Trademark design matters—5 new trends

Trademark design matters, because taste matters. Just ask Kanye West.

At this year’s Cannes Lions festival, the rapper, who has likened himself to Steve Jobs and now wants to redesign the Internet, told AdWeek, “I believe that bad taste is vulgar. It’s like cursing. I think the world can be saved through design. Because what is the most distasteful thing someone can do? Kill someone. So, good taste is the opposite of that.”

Okay, Kanye completely lost us at that bit about killing, but we certainly agree the world can be saved—or at least significantly improved—through design. And we agree that great design should reflect good taste. So this week we set out to follow the tastemakers in trademark design, highlighting some of the best styles, concepts, techniques and solutions in practice.

We’re talking logos, symbols, monograms, emblems and other graphic devices that irrefutably capture the essence of their brands. Expect to see a lot more trademarks like these in 2014 and beyond.

line craft

Trend 1: Line craft

Refined lines carry even weight in clean, continuous strokes. Line craft is often seen in crests and in combination with typography and illustrations. The look and feel is all about understated elegance, although the trend is still new and yet to be fully explored.

Trend 2: Letter stacks

stacked letters

This is a seemingly timeless trend that goes back to my days in design school. Line breaks appear between words. Upper case letters have the strength and affinity to be composed like building blocks. Words are arranged to create the illusion of shape. The letter stack trend works by drawing viewers in to interact with and discover the brand name for themselves.

Trend 3: Hand type


Hand drawn type has migrated from the printed page to just about everywhere in design. It can offer needed respite from the churn and uniformity of digital type. Handmade, homegrown and raw, this approach features meticulously executed forms that pay tribute to the versatility and beauty of good penmanship—making it trendy and timeless, as devoted followers and newbies continue to experiment with new variations.

Trend 4: Flat facets and geos

letterstack & facet

Think jewel cut graphics, geometrically symmetrical and constructed with straight-edged precision (look elsewhere for curves). The name of the game? Creating three-dimensional objects from a series of intersecting planes and gaining depth with shifting gradients or transparency. The beauty of this approach lies in marrying complexity with simplicity.

Trend 5: Links


Unlike facets, links are friendly and approachable—they have no sharp points. The links are used as building blocks, while overlapping transparent links show how multiple piped segments come together. This is a flexible approach, but at its core are strong bonds and circularity, almost always accompanied by bright, warm colours.

Trademark trends have a funny way of capturing our collective tastes and reflecting the spirit of the time. Misinterpreting that spirit could mean doing something in bad taste, and turning off customers. Just ask Kanye.