Google the phrase “hipster X logo”.
Go ahead, I’ll wait…
What you see before you is pages upon pages of the “hipster X” style of logo. Some are done poorly, some are done well and some have even won awards from major design publications.
Now, flip through said major design publications.
What do you notice?
Maybe an overabundance of “retro”-style package design, straight from the 1890’s? Any inspirational messages drawn in chalk or India ink reminding you to “keep reaching” or promoting an upcoming theater show? The one thing that all of this work has in common, besides its technical mastery, is trendiness.
So, how does a design trend start? A few years ago, grungy ink splatters and swirly, floral elements were just as popular as “flat” mobile design and “hipster/retro” design is today. Pop culture, fashion, politics and economic landscapes are just some of the factors that can lead to the rise and fall of a trend. An element of what’s known as “Me Too” behavior can also be involved. If someone sees another company or designer having success using a certain style or technique, it’s only human nature to adopt some of that style for yourself. It’s something all designers are guilty of, including yours truly.
But, before you know it, you’re browsing the web and all the sites look the same. Download an app and you can’t distinguish it from others on your phone. Sooner or later, you can’t distinguish the logo for a new Korean restaurant from the one for that new bike shop that just opened.
Now, I’m not saying trends are bad. Trends are time capsules we can look back on that remind us of where we were as individuals, and as a society, during a certain point in time. They also influence what trends come next. A little bit of an old trend’s DNA can sometimes be seen in the one that follows. Or, the next big thing can be a complete one-eighty from the previous. If organic and fluid typography is big now, maybe in a few years rigid and ordered type will be in vogue. If, according to Pantone, Rose Quartz and Serenity is the color of this year, maybe it’s Neon Green the next.
But maybe, through the use of these trends and flavors-of-the-month, we’re really only looking for one thing: the right answer. One of my favorite designers and artists, James Victore, once said, “The only right answer is what you want to say about the subject, combined with the correct form for it to take.” Basically, the right answer is what’s right for the job and your client. Let the strategic brief and your own experiences influence the creative.
So, what happens when, even after all your research and thinking, you find your “right answer” actually is a little trendy? As long as you’ve read your brief, done your due diligence and decided your solution is what’s right for the job, a little trendiness never hurt anyone. After all, sometimes X really does mark the spot.