Modern Design Trends for Car Manufacturers Logos

Societies departure from boot-cuts & bell-bottoms symbolized a societal shift in aesthetic, as designers began to favour something a little simpler. Fast-forward to today, and slim fitted/skinny jeans are the norm.

A similar shift can be seen in the world of car manufacturers: over the past century, they’ve been evolving their brand identity to suit the time period, often drawing heavy influence from the prevailing form of digital media at the time.

Now, you may be thinking “what do ugly jeans and old car logos have to do with my business?”. But it’s important to note that developing an understanding of how design trends change and evolve, increases your chances of successfully predicting similar changes in the future.

Let’s take a step back in time, around one hundred years back, when car manufacturers were starting to take off. Logo designs were very cluttered and detailed. This, at the time, was an important way to communicate who the brand was to their audience.

However, as the design technology available changed, so did the design trends. At its heart, design is about communicating a message as clearly and easily as possible. When I imagine a brand-new Mercedes with a logo from the 1920’s, it feels a little mismatched and not in-line with modern design standards. That’s the kind of feeling you want to avoid evoking in your customers by staying on top of design trends.

In recent years, there have been changes in car manufacturers logo design standards. This is largely due to the evolution of designing tools within the digital world. Since the introduction of technology back in the 80’s everything (including car logos) is becoming more digital based. Trends have shifted from the 3D chrome affects that used to demonstrate high-end digital design skills. As everything in the design world is becoming more simplistic with a flat, graphic styling, this trend has taken off in all areas of design. This design styling started in website design when Microsoft launched a flat graphic styling in 2012. Since then, many other companies (such as Apple) have followed this style.

Due to these changes in the digital design space, car manufactures are also making changes to keep up with the latest trends. MINI was the first to launch their new simplistic and flat graphic design in 2015. They scrapped the 3D chrome wing styling for a cleaner, simpler approach. Since 2015 other car manufacturers like Audi, BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Vauxhall, Citroen and many more have followed the same path.

So why flat graphic styling?

This styling increases contrast & awareness of space, is minimalistic, and the use of symbols/icons and bold colours draw the user in. This new era of logo design complies with modern design practices, fitting in with the digital based platforms/devices they’re likely to be displayed upon. It also opens new doors for the future of design, especially as the demand for electric cars continues to increase. One car manufacturer that has taken an extra step is Volkswagen (VW): they have added a digital aspect to their new logo, creating a light up logo on all its cars. This will create a highly futuristic look for the car brand’s logo & enable them to innovate and experiment in the area of logo design. Volkswagen say this new approach extends simple communication within the digital world.

So why hasn’t all car manufacturers followed this styling?

Just because something is trendy, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always the best option for your business. While many manufacturers have evolved their logo with the times, some have preferred to remain closer to their original designs: Mercedes & Jaguar, for example. Arguably the lack of a 2D logo hasn’t significantly affected either of these brands, so before making any changes to your design decisions, it’s important to consider whether these changes are suitable for your brand specifically.

I personally think the new flat graphic trend is the way forward. The styling is super-hot in the world of design, and I can see it staying around for some time now, especially in car logos. The designs have given a new life to car logos and the change in direction is what the car manufacturer world has needed. Until a new trend comes along then I think all car manufacturers should follow this design style, especially as more and more platforms and other businesses are doing the same.

In this designer’s humble opinion, I think the current flat-graphic trend will be the design standard for a considerable amount of time to come. These new minimalist, simple designs have given a new life to car logos and brought about a long overdue change in direction.

While it may not be necessary for your business to implement certain design changes, it’s still very important for businesses to remain up to date on the current design trends. Outdated design can make an organisation look out of touch and ultimately drive business away. Understanding where these trends come from helps businesses better equip themselves for the design trends of the future.

By Ryan Ford

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