Logos are one of the strongest components of a brand. From establishing brand identity to fostering brand awareness, logos play a crucial role in setting your brand apart from the crowd.
As an art form, logo designing requires sincerity and devotion as painting, composing a song, or acting on stage.
In the business world, logos can help brands communicate important information and promote brand identity.
So, one can safely conclude that logo designing is both art and business science.
And just like music and fashion, logos have their trends. According to a group of design gurus, flat designs may have gone too far. However, some experts believe that logo designs tend to have their cycles. Going by the theory of design cycles, the minimal logo design trend evolved out of skeuomorphism—design elements, which are a part of creative work but can be done without. And retro designs could be the trend to evolve out of the minimalistic logo fad.
What are retro logos?
The word “retro” signifies “backward” in Latin. In the modern context, the term denotes something fashionable or culturally significant in the past but faded through the passage of time.
Retro logos are defined by rich colors, symmetrical and linear designs. The retro pop culture, such as poster design and retro advertising, contributed heavily to the emergence of the style. Retro-futurism that combined science fiction and retro also contributed heavily to the growth of the design category.
Despite its rich history, the retro style has been out of the mainstream culture for decades. However, design gurus feel that since logos follow cycles, the current trend of minimalism in logo designs could give birth to the retro logo design trend soon.
Stamp and badges
Stamp and badges are a classic theme in retro logo designs. Designers often turn towards basic shapes like circles, ovals, and shields to create vintage logos that are attractive and create an impact on the audience. Designers tend to choose these shapes because they make the design look attractive and professional.
Badge-style retro-looking logos are perfect for brands that aim to attract customers who use the image of their product or services online. These types of emblems also work best for brands that want to highlight their “old school” characteristics.
Badge-style vintage emblems are also a good choice if your brand creates hand-made products.
The early century lacked the technological prowess we boast of today, which is why they depended on depicting strong imagery to attract customers through their logos.
Some of the most popular logos of the time were those that had axes, hammers, factories, workers, and so on. These images were clearly the effects of the industrial revolution.
Today, technology has become more sophisticated, and people have largely moved from axes and hammers to cubicles. Retro logos with animals, industrial equipment, and the outdoors suggest freedom and depict simpler times.
Hand-made items are quickly making a comeback. More and more people today are abandoning toxic factory-made products for organic homemade items. The same is true for logos. After decades of being in exile, hand-drawn logos are coming back into trend. Hand-drawn logos are perfect for brands who want to showcase their nature-friendly and toxic-free characteristics.
For graphic designers, hand-drawn logos provide an opportunity to highlight and showcase their artistic talents. Hand-drawn designs are like a breath of fresh air, attracting the audience instantaneously.
Flat designs are trending now, which is why good designers integrate retro design elements into minimal logos.
Shapes and color schemes
Various geometrical shapes and bright colors can provide that 1950s and 1960s retro look. The two decades in question saw people experimenting with almost everything. From advertising to designs to films, people were revolutionizing conventional art forms with new elements.
Shapes and colors are said to evoke varied emotions. The 50s and 60s used psychedelic and avant-garde art to depict the inner psyche of a human being: the concept was widely adopted by advertisers and marketers of the day.
If your brand is about spiritual and physical healing, you can try the retro psychedelic look for your brand’s visual identity.
Typography is one of the most vital components of a retro design. The designers from yesteryears used hand-lettering or specific fonts to get the desired looks. The size, space, and choice of fonts will determine how attractive your retro logo turns out to be.
The space between the borders and the fonts will determine how fascinating your vintage logo appears. Using the borders creatively is the key to designing an attractive retro emblem.
The combination of the right fonts and colors in relation to the border is crucial to creating a vintage-looking emblem.
Pro tips: If you have a specific period in your mind, which you feel can enhance your brand identity, you should research the fonts and the colors that were popular then.
Benefits of using a retro logo
Now that you know the various categories of retro logos, let’s explore how using a vintage-looking logo may benefit your company.
One of the reasons brands invest a substantial amount of their time and money to create an effective visual identity is to ensure that they can grab the attention of the audience. People are easily attracted to these logos because these emblems use a combination of bright colors and easy-to-understand shapes.
Retro logos evoke feelings of nostalgia. While it is true that the world has developed sophisticated technology in recent times, the artistry of the yesteryears is somehow missing today. With retro logos, graphic designers can show their artistic side coupled with the power of technology—a potent combination.
