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Get Naked: Losing the skeuomorphism in your logo

flat design

So I probably got your attention at naked…but sent some of you off the rails at skeuomorphism. Skeuomorphism refers to how those designing graphical user interfaces (on everything from computers to vehicles to appliances) have used real world objects that are comfortably familiar to convey an idea. For example, a picture or symbol of a physical calendar represents your planner program on the computer or phone.

For those of us who were born before personal computers, skeuomorphism created a bridge into the digital world. However, those who teethed on tablets, smartphones and wearable technology, scorn skeuomorphism as stodgy. We can see their influence today in the flat graphics on our iPhones and Surface tablets.

It also carries through into the branding world with the trend toward flat logo design/redesign. Our familiarity and appreciation of the warm, fuzzy and tactile brought us logos like Hershey’s with highlighted letters and a 3D Hershey’s kiss; Olive Garden’s carved wooden sign; Mack Trucks’ chrome effect; and many more. Using computer-generated swag such as shading, drop shadows and 3D effects, designers imparted a lifelike presence that kept us in our comfort zone.

Now, we see companies rebranding with clean, flat fonts and graphic elements—no need for the trompe l’œil anymore. We have bonded with our non-tactile devices. (A recent post by Janil Jean, featured on the JustCreative blog shows some handy before and after visual references.)

However, the simple nature of flat design is not a new concept. We’re just coming full circle to the timeless, clean design that was championed in the late 1960s and 1970s by such iconic designers as Milton Glaser, Saul Bass and Paul Rand. Even before that the notion of less is more was bandied about by architect and designer Mies Van Der Rohe.

Clean, “flat” design is no fad, just a return to clear, memorable communication that impacts the viewer in a positive way. It may be time to assess and simplify your brand identity. Strip away embellishments that cloud communication and distract from your value. Dare to bare your brand’s soul. That will get attention.

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