But that is not all there is.

As a designer, you absolutely cannot rely on trends and techniques instead of solid concepts. They should never be mistaken for good design. Techniques can enhance, but never replace, an underlying design that is soundly communicative. Unique. Strategic. Comprehensive. If adding a technique or trend enhances this, then go for it – but don’t use them as a crutch.

In my formative intern years, I was fortunate enough to study under one of today’s great masters of design. He designed some of today’s most memorable identities, including a handful of Microsoft logos.

In a recent conversation with him, I picked his brain about the latest trends in logo design. His response was simple but profound, “I personally think that there is no timeframe for good design. While design moves to reflect ‘trends’ of the current times, if it was crafted with understanding and skill, you can look back 10, 20 and even 100 years and it is still wonderful.”

There are many examples of timeless design. Consider the Coca-Cola logo. It forms a sense of familiarity and emotional bond with you. The same can be said of many others, such as Shell, Nike and Apple.

Think about Time magazine. Its covers have always been very simple. Although the format has been updated over the years, the concept stayed the same. It never gets old because it was a smart, timeless execution.

What do these designs have in common? They are simple, allowing for easy recognition. They are versatile and memorable. The best logos feature something unique without being overdrawn. They are practical yet unique. And most importantly, at the end of the day, they communicate the essence of a brand. They are timeless.

And yours deserves to be timeless as well.