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In Graphic Design Less Is More: Or Does it Confuse Your Brand?


Let’s be honest, the minimalist trend is definitely bangin’ right now in graphic design. Helvetica is just as popular as ever and the trend is shifting to a flatter, simpler look. Earlier in the millennia it was all about maximalism and seeing how much stuff you could cram into a design without making it look like crap. But, I’m not opposed to it since it can be an impactful style when used in context. Much like maximalist design, minimalist design comes in handy with proper execution.

The Beauty of Helvetica

Anyone can take Helvetica, set it in big, bold type with a witty saying and call it “minimalist”, but graphic designers should know better. Minimalism is about being able to convey a complete concept/idea with as little clutter and visual noise as possible. When I stumbled upon Antrepo, a group of designer’s minimalist redesigns of existing brands I got to thinking: while it looks cool, is it even effective?

Example 1

Example 2

I admit that there are many brands out there that could do without some of the excess on their labels. Some even in dire need of an entire brand redesign. But most of the time the solution is definitely not slapping Helvetica onto the packaging and calling it trendy and modern.

In the second set of redesigns that Antrepo dished out, the very, very minimalist versions are almost devoid of personality and lack anything to make it stand out on the shelves. Which, I’m pretty sure, is the complete opposite of what you’re supposed to be doing for a brand. Unless it’s some new avant-garde approach that hasn’t quite caught on yet (you heard it here first, everyone).

Is Minimalist Design Good For Brands?

I think minimalist design works best with more established brands because consumers already know what the product is for. Take Nutella, for example: most people know what it is, so we won’t need large images of bread smothered in the product. But that leaves the question of whether or not having that smothered bread actually makes consumers crave the product more (I know I would). These kinds of decisions might end up being make or break for a brand, although you never know until it happens.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t some successful minimalist redesigns out there! Other bloggers put out their own lists of logo redesigns that were buzzing on the internet throughout 2013 and I think some of them are definite winners. What do you think of the redesigns; successes or total failures? Which are your faves?

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