After a less than ideal start to the new decade, the 20s are in dire need of a rebrand. Luckily, the following logo design trends for 2021 are more than up to the task.
We polled our community of logo designers from around the world, and their predictions represent the shifting climate of the design landscape. While last year’s trends were focused on reinvention through new technologies, a common theme in 2021’s logo trends appears to be innovation within constraints. The past year may have constrained the world in a number of ways, but the logo designers of 2021 are pressing on regardless.
Here are the top 10 logo design trends for 2021:
- Stained glass
- Perspective drawing
- Simplistic geometry
- Divergent letters
- Authentic portraiture
- Pristine symmetry
- Kooky characters
- Modernized symbolism
- Static motion
- Analogous color schemes
1. Stained glass
Logo design, as a relatively modern invention, often seeks inspiration in the techniques and limitations of the past. In 2021’s case, many logo designers are finding enlightenment in the stained glass windows of the Dark Ages.
When applied to modern designs, the fracturing of images into shards of solid color lends ordinary concepts a touch of the abstract. Stained glass is also associated with sanctity given its roots in the medieval church. It is likely no coincidence that this logo trend is so often used in conjunction with beautiful vistas of nature. After spending the better part of a year stuck inside, we can expect our fragile ecosystem to be blessed with reverence in the stained glass logo designs of 2021.
2. Perspective drawing
As iconic logo designer Lindon Leader once put it, great design is born from simplicity and clarity. These two virtues are what allow logo designs to effectively communicate the complex identity of a brand to a viewer. It is why so many past logo trends have focused on minimalism and flat design.
While the logo designers of 2021 are in no way abandoning this approach, they are looking to reclaim some of the magic that has been lost in over-simplification. A popular logo design trend has been to incorporate subtle perspective angles. Using basic drawing techniques such as linear perspective, curvature or foreshortening, designers are able to create the illusion of depth without complicating the design.
The effect is that logos feel emphatic—the brand literally leaping off the page—while the semi-flat design techniques that have served designers so well up until now remain intact.
3. Simplistic geometry
Shapes are the building blocks of imagery. But while primitive shapes such as triangles, squares and circles are often phased out once they have laid the groundwork, there is power in their pure simplicity.
The designers of 2021 are taking advantage of this power with logos made out of simple lines and shapes. This strict adherence to shape minimalism gives these logos an air of calculated restraint, allowing them to take liberties elsewhere—such as in richly saturated colors.
An added feature of this approach is that simple layering can create an illusion of structure and depth, a nod to the perspective drawing trend we noted earlier. Through pure shape language, designers are able to create logos that are easy to parse, memorable and joyously bright with color all at the same time.
4. Divergent letters
Wordmarks—logos that are based around a typeface—have a reputation as straightforward, for better or worse. While they make the brand name the entire focus of the logo, and therefore more memorable, they do not leave much room for creative license. But the logo designers of 2021 are changing that impression one letter at a time.
Specifically, we are seeing more and more exaggerations of one letter within a wordmark. This can be as subtle as an off-colored title over a lowercase ‘i’ or as noticeable as towering chopsticks forming an uppercase ‘H.’ The divergent letter not only creates a point of interest to draw the eye, it gives brands the best of both worlds: a traditional, type-based logo that also isn’t afraid to break the rules.
5. Authentic portraiture
It is a well-documented fact that people intuitively seek out other faces, and that is why portraits are useful for establishing an emotional connection in design. The more authentic and recognizable those faces are, the deeper the connection.
For this reason, more logo designers in 2021 are turning to portraiture that reflects diverse races, cultures, genders, age groups, and more. In contrast to the homogeneous representation that too often overcrowds the media, this approach creates an authentic and real impression, which helps people connect with a brand in an instant. These logos can range from simple, flat character portraits to detailed illustrative techniques that highlight flaws and wrinkles.
The bottom line is designers are fed up with images that don’t feel personable. At the end of the day, whether a logo is telling a story about the people behind the brand or the people whom the brand serves, people are the point.
6. Pristine symmetry
Balance is one of the essential principles of logo design, and symmetry is perhaps the most extreme expression of it. Symmetrical logomarks are identical on each side when split down the middle.
While sameness and predictability might seem synonymous with redundancy, symmetrical design is all about strength. They remind us of buildings, which—however tall and complex—are designed to stand their ground, and they achieve this through perfect symmetrical balance.
This pristine symmetry allows logos to contain line art that feels both impossibly intricate and perfectly ordered. But even though symmetry is common in geometrical designs, we are also seeing this trend find a home in hand-drawn logos. Whether it’s perfection or strength designers are pursuing, one thing is certain: the logo architecture of 2021 is built to stand the test of time.
7. Kooky characters
While logo designers are leading the charge in representations of real people, many others in 2021 are contrasting this by appealing to caricature and exaggerated humor. We are seeing a rise in mostly illustrated logos that present witty, if outlandish, concepts from a rat playing doctor to a flamboyant donut dandy.
Businesses that deal in comfort or entertainment are looking to put their audiences at ease, and designers are responding with logos that radiate bonhomie. Ultimately, these whimsical designs make customers feel like they’ve found a friend instead of a brand.
8. Modernized symbolism
Logos have always had their roots in the symbols of old—from the rising Phoenix to the immortal goddess to the all-seeing eye. And like ancient hieroglyphs and pictograms, it is also the purpose of a logo to communicate through simplified iconography.
Typically, logos seek to create their own unique symbolic language, but in 2021, designers are channeling the power of ancient symbols. The effect is to associate commonly understood, classical virtues with the vision of a striving brand. Starting a new business is a leap of faith, and these symbolic logos carry the promise of a revelation.
9. Static motion
In past years, we’ve seen the animated logos trend soar in popularity. While technology has provided the means for these impressive visual feats, 2021’s logo designers are challenging themselves to create motion within motionless logos.
This means an increase in motion tracers, fluid shapes, splatter particles and action lines. For businesses that look to innovate—such as tech brands—this is one logo trend sure to make a splash. It reminds customers that a brand is more than a product or a service: it is a living thing.
10. Analogous color schemes
With yearly logo design trends, we often expect to find techniques that are dazzling, revolutionary and subversive. Analogous color schemes, on the other hand, are what student designers learn about in first year color theory. This essentially means pairing colors that are adjacent to one another on the color wheel, and the result is a scientific approach to creating harmony (in place of the contrast of opposing colors).
While analogous color schemes are not necessarily new, their rising popularity in logo design may indicate a rejection of contrast. Color is one of the most important tools designers have for affecting the emotions of a viewer, and if you ask us, a little harmony is what we should all be looking forward to in 2021.
2021 will be an exciting year for logo trends!
The 2021 logo design trends are an opportunity to rebrand this young decade. And with trends that focus on revitalising minimalism and classical compositions, from perspective techniques to simple shapes to symmetry, the logos of our future seem to be striving for a kind of purity. Whether or not this enthusiasm holds strong may depend on the rest of the world as much as it does these logo designers.