December means it’s time to look back at all the great brand identity and logo work done this year. I’m getting this list out a little later than planned because there were 2 identities revealed in December that I had to include. First thing to know about this list is that it is my list and a collection of my 10 favorite identities of the year. It is by no means a list of “best” work. It is not all new either, some of these logos have simply evolved into an updated mark.
There were many good beer identities this year, but what makes BrewDog my favorite is the simple 2 color labels and embracement of a grunge aesthetic, which becomes more rare every year. I love the approach to the label design; each one is identical in layout/composition and each have bold black text. But, each label is easily distinguished from the other because of the color applied to it.
I’m someone who loves animal logos and although this is technically 1 of 3 animal logos on the list, it’s the only logo that takes a realistic approach to it’s rendering. At least in the sense that it is designed to look like a real deer. It’s a beautifully elegant rendering of a classic “hero pose” composition where the deer is looking up and off to the distance which sells a sense of pride and strength. It also shows that gradients can work when done well and in the right application.
Not only is this my favorite on-air brand of the year, it is some of my favorite network branding ever. It is a perfect blend of modern and retro style. They took modern fonts and used them in a classic way along with a great vintage teal color, but left all the textures out of it so it feels new and clean. It’s really an example of how a good font and good color can carry a whole identity.
7. Football Club International Milano
This logo is the least original of all on the list as it’s just a better execution of a previous logo, but it’s so well done it now feels perfect. Leftoff also has designed some supporting elements for the new identity and shown how some advertising could work. As much as I love circle logos I’m a bit surprised I only included 1 this year, but this is definitely my favorite of the whole bunch. It’s hard enough to do a good 2 letter monogram, but getting 4 letters together so perfectly is really impressive.
6. Mr Parker
You can’t go wrong with a good red, white, and blue palette. It’s another example of mixing classic elements with modern ones and shows that identity work doesn’t need to be complex; it just has to be recognizable and memorable. Also, you can see how important and useful a pattern can be for an identity. It’s not the logo or the typography that grabs your eye, it’s the red and blue stripes.
5. Brand New Conference Chicago
I love identities that are so ingrained with a local culture that they could not exist anywhere else. There are some stronger examples of that coming up, but the Brand New Conference is still a good example. The heart of this is based on the Chicago stock market, from the type to the color, to the patterns created with the type, and how it all works in motion graphics. I think Armin Vit is one of the best there is when it comes to critiquing design and it goes to show that he’s not all talk; he can back it up by creating great stuff too.
4. 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Brandia is one of my favorite agencies in the world, their whole portfolio is filled with inspiring work. They’ve taken the Brazilian World Cup composition and mixed it with some beautiful Russian decoration. The World Cup and Olympics consistently have some of the best design you will see around the world so it’s not unusual for it to be really good but there’s such a unique look to this one. It’s my personal favorite World Cup logo yet.
3. Deviant Art
The brand archetype they’re going for is a mix of “outlaw” and “creator” and I think the new logo expresses that very well. I love that at first sight it is an abstract symbol that doesn’t make much sense but like all good art it appears to be one thing but is really something else. The logo is the middle of 2 “A”s, one being turned upside down which makes the mark an ambigram. Or you could see it as a monogram-ambigram of a D and A.
My favorite part of the identity is that it gets its members involved, taking things they’ve created and using them as branding pieces. It gives the identity authenticity, promotes their artists, and is truly unique. It’s a community of professional artist and hobby artists who are all extremely talented. It just says “this is what we’re about”. It raises the expectation of art here, showing that it is not only for amateurs and 7 year old cartoonists.
2. Dungeons & Dragons
I’m not sure how much of their identity has changed; this is just about the new logo any way. The typography is fine, but the ampersand by Von Glitschka is my favorite logo of the year. The first time I saw it, my jaw dropped. Not only very smart, but masterfully crafted and the added chrome effect just makes it mean as hell! It’s the type of logo that only comes around once a year at best and makes all other designers jealous that it’s not in their portfolio.
The TUSK identity is my number 1 because it shows how much more an identity is than a logo. The logo itself is very cool, but look how it’s created, inspired by African patterns, the colors too. Look how it translates into cropping devices. And look how the logo translates into a beaded bracelet. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better logo application. This identity proves that it’s not about what a logo looks like on a blank white page; it’s about how it can work in application and in the real, tangible world; where it really “lives”. If I were doing a list of my all time favorite identities, this would be in my top 10 there as well.