Even old, established companies are adopting a similar look—and it reveals the changing place of design in our modern worldby Harry Harris / December 18, 2018 / Leave a comment
Look around and you’ll see it. Adverts, posters and cover art are all using the same fonts—ones that have a clean, ordered look. Logos that have existed for years without undergoing drastic changes are suddenly being tweaked to fit what is apparently now a universal house style. Messaging from disparate worlds is being delivered in the same way. Everywhere, words are starting to look a little…well, flat.
The world of tech throws up some interesting examples. Recently, four of the biggest tech companies in the world—Google, Spotify, Pinterest, AirBNB—have all changed their branding in very similar ways. Pinterest shed its italics and its fancy ligature. Spotify lost its off-set O, which doubled up as a speaker. AirBNB changed its colour from a lurid blue to a softer pink, de-bubbling itself in the process. And Google carried on what it’s been doing since its first logo launched in 1998—over time, its colours have become more muted, the letters less embossed, they’ve lost a drop-shadow. Finally, in 2015, they removed the serifs.
You’d maybe expect this from modern companies. In moving from their old quirkier logos to these plainer designs, they’re evoking a sense of legitimacy, binning the bean bags and ping pong tables of the start-up world and going to work in tall buildings.
However, this pattern has played out with heritage brands too. A recent tweet showed five major fashion brands, with well-established visual identities, abandoning them wholesale and falling in line with the new status quo.
— JoRoan Lazaro (@JoRoan) December 13, 2018
Graphic designer and art director Gavin Day puts part of this change down to new technologies that these logos now need to appear on, and that originally logos would never have been designed for.
“The big giant subject is from analogue to digital,” he says. Brands are “moving away from grungy typography, or pencil lines, to clean, crisp digital screens, iPhone adverts and screen rendering.”
“It goes all the way back to the beginning of the twentieth century, with the move away from the Victorian, ornate, William Morris style, to be more about the future. It’s all about reusability and perfection, and less about individual quirks.”
Benefitting from this flattening out of design is Brandon Grotesque, a typeface developed by Dutch foundry HvD in 2010. It won the Certificate of Excellence…