is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
LogoLounge is a database of over 200,000 logos, amassed with the intention of creating “a more efficient way to find reference material for logos.” It’s exactly the kind of laudable idea that the Internet makes possible — in the analog age, even knowing what logos were out there was an impossibility.
But the fact that a connected network of logo designers makes such a thing possible doesn’t necessarily make it good. The site charges for both access to its searchable database and for the privilege of contributing to its catalog. It’s a policy that surely deters spam but that I would imagine inhibits comprehensiveness too. It’s also worryingly reminiscent of the pay-to-play tactics of the pre-Internet design community, when publishers would reap healthy profits from entry fees for design competitions that were little more than advertising opportunities for designers.
The LogoLounge team deserves credit for their ambition, anyway, as they apparently believe enough in their own authoritativeness to produce an annual logo trends report; the 2014 edition is now online. The reports seem to be largely subjective, though based on presumably careful review of the past year’s submissions by the site’s staff. Again, this is a laudable idea with a not entirely convincing execution. The trends identified in the reports are visual tropes that are not easily quantified; they’re all based on qualitative evaluations of their execution. More problematically, the specific examples presented as evidence in support of each trend are taken at face value, with little context. There’s no economic, geographic or semantic information, so that a mark created for a two-week festival has equal weight with a new logo created for a decades-old company.
Actually, it’s probably unfair to expect FiveThirtyEight-level insights into a discipline that is largely predicated on emotional criteria, and should probably remain so. The fact that LogoLounge is undertaking an effort to produce a more macro view of the art form deserves praise. The trends they identify may not be empirically factual, but they’re interesting at the very least, and should provide some meaningful fodder for designers looking to better understand the design landscape. A lot of what goes into designing logos is unstructured visual consumption, and LogoLounge seems to provide that.
(In the interest of context: if what you’re looking for is qualitative insight into logos, Brand New is the brand to beat.)+