In the Online Age, the Right Logo is More Important than Ever

Branding in the 21st century is made up of many facets. But ultimately, the logo still speaks more about your brand identity than anything else.

The 21st business landscape is a world away from the corporate world of the mid 20th century. Now, companies pop up overnight, a virtual presence is as, or more, important than a physical one, and the global marketplace has led to a crowded, 24/7 competitive environment where nothing stands still. Despite all this, though, the fundamental things apply. More competition means it is more important to stand out from the crowd, so having a strong brand with clear identity is vital. Businesses use a whole variety of strategies to achieve this across multiple channels, both online and offline, but logo design is the constant that underpins everything else.

Changing times and evolving businesses

Some of the most successful and well-known businesses have recently given their logos something of a makeover, and the most interesting thing to observe is that they have all followed a similar pattern. Look at the likes of Google, Airbnb or Pinterest and what you will see is a move towards clean, understated lettering in sans-serif or arial font.

Just a trend? That’s certainly a possibility, fashions come and go in logo design as much as they do in any other area of creativity. With historic brands like Ford, McDonalds or Castrol, it is easy for even the untrained eye to take a look at an iteration of its logo and date it to within a decade, just from the style. Steve Rose wrote a piece for The Guardian back in 2014 that discussed how brands had fallen in – and out – of love with the humble Helvetica font, for example.

Talking ’bout my generation

However, there is more happening here than changing trends. Businesses themselves evolve far more rapidly and dramatically than they used to, and what the logo said about them 10 or 20 years ago might not hold true today. Look at it this way: Last year, The Who embarked on a three-month tour of North and South America. They played all the classics, but even the die-hard fans could not help thinking there was something a little ridiculous about the 74-year-old Roger Daltrey standing there in his skinny jeans singing My Generation, a song that was first released in 1965 to “encapsulate the angst of being a teenager.”

Larry Page and Sergey Brin are both in their mid-40s now, and Google has evolved from being an upstart company dreamt up by two students to one of the largest and most influential brands on the planet. In rock music, becoming something of a self- parody can add to the charm, but for a business, it can be tantamount to suicide, which is why the logo and branding must meet the evolving ethos. After all, with the possible exception of Daltrey and Townsend, none of us can be angst-filled teenagers forever.

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