Every brand in existence today has one primary goal: to be easily recognized by people around the world and have a positive image of the brand in their minds. The primary means by which brands differentiate themselves from competitors, acquiring a unique market position is a logo.
A logo is an icon that represents the brand and helps identify any operation concerning the brand. Imagine you’re walking down the streets to do some grocery shopping. How do you identify which shop is Walmart? Of course, you won’t enter every store to determine that. It is because of their logo put on the storefront that you so easily can recognize the brand and enter the store expecting to find some good quality grocery products.
Now, if you were hungry after all of the hectic grocery shopping and decided to grab a quick pizza from Pizza Hut for lunch, the only way you’d recognize the nearest Pizza Hut outlet is by observing “Pizza Hut” written on the store’s signboard in its unique font with the hat graphic on top of the text. Therefore, the logo is crucial to brand recognition.
As a result, emphasizing the design of the logo and the match that it delivers to its audience is pivotal to brand image and plays a big role in a firm’s success. Many businesses, specifically, startups have the idea that their logo can be any icon with just their brand name written on it.
Alas! That is far from reality. A business’s logo cannot be just another image, it needs to be able to communicate a direct, straightforward yet distinct impression and image of your company. That goal can only be achieved with the implementation of a minimalist, flat and straightforward logo design. Remember, less is more!
WHAT IS BRAND MINIMALISM
Brand minimalism can be defined as the “highly intentional inclusion and removal of design elements, where every decision has a defined purpose and justification.” What is a flat logo? Flat logos are logos that are created based on the minimalist design principle.
According to this principle, logos should be made excluding all the intricate detailing, i.e. textures, stuffed fonts, shadows, and gradients. However, despite being stripped off of all the additives, the logo should yet be able to communicate the brand’s core message to its target customers. Specifically, flat design is a method for creating logos that renders everything in a 2D way, making them minimalistic, simple, and oh, flat!
THE DESIGN METAMORPHOSIS
Everything in this world is changing and upgrading, and so are logos. In fact, the shifts in trends of logo designing have been one the most promising of all. Logo designing has come a long way, starting from intricately detailed logos to 3D designs and currently to flat logos. Literally, thousands of brands, including the well-known ones have gone through major design alterations, eliminating all of the intricate details on their logos, leaving them simple yet classy. One good illustration is the transition of the Pizza Hut logo:
There is a significant difference between the old variants of the logos and the new ones. From a spectator’s point of view, which do you think will be easier to remember?
Needless to say, it is the current versions that will take a shorter span of time to engrave themselves within the minds of the people who come to them. It is evident that pizza hut erased all the unflattering and tacky attributes on their first logo.
Post their first logo redesign, pizza hut kept their next logo for over a decade, in which they used the combination of three colors: primarily read with a hint of yellow and green. All were vibrant colors that’d catch the eyes of the passerby. However, in their most recent redesign, Pizza Hut kept red as their primary and sole color, representing the theme of Pizza Hut. This transition from having a logo containing heavy intricate detailing to an emblem that’s minimalistic and simple just goes onto show Pizza Hut’s elevation and shift in identity as well as brand image.
There are several other brands that went through changes like this, such as Mail Chimp, who removed their mascot from the logo only keep simple yet lucrative typography as their monogram. One more example is Starbucks, which recently removed the typography on their logo to only keep the Siren because a firm of Starbucks’ magnitude need not keep “Starbucks Coffee” written on their emblem for people to recognize them. All of these accumulated to demonstrate the fact that minimalist designs are easier to remember, as they get embedded within the memory of the viewer quite instantly. On the contrary, it is tougher to digest every single detail present in the embodiment of an intricately designed logo.
EXPLORING THE MINIMALISTIC APPROACH
All these companies shifting towards a more minimalistic brand design have good reasons to do so. A minimalist brand design offers numerous benefits. In contemporary times where social media is taking over people’s attention, time, and activities of interest, their spans of attention are shorter than a goldfish.
Unlike the Baby Boomers or Generation X people, the era of millennials and Generation Z do not possess the patience of looking attentively at the TV without changing the channels with their remote controls. In fact, nobody even waits 10 seconds for a website to load. In other words, they prefer swift easy-come-easy-go stuff. Thus, it is important to make designs that will get imprinted in their heads within seconds of glancing at it, or it will subconsciously get excluded from their memory lane.
Today’s customers desire light, simple, and visually aesthetic designs over realism. Despite how much effort has been put into creating a beautiful logo, if there is too much stuff going on in it, the human brain will pass on it without perceiving the message it carries. Moreover, flat logos are very flexible. They can be put anywhere and everywhere the brand wishes to leave its mark on, including TV ads, billboards, storefronts, websites, social media, leaflets, pamphlets, packaging, employee uniforms, and even company vehicles.
Therefore, it provides the perk of being easily convertible throughout all mediums. Furthermore, flat logos are easily legible at all sizes, meaning consumers can recognize them even on the corner of their leaflets as well as on huge billboards in the middle of the streets. One major advantage of this feature is social media marketing.
Social Media and mobile phones have been the key contributor to the success of the minimal brand design. In various interfaces and formats of social media, the profile image appears as a small icon beside posts made by the official social media page of the brand. Minimal logos play a crucial role in still being legible in those tiny sizes to readers and viewers. Thus, creators opted toward using their creativity more resourcefully and designed more practically thought out emblems, modifying them into classy and simple icons, with or without typography when faced with such limitations.
Brand minimalism as a concept didn’t just arrive on the spot as a one-stop solution to all major and minor branding issues. Subtle changes along the path solved some problems while giving rise to newer ones for the brand until the logo design reached an optimum that satisfies all aspects of branding. Therefore, the minimalistic brand design evolved entirely through a step-by-step process of trial and error.
FINDING THE BALANCE
However, creating a minimalist brand design is not all that easy, and may sometimes be misinterpreted. Therefore, knowing the risks and challenges of minimalist branding before creating a logo is important.
The ideal logo needs to stand out, meaning the customer should be able to differentiate the brand from others, giving the brand its own unique identity. But more often than not creators fail to bear this in mind when designing the logo, and instead of making what should have been a minimalist solution, they create logos that are too plain or generic to bear a unique identity of their own.
Additionally, one study showed that customers prefer descriptive logos over non-descriptive ones, meaning the logo needs to indicate through its imagery what the company does. Respondents said that they trusted brands that had logos that resembled what the company has to offer, while non-descriptive logos appeared less authentic and untrustworthy.
Further research showed that well-known brands are less or unaffected by the descriptiveness of their logos since people already know what they do. For example, Burger King’s Logo is descriptive, illustrating a hamburger while McDonald’s logo is not, yet McDonald’s is the market leader. It is the new and unfamiliar brands that need their logos to communicate what they do for consumers.
In the end, minimalist branding cannot be considered a fad or trend. It resembles a whole new principle in the realms of design. It is the most effective way of conveying a brand’s message to potential consumers. A flat and minimalist logo not only catches the attention of many and creates an imprint of itself on their minds, but it also saves the company millions of dollars by trimming down the costs incurred in bearing the printing and branding expenses. Therefore, it can be convincingly said that the minimalist branding model is here for good and is one to stay for a long time.
By Farhat Chowdhury