Are the logos really all starting to look the same?
Do you think the logos are all starting to look the same? You’re not the only one. While ideally a logo design should aim to be timeless, it, like anything else, follows trends. The trend of recent years is towards minimalist simplification. The fashion and practical demands of small mobile screens have led to simpler, flatter designs.
But some people aren’t convinced by the arguments for why the trend exists. A writer offered his own theories on Twitter, and the thread went viral, prompting thousands of responses. From companies playing it safe or cutting costs to the death of aesthetic diversity, everyone seems to have a theory as to why this is happening. But is it really something new? For more examples, check out our selection of logos that look ridiculously similar. And for the best logo inspiration, check out our selection of the best logos of all time.
If the debate isn’t new, developer Radek Sienkiewicz has reopened it with a post on his VelvetShark site. (opens in a new tab). He examines “sans serif invasion,” which he says creates a “sea of similarity” in tech and fashion logos. He thinks that since around 2017, brands started seeing “being unique as a liability” and decided it was better to be like everyone else.
He doesn’t buy the usual reasons given for the trend. He argues that readability on mobile devices isn’t the problem it’s supposed to be, especially with 4K and retina displays, and claims of simplicity and usefulness don’t hold up.
“Don’t throw away what the brand has been working on for decades,” he says. “Otherwise, you could find yourself in a situation where you could put any logo on any product and hardly anyone would notice the difference.” He illustrates this point with an image of three bags (above) and the caption “one of these bags is real”. We let you find which one.
Sienkiewicz also shared examples of a series of tech and fashion logos that have changed in recent years. The tech brands he promotes are almost universally drawn to simple, lowercase wordmarks — the flippant typography of earlier Spotify and ebay logos are gone. Fashion brands have all gone capitals. Either way, there’s no wheelbase to be seen.
For tech brands, they have at least one color to set them apart – and many have a logo as well as their wordmark, but seeing the grayscale logos shows how much they rely on it for their brand identity. However, in the case of fashion logos, they are almost always used in black and white, which makes them even more similar in their real-world applications. “It looked like two huge industries decided to use the services of one designer, and not a particularly inventive one,” Sienkiewicz says.
Sienkiewicz’s comments were echoed by the writer and podcaster David Perell (opens in a new tab), who posted his own theories on a Twitter thread with the question, “What makes all these logos look alike?” It has since garnered 250,000 likes, 50,000 shares and over 4,500 comments. Perell has two theories to explain aesthetic homogenization: 1) that designers all use the same software and 2) that globalization is killing aesthetic diversity.
My best guess comes down to two factors: software and the internet. 1) Software: designers use the same tools, which exert the same unconscious forces on their creative process. 2) Internet: aesthetic diversity is bound to fall into such a hyper-connected world.July 9, 2022
He goes further and suggests that it’s not just the logos that look the same, but all the designs, from the “Corporate Memphis” illustration to the doorbells, shelving and street furniture. As a society, it’s like we’ve read too many blog posts about the 80/20 rule,” he says. “When you eliminate too much of the non-essential, you lose the kind of know-how gives an object soul and gives meaning to life.”
Many people agreed. One person replied, “That’s what happens when the creative department is overtaken by the marketing department. Being data-driven is the death of the art.” Another person replied, “Brands are afraid to stand out and they don’t want to pay the time and skill to create a unique logo. It’s easier to blend in.”
Something to consider in your answer: homogenization doesn’t stop at logos. It also happens to phone booths, doorbells, street poles and bookshelves. (h/t @culturaltutor) pic.twitter.com/5cqBiA2GEbJuly 9, 2022
But not everyone sees it that way. Many people took issue with the suggestion that the software is to blame, noting that you can create any logo you like in the best graphic design software. User interface engineer Lucas Castro had a different view of reason. “It’s not just accidental homogeneity: there’s a fundamental difference between the goals of graphic design and those of UX design.” He notes that in UX, “sticking to convention is a feature, not a bug.” Check out our guide on what to consider when designing a user interface to learn more about this.
Another person suggested a different theory: “I bet it’s the customers. You have no idea how many options these brands presented. That was a lot! Having been in this business for a while, very few customers have the courage to be different.” But some wonder if it’s really something new. After all, if you look at a lot of logos dating as far back as the 19th century, you’ll see a lot of similarities between them, with ornate fonts and script lines, detailed illustrations, watermarks, and other tricky adornments.
What is causing this terrible homogenization of logo design and why is it the demise of Western civilization? Chat 🧵 pic.twitter.com/TtGELokBafJuly 10, 2022
We can definitely see Perell and Sienkiewicz’s point of view. The trend towards simplification is very clear, and in some cases it can start to feel much the same. This doesn’t just happen with wordmarks – we’ve seen logos become flattened and simplified as well – sometimes with great success. One of the last great examples was the new Aston Martin logo.
But the demands of small mobile screens, the need to reach a global audience and, yes, fashion, mean that in most cases the change makes sense. We dread to imagine the original Apple logo rendered as a favicon. In most cases, a brand will want a logomark as well as a logotype that makes them easier to differentiate. Perhaps simplifying logos might even require brands to ensure that their brand image is more than just their logo.
For tips on your earned work, check out our guide to designing a logo. And to see what to avoid, don’t miss our pick of the worst logos of 2022 so far. If you need to upgrade your software, check out the current best prices on Adobe’s Creative Cloud below.