The Future of Logos: A Look Ahead
We often think of logos as tiny, static emblems that appear on products, social channels or business cards (and even tattooed on a fanatic’s body), but the form of logos is shifting. From logos that engage with more than just the eye to acting as political statements for a company—brands today know logos can play an instrumental role in defining and reshaping cultural norms and values. As buyers’ loyalty and spending behaviors evolve, brands follow suit to leverage the power of logo design.
Here we will cover the latest logo trends and take a look forward at how these will influence the future of logo design:
01. A feast for (all) the senses
As marketing trends evolve, brands are transforming their logos into “sensory logos,” experimenting with different forms and formats to engage with customers using multiple sensory modalities.
As TikTok and podcasts become increasingly popular, sonic branding gains momentum, as seen with brands like Singapore Airlines joining HBO, Intel and Mastercard to create recognizable audio logos. And as more brands experiment with 360-degree marketing using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), they have the opportunity to experiment with haptic logos, engaging users’ sense of touch.
Visual logos have also been upgraded. For example, Coca-Cola partnered with the avatar content company Tafi to curate a virtual wearable and collectible line for the brand’s first ever NFT. Everything is plastered with the soft drink’s logo—one of the most recognizable and best logos in the world. Included in the collection is a Coca-Cola Friendship Card that revamps the brand’s original 1948 artwork as a ‘90’s-style trading card. Motion, light and 3D features make the digital card look incredibly close to reality. There’s also the Coca-Cola Bubble Jacket Wearable—a futuristic twist on Coke’s classic delivery uniform to wear in Decentraland.
Outside of the metaverse, brands have embraced upgraded visual technology to enhance their logo. For example, Amstledok created the world’s first variable font logo for Amsterdam’s new WPP campus, which shifts as people walk throughout the space and changes color as time passes. The Mellon Foundation’s new “mutating M logo” is the “exact opposite” of what you might imagine for a philanthropic organization. As Pentagram’s Eddie Opara, shares with, It’s Nice That, “[the design] fluctuates in shape, texture and color to reflect the transformative basis of Mellon’s work.”
02. Artificial designs
Artificial intelligence (AI) design software can mimic or even replicate the way humans create. Image generators that create realistic visuals and art from a description in natural language processing (NLP) may seem like technology only the most advanced corporations can access. However, the release of DALL-E 2 and copycat models like DALL-E Mini have already put this powerful technology into the hands of today’s average consumer.
The viral image-generating app has quickly become the internet’s favorite AI meme machine with “its ability to crudely sketch all manner of surreal, hilarious, and even nightmarish visions suddenly [becoming] meme magic.” Even Cosmopolitan jumped on the bandwagon and let AI design its most recent magazine cover, debuting a futuristic astronaut figure stepping on the moon in the publication’s “AI Issue.”
In terms of logos, AI design means that high-quality logo creation will start becoming much cheaper, more accessible, and faster. No need to pay a designer for their time and expertise: Brands can now quickly launch their own brand identities or rebrand.
Tip: The Wix Logo Maker simplifies and streamlines the design process, using AI technology to generate customizable logo ideas.
There are, of course, some setbacks to AI logo design for your brand. Apart from generic or repetitive logos, as the technology advances, AI-powered image manipulation can mean stolen or spoofed logos that consumers will find increasingly hard to recognize as counterfeit.
03. Bigger is better
While a logo is generally considered to be small in size, this is not always the case. Small as they can be, logos have a big job to do—and so brands are upping the scale on their logos.
For example, Fast Company reports that the “next frontier in branding” is logos you can see from space. “Solar arrays are growing into an unexpected marketing canvas—and satellite imagery could become the next frontier in branding,” Elissaveta M. Brandon reports. Target, Tesla and Disney have already capitalized on their rooftop real estate, installing solar panels in the shape of their logo.
In other efforts to supersize a recognizable logo, Adidas, for example, launched an interactive 3D billboard in Dubai to show the brand’s commitment to ending plastic waste for its Run for The Oceans campaign. And Nike Japan’s Air Max Day 3D Billboard display commemorated Air Max’s 35th anniversary, situated outside the iconic Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. The 3D visuals even integrated the iconic Shinjuku cat), who has become a staple of the busy corner.
In June 2022, the Guinness World Record for the largest rugby ball logo (mosaic) of the Honda logo was set. This was part of a multi-deal between the car company and the English Rugby Union. As Guinness World Records reports, “The record was used to engage employees and recognize the customer-facing side of the company.”
04. New is old again
In an ever-shifting world, nostalgia marketing plays into deeply-rooted emotional associations that make it much easier for target audiences to embrace change. Most notably, sports teams recognize the value of the past when planning for the future. For example, the NBA Finals brought back a “fan favorite” logo. NHL’s recently partnered with Mitchell & Ness, an “originalist” brand to launch nostalgic lifestyle apparel. And the Cleveland Cavaliers rolled out a modernized team logo that pulls “cues from different eras to bring the spirit of the past into the future.”
Outside of the sports world, brands like Baskin-Robbins embrace the trend, too. The 77-year-old ice cream brand’s recent logo refresh combines the company’s legacy with a message that speaks to consumers of the newest generation (“seize the yay!). A retro brown and pink color palette with a crisp typeface creates this comforting yet new blend of new and old.
05. Cultural refreshing
Brands often subtly tweak or minimally change their logos to keep them fresh. But now, as the mediums and channels change, brands are thoughtfully redesigning their logos to more deeply match their internal mission and accomplishments. This is a quality that’s becoming even more important to consumers over time.
For many brands, small changes have been made to logos in order to channel inclusivity. For example, Visa added a new triad of colors to its logos in January 2022 to resemble an equal sign to access, equality and inclusion. Google also subtly eliminated shadows and opted for a flat design to achieve a more accessible Chrome logo back in February. And in May, Instagram slightly tweaked their logo with a new typeface, citing a goal of making “Instagram Sans globally accessible.”
If a brand chooses to make a stand, consumers say, it has to be consistent at every level throughout their company. In practice, this looks like brands choosing not to create rainbow versions of their logo to celebrate Pride month, but rather figuring out how to incorporate these sentiments all year round.
“When you talk about a brand, a logo or any adaptations to show presence in any kind of movement, it has to be authentic,” says Yiftach Koronio, design team lead at Wix.com.
“For example, Figma this year updated their loading bar—which normally appears as a black slide bar—as a gradient. It’s subtle, intentional and they are part of a movement that supports the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Burger King, for instance, has recently made a commitment to more impactful advertising in an effort to redefine a relevant and distinct voice. As José Cil, CEO of Burger King’s parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI) said:
“For years, we’ve been spreading ourselves too thin across too many messages with mixed results. In fact, historically, we’ve consistently had the most value constructs in the market – three times as many as our lead competitors – which diluted our marketing firepower, and added to operational complexity.”
In terms of other world-issues, as a result of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, McDonald’s has since sold its Russian business to a regional franchisee, “with a caveat: He could serve the same food, but he couldn’t use McDonald’s iconic branding to do it.” In its place, Fast Company reports that there is now a de-Arched McDonald's logo in Russia.
By Kylie Goldstein
Content Marketer and Branding Expert