Nike VCXC branding by Jon Contino.
We’re able to see those X-based logos together because the Internet connects everything, making it look like the world is one big box, but to each of us, life still takes its course in a limited area. Maybe all of those logos do their job for a small area and stand-out just as they are. Regardless, it’s no longer possible to have perfectly distinct logos for every business. You can hardly have that within a specific domain, much less cross-domain as it’s depicted in the case of Your Logo is Not Hardcore. Just because there are so many similar-looking logos doesn’t mean they’re not distinct.
Although this particular design direction looks like a fashionable decision to make, I’d argue that the form is quite generic. Maybe just as generic as a square or a circle. The X looks like the new square, and it feels rather natural for designers to make more use of a new geometric form. Even looking at the examples in this collection, you know that it’s a route that leaves room for innovation. Its versatility creates its own place in graphic design, representative of our period.
Fashion is a taboo subject for designers but maybe it should be looked at more closely. Fashion is about mass adoption of a certain mentality or a certain way of doing things. This means that fashion is a statement about the times in which we live — a statement that will be of value in 30 or 50 years from now. Just as we like motifs from other recent periods, this might grow into a classic of our time.
The downsides come through two means: one is that if you adopt ways that are fashionable today, you are already behind the flock. You’d be better off shaping the next best thing, but not everyone’s an innovator, and that’s fine. The second problem one might encounter is using fashionable shapes without having an understanding about what they mean. This can result in poor design that lacks coherence and intellectual content. But because the X stands for so many things, it’s difficult to mishandle.
We design symbols to last, but nothing lasts forever, really. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try, I’m saying that thinking about something with a life cycle seems more natural and might offer a different perspective within the process.
The form of these X-based logos can conjure thoughts of heraldry. So maybe it’s just an old habit with contemporary ways. But there’s one small glitch to this…
Similar-looking designs don’t work for us because we glance over them so quickly that we only grasp the main features. Crests come from a time where this just wasn’t the case. But maybe, just maybe we should consider slowing down a bit. It’s clear to us that logos won’t get more distinctive, so perhaps it’s us. Perhaps we should slow down and go into more detail, enjoy nicely crafted things, despite their vague resemblance to tons of other stuff. This calls for peace, thoughtful analysis, and a slower pace.
But it goes to show that maybe hardcore is not what a good logo should strive for.
You can view some of Andrei’s work on his website: Fabrica de Design.
Related, from the archives: When logos look alike.