Minimalism in Logo Design – History, Benefits, Elements & Re-branding

by Christiaan
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Minimal Logo Design

Deciding the kind of logo you want for your business can be tricky and difficult. However, there is one quick solution which will save you time, competition and give your brand a contemporary look. And the solution is… MINIMALISM! Incorporating a minimalist approach into your logo will not only make your brand look sophisticated but also put you way ahead of your competitors. 

But, what really is minimalism?

Minimalism, simply put, is a design approach that uses existing elements, simplicity and maximum use of space.

Influenced by the Bauhaus culture, minimalism is a result of the modernist movement of the 1960s. Bauhaus culture rejected intricate and lavish compositions for more down-to-earth creations.

Minimal compositions are extremely catchy and can be found everywhere including paintings, dance, films, theatres, music, photography and of course , LOGOS!

Our brains simplify complex images and structures to store them in the memory, which is why minimal creations are always a hit. A logo can be retained in the mind of the consumers for a very long time if minimalism is incorporated in a logo design.

A brief history of minimalism

The Japanese were the first to use intentional minimalism in their creativity. The concept of “ma”, which roughly means “the space between two objects”, is greatly applied in Japanese design aesthetics.

The De Stijl (Dutch for “The Style”) movement which was headed by painters Theo Van Doesberg and Piet Mondrian along with architect Gerrit Reitveld, saw the rise of minimalistic concepts. The movement embraced the concept of abstract harmonic compositions and geometrics. The De Stijl movement is the foundation of modern minimalist aesthetics.

Re-branding towards minimalism

Modern businesses in the 1900’s used logos only to convey the company name. The concept of branding was relatively new and companies did not invest much into marketing their brands. As companies grew, so did competition; companies started using brain power into branding. The competition gave birth to the first well thought out logo designs. These designs helped the brands set themselves apart from the crowd.

As we moved into the 21st century, companies began to modernize their logos. The best of brands gave their logos a minimalistic makeover. From Ford to Google and from FedEx to McDonald’s all gave their brands the much deserved minimal logos.

Modern logos are minimalistic and simple. A lot of brainpower is used in making a minimalistic logo. Companies and brands invest a lot of time and money for a great minimalistic logo.

What are the benefits of minimal logos?

Simple and elegant, minimal logos have the power to connect instantly. These logos pack a powerful punch right on the face of the customers. A clutter free logo has a deep impact on the user’s mind since it is refreshing and registers quickly. Minimalism indeed is a golden key which only the best designers possess.

The brain simplifies even the complex of structures. Minimalism uses this very theory to create the simplest of designs. Minimal logos are simple yet classy and can help in setting any brand apart from the crowd.

The benefits of minimalistic logos are as follows:

  • Extremely easy for the customers to remember
  • They are elegant and attention grabbing
  • They deliver an equally powerful punch on smaller mobile screens
  • Easily sets your brand apart from the rest

Some of the world’s most famous companies have used minimalistic logos for their brands. These brands realized the power of minimalistic designs and have used them to their benefit. 

Top 5 famous brands with minimal logo design

1.   Apple

The original logo design of Apple was considered extremely complicated. The logo depicts the story of an apple falling on Isaac Newton’s head which eventually led to the discovery of gravity. The co-founder of Apple, Ronald Wayne, designed the logo as a tribute to Isaac Newton. 

Apple did some tweaking to come up with the brilliant minimalistic logo we know today. The rainbow was replaced with a glassy look and a gradient shade which gave the logo a sophisticated look. The insignia of Apple today is a symbol of innovation, creativity and trust.

2.   Airbnb

Airbnb connects people renting homes or rooms to people out on business trip or vacation. The Airbnb logo and app are recognized by millions worldwide and have played a huge role in the brand’s success. The logo has changed over the years, as is the case with many companies that have evolved over time.

Airbnb’s monogram is a fantastic lesson for logo designers as it shows that minimalist does not necessarily mean uncreative. The interesting looking symbol is a combination of four images. The teardrop shape at the center signifies a person’s head and implies that the company is people-oriented. The teardrop is also the shape of a location icon and signifies connectivity. The inverted heart symbol is also the company’s first letter, “A”, and signifies love and compassion. The company insignia of Airbnb is truly marvelous and next level.

3.   Uber

The “sharing economy” concept has taken the market by storm and has given rise to truly innovative businesses around the world. Uber is the undisputed emperor and showing other companies how the concept of “sharing economy” can be used the right way.

Uber’s logo is truly amazing and is a great example of applying minimalism to a wordmark logo. As opposed to using a monogram, Uber applied a simple font with great visual effect.

Wolff Olins has designed the fantastic new logo of Uber. Molly Watson, director of Wolff Olins San Francisco, said that the new logo was designed keeping in mind Uber’s growth.

There is absolutely no doubt that the new Uber logo will play a crucial role in the company’s marketing and branding, which is why Uber has spent sleepless nights in getting all the elements in the right place  as far as the design aesthetic is concerned. 

Keeping up with logo design trends and new logo styles, top labels have always adapted to changing times. A Brand and a logo creator must work together to come up with a logo concept that would not only provide information about the business but would play a vital role in brand recognition.

4.   Nike

One of the best examples of minimalism in logo design is that of Nike’s. The ‘swoosh’ is a prime example of a minimalistic logo that has gone on to become timeless.

