We’ve all heard the saying, less is more. Well, when it comes to minimalist logo design that is not only true, but kind of the whole point. A great minimal logo needs no explanation. It speaks for itself, and for the business it represents. It works anywhere, at any size and is immediately recognisable.

The importance of a logo to a company really can’t be overstated. It’s the first thing you see when you come into contact with a company’s branding. It’s the design equivalent of saying hello, look at me. It is the first impression, and as we all know, first impressions count.

Common characteristics of a minimalist logo design

So, what makes a minimalist design different from other styles of logo? Well, minimalism tends to share these common traits:

  1. Simple colour scheme. Minimalist logos don’t tend to have vast colour pallets. They don’t have to be black and white, they can be bright, but the colours used must be simple and engaging.
  2. Negative Space. Negative space is usable space. When used intelligently, negative space is what helps designers keep the simplicity required to be truly minimal.
  3. Geometric shapes. Squares, circles and triangles are a common feature of minimalist logos, and quite often it is the nuance of how the shapes interact with each other that becomes the focal point of the design.
  4. Daring typography. Minimalist wordmarks frequently use heavy, bold fonts or slim, lowercase letters. Both styles give a sleek, modern aesthetic perfect for this type of design.

You may be asking yourself, what makes minimalist logos so effective? Well, think about the world we live in and how much we visually consume every single day. The world is so vivid and loud that it’s actually the simple things that make us stand up and take notice. Often, what captures our attention more, is a design that doesn’t try to demand it.

So, let’s get inspired to become more minimal by checking out these 5 iconic minimalist logo designs. 

1. Apple

The apple logo is probably one of the best examples of a minimalist logo there is, and has long been established as one of the most recognisable and sleekest, logos in the world. It perfectly achieved what Steve Jobs wanted, which was for the Apple name and logo to be fused as one. It is a logo which truly speaks for itself and conveys the personality of the company it represents.

However, that wasn’t always the case. The first logo, designed by Ronald Wayne, consisted of Isaac Newton sitting under a tree with the ‘famous’ apple about to fall on his head. This logo, although clever, is far from minimalist and was found to be too distracting and impractical.

Then, in 1977, Rob Janoff sat in front of a bowl of apples and began sketching. He was searching for a simple silhouette, and boy, did he find it. The famous apple with the bite out of it. There are many theories on the bite. The most famous being that the bite out of the apple was a play on the word ‘byte’. However, in a 2018 interview Jannoff confirmed that the bite came out of the apple so it didn’t look like a tomato or cherry and the fact that that the bite could be interpreted as computer ‘byte’ was “just a happy accident’.

A fact, that although slightly disappointing, does nothing to take away from the simple brilliance of what he created, which is a memorable and scalable logo, recognised throughout the world.

2. Nike

The famous Nike swoosh is probably one of the most famous examples of a minimalist logo design in the world, and is a great demonstration of how a simple design can have real substance.

The logo was originally designed in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson in just 17.5 hours. She did so at the request of Nike founder, Phil Knight and was paid the princely sum of $35. Unbelievable, right? What is even more unbelievable, is that at first Knight didn’t like it. He politely asked Davidson if she had anything else to show him. The design world can breathe a collective sigh of relief that she didn’t.

The swoosh was designed to represent a wing and plays on the brands namesake, The Greek Goddess, Nike, also known as the ‘Winged Goddess’. She represents speed, strength and victory. It is an example of the name of the brand being as well thought out as the logo that accompanies it.

The genius of Nike’s logo and the brand as a whole isn’t just that it has become a globally recognisable quality sportswear brand, but that the swoosh symbol itself has become synonymous with achievement and success.

3. Mastercard

In 2019, Mastercard unveiled its latest logo redesign with one major change… the removal of its name from the logo, leaving only the distinctive overlapping circles. After conducting nearly two years of research, Mastercard found that 80% of the respondents recognised the brand even though the brand name was missing, which gave them the confidence to continue the logo’s evolution.

This has ultimately led to a logo that is simple and scalable and means that Mastercard is now part of an elite group of brands, like Apple and Nike, who are represented by a symbol alone.

It also has to be said that one of the best things about the launch of the updated logo, was how it was announced on social media. In the Facebook post showcasing the new logo, Mastercard said, “We usually don’t like to name drop, but we think we can make an exception…”.

An example of great marketing, as well as great minimalist logo design.

4. Airbnb

Designed in 2014, this iteration of the Airbnb logo is an awesome example of minimalism. The logo is made up of two parts, the name, which is a customised version of Lineto Brown typeface and the symbol, which is a single, flat looping line.

Airbnb has nicknamed the symbol ‘Belo’, and says it represents “the universal symbol of belonging”. It was designed to showcase their four key principles, people, places, love, and airbnb. The beauty of this is that once you have seen the thinking behind it, you will never unsee it. You appreciate the symbol on a totally different level, which is one of the reasons that the marketing team released a explanatory video when it was launched.

Pretty impressive, huh? One memorable symbol that perfectly encapsulates the brand’s ethos and personality. Something recognisable even without the name next to it. It is extremely rare for modern designers to develop an icon that is immediately identifiable like this. But, Airbnb has certainly pulled it off.

5. BMW

In March 2020, BMW launched a new two-dimensional, scaled back communications logo, which marks the biggest change to the company’s brand in 100 years.

There have been two major changes made to the previous 1997 logo. The first, the removal of the 3D effect on the logo. The second, the removal of the black outer ring, leaving a transparent, white edged background in its place.

Composition wise, the logo has stayed pretty much the same. There has been some font and padding changes, but the aforementioned changes are the most profound and a great example of how reducing a logo back to its bare essential elements can really modify it and increase its ease of use.

Senior vice president of customer & brand, Jens Thiemer, has said, “The new design is better suited to the digital age”.

The need to equip a brand with a logo that can be effectively used in digital communications seems to be the driving force in the move towards minimalism that is being demonstrated in the automotive industry. It can be argued that BMW took their lead from Volkswagen, who launched a stripped back version of their logo last year.

Minimalism has certainly made their logos more versatile, which not only makes their brands more aesthetically pleasing, but also makes it easier for them to more effectively market themselves on all communication platforms.

Ready to get minimal?

Have you become inspired to bring more minimalism into your designs? Let us know what you think.

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