Just as each spring we emerge from hibernation and make an effort to tidy our winter dens, so businesses have occasion to reflect on their logos: “Can we clean up our mark a little? Are all of these colors, lines and letters really necessary, or is a streamline in order?”
The first quarter of 2015 has proven no exception; indeed, the simplified logo redesigns we have seen show that minimalism is more in style than ever. We think you will find these changes interesting, especially if you allow the question to arise: What really constitutes simplicity?
Consider, for example, the branding change of the Royal Albert Hall, a historic performing arts venue in London (old logo at left; new logo at right):
We would certainly call this a clean-up job: the new, extremely elegant logo consists of only 4 plain shapes, whereas the old one contains a detail-laden image. But at the same time, the old logo fits into a simple rectangular frame, while the new one has a more complex silhouette. What is more, the old one had only 2 colors (plus white), where the new one has 5. So is it really so much simpler?
Let’s keep this open question in mind while looking at some more.
Consisting of only two shapes, Integrated Research Limited’s new logo is a pretty radical simplification, though it does introduce a second color, as well as a touch of ambiguity (that “r” will not be easy for everyone to see right away).
OpenTable ditched both three dimensionality and linear perspective with its new logo, instead pushing a perfectly circular mark flat against the plane of the screen. While the form is sleeker, the imagery seems a little less lucid. Is that a doughnut and doughnut hole we’re looking at?
Sports logos have long been a holdout for maximal, detail-oriented logo design, but perhaps beginning with the Brooklyn Nets, we have seen a sea change toward simplicity. The Toronto Raptors have certainly followed suit, cutting back on detailed imagery and enclosing everything within one clean circle.
Not much room for debate on this one: Banco Popular of Spain not only purified its design, it lost an entire word! That said, the letter forms step in the other direction, gaining both serifs and a second case.
Here’s another borderline example. The new logo for AllianceBernstein, hence renamed simply “AB,” loses letters, serifs and a grey tone but gains a pair of parentheses, a dash and a framing square. As a whole, though, we think the new logo hangs together in a way that is much more economical and punchy—which is to say, simple.
Contrary to what their old, illustrated logo might bring to mind, the “Party for the Animals” is in fact a Dutch political party. The new version, consisting of the silhouette of a butterfly inscribed in a monochrome circle, will be much easier to replicate across stationery and party literature, not to mention being a touch more suitable for the political realm.
The United Soccer League took simplification in a decidedly retro direction, producing something reminiscent of Saul Bass’ work from the 1960s.
A very smart move on the part of Housing.com: take an uninspired, unwieldy web 2.0-looking emblem and reduce it to its most essential component—a roof (or, arrow, if you are so inclined). For a bit of fun, they’ve turned up the color tone and done a bit of glyph-play with the “H.”
We’re not sure when small towns like Covington, Kentucky, started hiring top-shelf agencies like Landor to do their branding work, but, well, here we are. The previous design is a traditional emblem, probably modeled after a detail-rich engraving. The new one replaces this stately, if somewhat unwieldy, image with one that is as simple as it is strange. Hello to you too, Covington …
When the Canadian Curling Association decided to rename itself simply as “Curling Canada,” the die was surely cast for its logo. In the new design, three images—maple leaf, player and stone—become two as the player disappears. The silhouette tightens up to fit within a conventional shield shape, and the block letters line up emphatically beside it to form a relatively neat rectangle.
Lord knows what those angular, beveled shapes on the old VeriFone logo were supposed to represent. A folded bank note? It looks like they finally realized that they had no idea, either, and chucked the whole thing in favor of a safe but effective color highlight.
Charleroi, a city in south Belgium, apparently decided its old emblem was a bit fussy for a mining town. The new mark pares it all down to a strong “C” in a bold, attractive red, crowned by a form recalling the mountains that distinguish the area’s terrain.
With this, Dailymotion says goodbye to its icon, opting instead for a simple wordmark logo. We’re sure the kerning took ages to get exactly right, but still, at the end of the day this is a pretty radical simplification.
How long did it take you to realize that that slanted line above the “e” in the new logo was an accent and not a slash? If you’re like us, the answer is “too long.” Which goes to show, a logo can trim all the fat—the cursive, the lips, the serifs—and yet wind up with something somehow less instantaneous in its impact. That’s not a value judgment in itself, but it begs the question, can one be said to be simpler than the other?