Read Part 1: Tablet-Centric, Part 2: Shrunken Heads, Part 3: Spacing, and Part 4: Sidebars.

We’re continuing our analysis of the new USAToday site design and coming trends for small business web design.  Today, we’re looking at trends in logo design.  If you’re really pressed for time, just skip to the end of this post and we’ll show you an exercise to “2013” your logo.

As businesses move more and more web-ward, we’re seeing a trend toward simplicity and size reduction.  Logo design used to begin with letterhead in mind.  Now, logos are designed with the web in mind.  The starting question is, How is the logo going to look and fit on the website?

Gone are the days of hi-resolution printed letter-head through which you could pull off nearly anything: multiple visual symbols, gradients, intricate artwork, fancy-schmancy type fonts, you get the idea.  The trend in logo design is toward clean, simple, strong solid colors, and small.  Our own logo is on the larger side, but it’s a simple design with a strong color impression.  (We have a smaller, horizontal version which we use for some applications.)

Web-ward: USAToday exemplifies the trend

Very strong brands like USAToday can get away with over-simplification. The lined-blue globe has been reduced to a solid blue dot.  Some brands are not even using their names on their websites.  Look for the word “Twitter” or “Target” next to their logos on their sites right now and you will not find it.  You will find that little bird and those red circles.  Enough said.  I could definitely see National Geographic going with that simple yellow rectangle and no words at all.  Facebook doesn’t use any type of shape or symbol at all.  They could get away with using that single “F” if they decided to.

I think what we’re seeing is a bit of an extreme in the pendulum swing.  Small businesses are not going to go as far as USAToday, Target, Facebook, or Twitter.  Small businesses will want and need to do a little more distinctive branding with their logo than those guys.  But the trend is in that direction.

How To Modernize: Squint & Squeeze

Here’s a super-simple exercise to use when 2013-ing your logo.  Pull your website up.  Squint your eyes nearly closed so that all you see is basic shapes and colors.  You just got rid of all the 1980 schnazz in your logo.  Now reduce the size of your logo by 1/3 to 1/2.

Presto.  You’re done.  Welcome to 2013.

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