Adapting your brand

Sunday, March 03, 2013 by Richard Howe

In an increasingly fast-paced, consumer-aware society, there is no such thing as static branding.

Today’s brands need to be continually evolving and adapting in order to keep up with changes in audience, technology, competitors and culture. So how do companies keep things fresh and current?

Fluidity

The watchwords of adaptable brands are fluidity, agility and flexibility. Core messages and images need to work with corporate identity, digital design, mobile development, social and 3D platforms and designers are creating vibrant new logos and other visual and 3D branding intended to exist in different colours or patterns, or in different styles, whilst maintaining the integrity of the shape or wordmark. 

Google have long embraced the changeable with their ‘doodles’ and brands like Windows have demonstrated with their latest logo the potential permutations of a simple and clean logo design. If the brand is strong enough, there is scope for more radical departures from the norm and companies can get creative and take a few risks.

Cohesion

As brands become more dynamic and fluid, it is increasingly important that all aspects of their values and image are cohesive and work together as a whole in a huge variety of situations and for a wide range of outputs. Without solid brand integration, a brand’s message could easily become fractured and confused.

Gamification

Whether it’s social, mobile or gamification, brands today can be more playful than ever before without jeopardising the integrity of the company – just take a look at the no-nonsense copywriting of Innocent smoothies or Pret a Manger to see playful branding design at work.

Gamification, ‘the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems’ according to Wikipedia, can be used to appeal directly to consumers and game-based rewards, choices, leader boards and virtual currencies can be built into the brand to appeal to a wider audience and generate a buzz. Today’s brands are innovative, fun and multi-platform.

Brand storytelling and user interaction

Consumers are no longer the passive audience they once were. As companies have grown ever more open in their policies and transparent in their branding, their users have become empowered to voice their opinions on all aspects of image and business visual identity – some recent companies have withdrawn logos due to consumer disapproval. 

Companies have a different relationship with their consumers now and telling the brand story is critical in getting consumers on-board and actively involved. Apps, social media and initiatives such as crowdsourcing allow users to interact directly with brands. It’s no longer a one-way street.

But what about the classics?

So does this all mean that the branding classics of simplicity, consistency and repetition are ancient history? Not at all. Recent trends in logo design have veered towards the ultra-minimalist and in a world where the environment is constantly shifting, and where brands need to move quickly to keep pace, hanging onto a clean and distinct message is paramount.

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