Creating a flexible brand that works as successfully online as it does ‘in real life’ continues to be one of the biggest challenges for today’s designers. Brands are visible across many constantly changing environments and it’s really important that they they transition effectively across them all. It’s why so many big names continue to embrace new, flatter, stripped back versions of their logos.
As some of last years biggest rebrands demonstrated, pared back, simplified redesigns are here to stay. And for good reason. Today’s brands need to be flexible enough to work successfully across digital touchpoints and more traditional ones. Maintaining consistency across so many platforms is challenging, especially when working with 3D elements and embellishment. A flat logo helps to combat some of these issues and is far more flexible at every scale and application.
The move to flatter, simplified graphics is certainly not a new phenomenon. It’s a trend adopted by some of the biggest names over the last few years as they move towards creating a flexible brand. 2021 saw some great examples of big re-brands launching new flat versions of their logos. The Pringles man (by JKR) being one of the more notable ones. Re-drawn and simplified, 2021 introduced a flatter, fresher Mr. P. His trademark moustache refined and used as an icon in its own right.
Volvo also introduced a new, minimal look last year and in doing so joined a long list of car makers who have already made the leap towards creating a flexible brand. Vauxhall, Renault, BMW & Cadillac have all adopted a flat logo design in recent years. And all have dropped some of the recognisable elements from their previous, and often iconic ‘3D car crest’ designs. It has at times made for a controversial move. Stripping back a well loved brand without damaging its heritage has proven to be a tricky task in the past. However, done well, car manufacturers as well as other iconic chains have refreshed their brands really effectively in order to better embrace a digital (and electric) future.
As designers continue to strip everything back to basics it’s interesting to see which brands have made this change hand-in-hand with a nod to nostalgia. The two may sound at odds with each other but the combination, when it works, seems to remedy the potential loss in personality that can come with a minimalist design.
Burger King did a brilliant job of this last year and received much praise for its bright, cheery new look. The stripped back, flat design looses the reflective burger bun, replaced instead with a simple, rounded burger shape. Teamed with a rich, retro colour palette and 70’s feel, rounded serif font ‘Flame’ – the rebrand feels both comfortingly nostalgic and fresh and forward thinking at the same time. Delicious!
Creating a flexible brand for the future
Going forward I think we will continue to see much loved brands going through the minimalist treatment. Seeing how big names go about this change and still retain an affinity with its audience is a really interesting one. It’s safe to say that more is required from branding than ever before. And creating a flexible brand is key to having a strong and consistent online and offline presence.