Anybody who works in the field of marketing design will know that researching other logos and pages is critical in keeping up with the changing trends that permeate the web. Since what is popular is inexplicably decided and ever fluid, there is a risk of running behind if you don’t check regularly to see what is out there.
But in the last few years – and especially the last five or so – there are some design trends that are everywhere. This is generally because they are actually very good and easy to adapt to other changes in the marketing world. They are also able to be included in plenty of other more unique or new looks, which makes them basic style staples.
The problem is that this means they are overused. In particular, there are seven design basics that you will see all over the place, and you might want to keep an eye on if you want to try to use them yourself. Mainly because you run the risk of creating something that looks like any other logo or design that you will come across on the web. Who wants that? No one hoping to set their skills (or personal businesses and sites) apart from the pack, that is for sure.
Below are these seven trends that you have to be very careful if you decide to use them yourself.
1. Badges and Buttons
It used to be that you would see badges or buttons all over the web, and that wasn’t a surprise. It is a much more attractive way of presenting a gateway than an average link, especially with the dull, active and inactive text settings of the days or yore. You can also stack, line or place them in locations that are more pleasing to the eye, rather than just laying it out list a list or burying it in text.
Most commonly you will see these badges presented as bright, glittery boxes. They seem to shine thanks to the often-blended white gradient layers along with the block lettering and creative logo use. Since they appear to glow at you from the screen they can be really appealing.
But have you noticed who is using these the most? Companies such as Apple or social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have more or less monopolized the use of badges in the last couple of years. Need proof? Look at app download pages or the share buttons on blogs all over the web. It is almost a shock to see them used for anything else anymore.
This overuse added to brand association spells death to the badge and button as a multi-purpose design option for others.
2. Speech Bubbles and Megaphones
Social media and networking has presented a new way of communicating to people all over the world. Since that is its primary function on a user to user level (even marketing is within this line of usage), it stands to reason that speech bubbles and megaphones would be used in logos and banners.
After all, those are direct visual representations of what these sites have sought out to do.
But the idea of showing it to be a "talking" logo has become old and stale. I have lost count of how many companies use this now, and they all seem to look the same. It isn’t that a visual showing talking and listening can’t be utilized, but perhaps something a bit more creative than the now overdone comic-era speech bubble?
3. Fun With Opacity!
I think all designers have had their fair share of fun with the lovely Multiply and Overlay features in Photoshop? By changing the opacity of any layer you can create a really cool effect with next to no effort on your part. It can change the entire look of a logo in an instant, and might make the difference between something standard and boring and something elegant and well designed.
Possibly the most recent example of how this old technique is being utilized is in the Microsoft Silverlight logo, which was a beautifully done one that is immediately recognizable to even those who only occasionally use Internet Explorer as their browser.
Since it is so versatile and is a tool of design rather than a method, this once doesn’t have the same problem of becoming boring like some others on this list. But it is still easy to use the wrong blend of colors or shapes, which will be less than appealing.
4. Kawaii Illustration
I keep seeing these logos all over the place, especially when it comes to apps such as Seesmic and GitHub, two very adult, industry-oriented tools for power users looking for marketing opportunities on the web.
It is not something you would expect to see advertised by adorable, fluffy, giant eyed woodland creatures.
But lately they appear to be everywhere, and that in itself shows the popularity of the trend. No one seems to know what started it, but it doesn’t look like it will be going away.
The problem with using it is that if you are not very specific about how you are presenting it, the brand you are marketing might get lost in the cuteness that is the adorable animal.
Make sure to be clear about what it is attached to, and watch to make sure it is not too similar to those used by other companies and web apps.
5. Scripts, Slabs and Other Cool Fonts
I am going to take a wild guess and say you have used Archer more than once in a logo design. I don’t think there is a single designer among us who hasn’t, or used one very similar to the point of being almost indistinguishable. Since it was probably the most popular font of the last three years it would be silly to scold you for it.
But I will tell you to step away from the Archer now. Slab serif fonts are still a great tool, but keep in mind how often they are used and the way they have a tendency to make logos all look very similar.
Instead, try to go with a more unique, lesser used alternative to the old boys. If it is something you haven’t really seen before, use it! Try building a logo to fit the font rather than the other way around. This will give an immediate creative boost and set you apart with next to no additional effort.
6. Verdant and Plant-Inspired
In this case I am not going to say "be careful when using" this design choice. I am going to say to ‘be careful not using it’, because it a really ignored look. That is unfortunate because flora and fauna are great ways to present a natural and pleasant looking logo.
Depictions of nature give people a sense of ease, and even a plant related silhouette will seem warmer and inviting than many more modern and bare looking designs that have become the norm online.
But too much of flora is still no good.
What are these things? Seriously, they are lopsided and fit no actual shape known to man. They are somewhere between a rectangle and a trapezoid, and they are everywhere these days. Which is interesting, because symmetry was once considered a great ally to the designer, especially for logos.
The problem here is that quadrangles can appear so uneven that it gives an off-putting look to the entire logo. You have to balance it just right, and without proper color schemes, font and placement it just looks wrong. I have never personally liked one I have seen, though I can see why those who like fun and modern designs might get into it.
Tell Us Your Own!
There are so many trends out there we can’t keep up with them all. Which do you see that could be used correctly, and what ones are a flop? Let us know in the comments.