Logos going flat. Should you do the same?

by | Dec 22, 2021

If you are planning on changing the face of your company, do it for a valid reason; not to follow a trend.

Have you noticed how many companies changed their logos in the past few years? Most changes seem to be following a trend: flat, minimalist logos. Have you thought about following their steps and changing your logo to a flat or minimalist version?

Before you do, let’s talk about both concepts; because flat and minimalist are not the same thing.

When we talk about flat design, we mean a design with no gradients or shadows. It’s just a base color flat on the paper. Minimalist, on the other, means a design made with the least amount of elements.

An example of a flat + minimalist design is McDonald’s, where the only element is their yellow M. You don’t need any other element or effect to recognize the brand.

And an example of a more flat + maximalist design would look something like Guinness’ new branding where they added more detail to their icon. Even though the main logo has textures and shadows, they also have a flat version that includes the new details.

Another example of a brilliant flat, minimalist logo is Nike’s Swoosh. In contrast to Unilever, which is a great example of a flat, maximalist logo design.

So, why are brands going flat/minimalist? One of the biggest reasons is that we live in a digital era. Logos need to be displayed as big as possible on billboards and small as possible on mobile websites or favicons (the tiny icon on your browser tabs).

Other reasons may include changes inside the company, an image refresh, wanting to attract a new or younger public, or focusing on different products/services.

Changing your brand’s logo to flat + minimalist does have many pros. Some of them are:

Preservation of details
Since minimalist logos have few elements, it makes them flexible to use across many platforms. The logo will always look crisp, and it won’t be losing any detail when making it small. Great examples are Correos and Starbucks.

Easy to remember
Again, since they have few elements and use fewer colors, they are easy to remember and easy to recognize — just like Domino’s and MasterCard’s new brandings.

Trendy look
They match our times. You wouldn’t want your logo to look like something old and out-of-date! That would not create trust.

It makes it easy to create variations of your logo — horizontal, vertical, round, etc. It is also helpful if you have or want a brand ecosystem, just like Google.

Imagine not having to change your logo every five years. Having a minimalist logo could save you from future changes since there’s no need to fix or change anything. It’s already timeless. Sure, some tweaks could happen but nothing major will change.

Look at Shell. Their logo hasn’t changed in years!
Coca-Cola, Nike, and WWF have also kept their logo since the 90s and 2000s.

Some other honorable mentions are NBC, ABC, and National Geographic; who, even though made small, recent changes to their typography, have kept the same icon for years.

But even though making this change has excellent pros, it doesn’t mean the change doesn’t come without consequences.

Some of the cons are:

They are trendy
I know I said that being trendy was a good thing, but remember, trends go by fast. Your new minimalist logo will be acclaimed for a few years until the new logo trend comes, and you will be forced to make another change.

Nobody likes change
People tend to resist change. Sometimes, brands grow with certain people, and when they change, those people usually get upset. This is a common issue, and many big brands have had a lot of backlash after rebranding.

Lacks distinctiveness
Sadly, some brands lose their personality or what made their logos unique. Some brands like Petco and Staples, for example, appear to have lost the uniqueness of their logos when they went flat and minimalist. We certainly don’t know the details or reasons for the changes they made, and it’s easy to just compare the old and the new without any more information.

Still, it is quite common for this trend to make logos look generic.

So, the question now is: Should you, as a big, medium, or even small business, change your branding to a more flat and minimalistic version?

Well, if you want to make the change because you want to follow a trend or do it with no reason or purpose. I would recommend against it. Sometimes the changes should be done inside your company before changing the outside.

And if you want to do it because significant changes are happening in your business, consider not changing just the logo. Create a whole identity system that will accompany your logo. Just like Dunkin’, Burger King, Dropbox, and Vitamin Water did.

Good luck!

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