A retro logo deploys imagery that is both fun and impactful. The use of bright colors such as yellow and orange evokes youthful energy, grace, joy, friendship, optimism, and excitement. You can also turn towards a retro design if you want to highlight the call-to-action of your brand. If your brand is associated with the beauty industry, fashion, or photography, you can consider using a retro logo.
Easy to understand
A retro logo leaves no room for ambiguity due to its straightforward nature. One of the main elements of retro logos is that they are direct. For example, if your brand deals with cars, a retro logo would have an image that would depict cars in some way.
The purpose of a logo is to create a connection between the audience and your brand. The best logos are the ones that can easily be recalled by the audience. Retro logos have a high memorability quotient. They can easily stick in your customers’ minds because of their uniqueness.
Top 10 retro logos of all time
The following retro logos have remained in the public consciousness since the time they were first designed. These emblems have stood the test of time and influenced innumerable logos designed after them. Let’s explore.
- Eastman Kodak
Founded by George Eastman and Henry A. Strong in 1827, the Eastman Kodak Company held a commanding position in the photographic film industry. Today, the company focuses on graphic communications and functional printing.
Introduced in 1907, the Kodak emblem may not be the best example of a retro logo, but it was the first of its kind. The monogram within a circle has been adopted by numerous brands across the world.
- Columbia Pictures
Founded by brothers Jack and Harry Cohn and partner Joe Brandt in 1918 as Cohn-Brandt-Cohn Film Sales Corporation, the company adopted the name Columbia Pictures in 1924. The company that began as a small Hollywood production house has become the world’s third-largest studio today.
The Grecian torchbearer logo was adopted by the Hollywood giant in 1926. While there have been several redesigns, the Grecian lady was left untouched. The Columbia Pictures logo is synonymous with high-quality films and outstanding cinematography.
- Ford Motor Company
Founded in 1903 by Henry Ford, the Ford Motor Company is headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, United States. Ford is the fifth-largest automaker in the world. In the 2018 Fortune 500 list, the American-based automaker was placed eleventh.
The visual identity of one of the biggest automakers in the world is simple and relevant. The wordmark associated with the brand is actually a version of Henry Ford’s signature. While the company changed its visual identity a number of times, the Ford script has remained the same. From Kellogg’s to Disney, all use a signature-based logo, but it was Ford that did it first.
Mercedes-Benz is a German-based luxury auto brand, which is headquartered in Stuttgart. Founded by Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, Mercedes is the largest seller of premium luxury vehicles in the world.
The Mercedes-Benz logo is probably one of the most popular retro logos in the world today. The logo comprises a three-pointed star within a circle. The star was hand-drawn by co-founder Daimler. In a postcard to his wife, Daimler mentioned that the star would bring prosperity to his business one day!
Related: Top 15 iconic logos that speak louder than words
American cable channel, MTV, made its debut in 1981. The channel primarily focused on music videos during its initial days; however, it now produces reality shows for young adults. The first video that aired on MTV was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
The MTV logo has gone through several changes since its inception. However, the trademark “M” has always been an integral part of the logo. The logo is associated with youthful energy, creativity, and music.
Here is The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star”
Founded in 1909, Chanel, the French luxury fashion house, focuses on women’s apparel, accessories, and luxury items. From Nicole Kidman to Marilyn Monroe, some of the most popular celebrities have been the brand ambassador of Chanel.
The Chanel visual identity is amongst the few in the world that has remained unchanged since its inception. The logo is composed of two intertwined mirrored Cs that represent the company’s founder Coco Chanel.
Founded by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight in 1964, Nike is the most valuable brand in the sports business sector. Designed by Carolyn Davidson for $35, the Nike swoosh logo is one of the most iconic emblems in the world today.
- Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter is not really a logo, but she influenced generations of designers and marketers to be innovative with their ideas. Rosie represented the working women of America during World War II. J. Howard Miller created the poster in 1942.
- Twinings Tea
Introduced in 1706 and owned by Associated British Foods, Twinings began operating from No. 216, Strand, London, and is in continuous use. The company logo is also the world’s oldest logo in use to date.
- Stella Artois
Founded in 1366 in Leuven, Belgium, as Den Hoorn Brewery, Sebastian Artois bought the establishment in 1708. The Stella Artois emblem is the oldest in the world. While the brand changed its visual identity several times, the horn symbol stayed in most redesigns.
Building a brand identity will not only help your business reach a wider audience but will also enable you to separate yourself from the crowd. A logo holds an important position in the brand identity hierarchy. A retro logo design combined with the latest minimal trends can make you look invincible.
Head of Design at DesignBro and is responsible for UI/UX Design, managing the global designer community, and ensuring quality levels of both designers and designs remain high.