Believe it or not, the designer of the emblem, Carolyn Davidson, only received a meagre $35 for the design. Still a student, Carolyn envisioned the Greek goddess Nike while designing the logo.

The ‘swoosh’ has not changed much since it was first designed in 1971, but it has gone through several upgrades.

But, what is so special about the Nike emblem? One of the most powerful logos in the world, Nike’s emblem is simple, modern and regal. The logo also has successfully managed to stay relevant through the years. Minimal, amazing and timeless, Nike’s logo has truly stood the test of time.

5.   Louis Vuitton

Established in 1854 in France, Louis Vuitton is a luxury lifestyle and one of the biggest names in the fashion industry. Louis Vuitton is engaged in making high end fashion garments for both men and women along with cool accessories.

The Louis Vuitton monogram is one of the most recognized in the world. Bold and elegant, the Louis Vuitton emblem does not cease to amaze designers even today. The minimalist logo was designed 1954 and has been in use since then. The straight “V” and the italicized “L” makes the minimalistic logo one of the most iconic symbols in the world. The fashion industry giant truly has one of the best minimal logos in the world.

How to bring minimalism to your design?

The two golden words for minimalist creations are space and lucidity. More and more companies are advertising their labels based on the fundamental concepts of minimalism. Though space and lucidity are the golden keywords for minimalist designs, there are various other elements a designer can incorporate to make an amazing piece of artwork. Key elements like fonts, colors and shapes can be used to create amazing minimalist logos.

A minimalistic logo may look simple, but it takes years of hard work and dedication to create these awesome looking logos.

Let us look into some key elements which will help you make amazing minimal logos:

Simplicity while creating logotype

One of the easiest types of brand emblem is the logotype. A logotype only has the company name without symbols or graphic designs of any kind. The most important element in a logotype emblem is the font. Your choice of fonts will dictate how the minimalist logotype will turnout. Some of the biggest labels in the world have used minimalist logotype as their company emblem. Think of Google, Uber, Philips or Disney, they are all minimalistic logotypes.

One of the best ways to go about designing a minimalist logo is to create a logotype with lucidity at its core. Simplicity is a key element in any minimal design.

Removing extras

If you want to design a great looking minimalistic logo, then start by removing all the clutter.

Space is a key element in achieving a great looking minimalist logo. You must allow your design to breathe. Does your existing logo have unnecessary outlines, symbols and taglines? Start by chopping what you don’t need. Remember, less is more! Minimalist logo will not be minimalist if your design is cluttered. The idea is to have only the right elements in the design.  

The intricate looking tree from Cadbury is gone and so has all the elements that cluttered the design and the result is an elegant looking minimalist logo!

Lines and Squiggles

Lines form the basis of the design concept. Whether straight or curved, lines can take any design to the next level. A good logo designer can create minimalistic and ultra cool designs just by using lines.  

Lines can be used vertically, horizontally or diagonally and can portray multilayered meanings. Squiggles too can be great for creating original and minimalistic emblems. The fantastic thing about squiggles or irregular lines is that they can take any form. Line and squiggles are great for minimalistic designs.

Use geometric shapes as inspiration

A logo designer can take an idea or be inspired by geometric shapes. If used intelligently, geometric shapes can do wonders for your brand image. A geometric shape alone has the power to impact your target audience. Just like colors, geometric shapes have varied psychological effects in our brain.

When various geometrical shapes are merged with different colors, the result can be outstanding. Great minimalist logos have been created by using geometrical shapes alone. Seasoned designers understand how circles, triangles and squares work and use them effectively to enhance brand image.

3 inspiring geometric shapes

1.   Circle

A highly symmetric form, the circle is considered to be the ultimate geometric shape. The circle is associated with spiritual growth and enlightenment. Symbolic of cyclic movement, the circle represents totality and fulfilment. Since the circle has all the attributes that attract people, it never goes out of trend. From Audi to Olympics, all have used circles as their emblem. Highly minimalistic, circles are favored by creators who are looking to make amazing logos. So, if you are looking for a powerful minimalistic logo for your business, circles are your best bet.

2.   Square

If circles symbolize spiritual growth then squares portray physical balance. The square also represents balance and structure along with giving a sense of reliability and security. Designers and brands use square because it portrays a sense of protection.

Square is a very common choice, so designers must be innovative to avoid the risk of creating a generic design. Spicing up squares with various colors can save you from creating a common looking logo design. However, the color schemes should not contradict or alter the message the brand wants to portray.

3.   Triangle

A powerful visual shape that can communicate your brand story, triangle is used to convey the message of hierarchy, stability and improvement.  Though far less popular than square, logo makers use it for minimal designs that portray innovation and progress. Triangles have not only been used for making interesting logos but also used in architecture due to its stability. Shrouded in mystery, the triangle also signifies mysticism and occult. Triangles also have deeper spiritual connotations as it portrays the union of body, mind and soul; the three points of the triangle. However, if the feeling of comfort and protection is to be conveyed using squares over triangles is advised. 

From small businesses to large corporates, minimal logos have helped companies get the brand identity they have always wanted. It is needless to say that minimal designs make some of the greatest visual arts. Logo makers must always have “minimalism” in their menu of designs.

Great logos are a work of art and take a lot more than just knowing the craft of designing. A designer should bring in foresight and wisdom to his craft.

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