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Why are brands stripping things back in an increasingly crowded world?

17th September 2018

Something is becoming clearer in the design world, brands are swapping their complicated logos for more simple, flat designs. Some of the biggest and most recent re-brands have applied this approach but it is important to ask the question of why is this happening?

Simplified MasterCard Rebrand

One example of this approach is Mastercard, whose once layered and detailed logo has been replaced by a simple minimalist spin of its predecessor. Of course, the new logo is very familiar, it retains the colours of the original and the overlapping circles. But the typeface has changed to a more rounded, all lowercase design. Pentagram, the creators, explain that this a nod towards the evolution of payment methods, that mastercard is one universal mode of payment, and the use of a card in commerce is not necessary anymore.

Another example is the popular accommodation sharing company, Airbnb. It is evident that the redesigned logo is a simplified version of what came before. The designers wanted to create a mark which ‘anyone could draw’, encompassing a key principle behind the brand as a whole.

Airbnb’s have taken a similar approach

With many brands making similar design decisions, It is interesting to wonder why this is the case. One reason is the rise of digital platforms, and making sure that logos can be perfectly visible on digital devices where they may appear as small icons. This evolution in brand placement has meant that developments have had to be made.

But another reason is that for brand visual identity, with the right execution, simplification can mean diversification. A simplified logo allows higher versatility in applications. However, brands that make this decision are usually those who already enjoy high brand awareness. Consumers are familiar with these brands. They chose to go conceptual in their logos. On the other hand, new brands often chose to be more literal in their logo selections to increase their relevance.

In the modern consumer world, a brand’s outfacing touch-points are never the logo alone; it is the overall layout that matters in creating impactful user experience. That being said, how a brand logo concentrates and leads the brand visual identities in an effective way is the question for every marketer to consider.

At Sanders, we are conscious of this when we are designing. Making sure that brands are future-proof and versatile is a key aspect of our design process.