Logo Design Love

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Hipster Branding

“I’m fed up with the latest design trend. Everything has to be ‘vintage’ style, type has to be centered, all-caps, or written calligraphically. There are lobsters, birds, ribbons, anchors, crowns, arrows, crests, and the famous X everywhere. Personally I like this kind of style. But slowly but surely these cliches are getting overused.”
— DAVE SPENGLER

McDonald's logo

Adidas logo

London 2012 logo

Twitter logo

Nivea logo

KFC logo

Hipster Branding: “Holding a mirror to the artsy community.”

By Swiss designer Dave Spengler.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

18 appreciated comments

  1. The irony, of course, is that some of these look quite good and could really work as brands, despite their predictability and simplicity.

    McDonald’s may be too generic, but Adidas does distil the essence of the three stripes in a rather pleasing way. Throw in a big corporate budget to burn it in and I do not see why it could not become a strong, well-known brand like the ugly contraptions they use today.

  2. Seb

    I’d rather this stuff than ambiguous Gotham Bold with a logo derived from triangles, paired with vibrant gradients.

  3. I agree with François — I actually like the Adidas version, and the rest look pretty good (even if generic). The KFC is the best at proving the designer’s point — that one is well done (gotta have the hipster glasses!) and funny. While the vintage style may be getting over-saturated, the style does result in flexible, adaptable and engaging logos most of the time, and it’s a nice break from the gradient-heavy, oddball shape logos we seem to get a lot of lately as well. I’d take a simplistic, and blunt mark over an abstract and heavy one any day.

  4. Zack McClean

    McDonalds is a definite “No”. Adidas, however, I join the consensus in adding my approval. The Olympics logo would better suit an overall brand, rather than one for a particular event. Change Nivea’s typeface and I’ll give it thumbs up.

  5. Amazing. My favorite is a toss up between the Adidas and the Kentucky Fried Chicken logo.

    The Adidas one is simple but to the point. I can feel the agility of the type right off the bat.

    The KFC logo just screams chicken without actually showing a chicken. The way the type flows so smoothly is a really nice touch.

    Great article!

  6. meredith

    Overused and cliche designs are overused for a reason. They work. The elements and principles of design that we learn in art school are simple and direct; balance, harmony, repetition, etc. are basic principles in all art and can be quickly identified in “good” design.

    Symbolism, is used in virtually every aspect of our cultures, religion, education, road signs, etc and the power of symbolism is clear in how effective international symbols (such as men and womens toilets) are.

    To me the purpose of graphic design is communication. Quick, clear communication of complex ideas is best expressed in simple terms that everyone can understand. That is why some logos can be identified and reproduced by even illiterate people. dispite the fact that they don’t quite get the full implications or nuances of a logo. Doves, heart shapes, stars, crosses, etc may be seem to be overused but in fact these symbols communicate complex ideas such as emotion, religion, or concepts such as success or freedom clearly and instantly and that is what a company wants…they want people to know what the business does even if their logo is only seen for 30 seconds or less as one passes on the street.

    Every designer wants to be “original” But originality should never become so important that it impedes quick clear communication. centered, all caps, Xs, crowns and anchors are good design if the communicate clearly.

  7. Peter X.

    All cliches come from originality – after they are overly used or abused. It happened to Helvetica, now it is Gotham. The challenge for designers still remain the same – solve communication problems with effective and surprising designs, and unfortunately this is only getting more and more difficult. The only one that works for me in the above examples are the olympic logo, the rest of it are just mediocre.

  8. Drew

    Are you guys serious? These are all horrible. These aren’t even good examples of the ‘hipster’ branding.

    The thing that really annoys me with this ‘hipster’ movement in design is so much of the designs that are being put out arent even taking in to consideration the client, the demograph, or the objective. We’re just designing based on trends. Not one of these reflects the personality of the brand. We’re creating graphics rather than logos now days.

    Meredith brings up some great points. Points that a lot of times I agree with. But its not always about being literal. Apple doesnt use a computer icon as their logo and they dont need to. Its about creating an identity that is unique to you. And in that, you create a brand that is memorable.

    These are just my random thoughts. I like that we have community that challenges each other in our creativity.

  9. Paul

    Cute logos and a bit of fun. but I completely agree with Drew here.

    Mirroring what Drew says, I don’t think this really applies so much to logos anymore. These days they are purely the faces of corporations with which people build relationships… so ‘simplicity’ for memorability’s sake is a bit unrealistic in todays over saturated world… it needs to hold a persona.

    Also, clichés aren’t always bad, if it succeeds at doing what it needs to then isn’t that what design really is? I think the bigger problem is when clichés are used purely for aesthetic or personal reasons without a real objective.

  10. Adam

    Any of these could be printed on a t-shirt and would do well at Urban Outfitters. I wouldn’t use them on a storefront (etc), just release them into the consciousness as part of fashion.

  11. Every time area has its statement, and I personaly think that in general hipster trends are nice and one of the “prettiest” – but that’s it; if you don’t have wider concept in consideration of graphic communication, no trends will help you. These trends are just a facade and you have to build a strong construction underneath no matter what kind of facade you like.

  12. Anon

    @Drew, I think you’re missing the point! These are parodies, ‘holding up a mirror to the artsy community’. Of course they don’t reflect the brands, plenty of graphic designers are just doing ‘the trends’, either to satisfy the client’s needs (don’t judge them for selling their souls a little bit, we all need money to live!) or because they’re genuinely shallow.

    Talking about Apple, Steve Jobs implied in interviews that he basically got the name from the Beatles, so first of all, that name isn’t original either. Of course, they only ran in to difficulties with the Beatles when they dropped ‘Computers’ from their name and started to sell music. They’re logo is an apple, so therefore it is literal and your point is moot.

    I think these are really funny and well-executed, well done Dave, a very accurate ‘mirror’!

  13. Anon

    their logo*

    Sorry, my bad, got so passionate I wrote the wrong thing!

  14. Billy

    Does anyone know what the font used in the British American Tobacco logo is?

  15. Dougal

    Thank God for Drew! Nice one mate – banf on comments. The rest of you guys need to be looking into branding not looking in to your underpants. These logos bear no resemblance whatsoever to the clients, the product or customer demographic. They do not indicate or communicate anything meaningful and do not at all deliver an iconic mark that will resonate with a demographic group.

    Well done again Drew for being the voice of reason.

  16. Brian

    McDonalds looking artisanal ? I don’t even…

  17. Bo

    I agree with @Anon. These designs have hit the nail on the head. I live in Leeds and pretty much every new design, media, arts related ‘pop up enterprise’ has a vintage minimalist logo… and so do all the pubs, bars, cafe’s etc they have designed for. It’s just fashion! In a few years there’ll be a new trend and everyone can get all hot under the collar about how that’s been rinsed to the point of nausea!

  18. newman

    Creating a good logo takes time. “Hipster logos” or whatever you want to call them are created in minutes.


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