What is Flexible Branding? And Why does it matter?
Consumer values have shifted from cherishing stability to championing freedom and creative expression. Static design is on it’s way out. Our world is now fully responsive – across devices, media and platforms, a brand must stand out while remaining recognizable and delivering a consistent message.
Once upon a time, it used to be that ‘branding’ meant you design a static logo, define rules and guidelines to how it should be used, then stamp that same logo everywhere, through as many channels as possible, conveying the same message and design every time. The system was two-fold: make it consistent, and repeat it. But the world has changed. A dynamic logo is now a popular choice for many reasons.
Chief among them: We don’t live in a mass media society anymore. We live in a social one. Companies are realizing that these old systems of advertising are no longer feasible. We live in a social economy where the boundaries between individual and business are continuously blurring.
The world has turned into a giant house party, where everyone is talking, telling stories, and no-one has time for boring conversations.
“If you go to a party and you walk up to every single person and say the same joke every time, how does that work? Not very well.” -CJ Yeh
In today’s online environment, once a consumer sees the same static image more than twice, they shut it out. It becomes background noise while the rest of the images in their world take precedence.
So what does this mean for branding? In a modern brand identity system it’s important to be consistent and easily recognizable, but also to demonstrate variation and flexibility. You gotta be interesting!
Take MTV for example, perhaps one of the first dynamic logos, created in 1981 by Manhattan Design. The mark has served as a container for various illustrations, imagery and animations over the years.
MTV’s dynamic logo
Not only is it important to retain your brand’s personality, but a brand mark must also be flexible in its design to communicate across all different media and devices. Responsive logos should simplify when viewed on small mobile screens, and should adapt and stretch when viewed on giant billboards.
Going further than the responsiveness and adaptability of a logo, today’s companies must also deliver top notch brand experience.
Brand Touch Points
Every touchpoint of a brand identity system is part of this overarching experience. Today, there are more platforms and places that we encounter brands than ever before. There are physical encounters – a shop environment, company employees, product use, advertising. And then there is a slew of new media: Twitter, Instagram, Google, e-commerce and the online shopping experience, emails, newsletters, apps, environmental graphics, blogs. The list goes on.
As touch points have increased, designers must increasingly step into the customers shoes, think what they think, feel what they feel, and do what they do (also called User Profiling, an integral part of User Experience Design)
Understanding the consumer, their needs, wants and pain points is essential to developing a brand that will grow, adapt and be flexible to its users. Good user experience provides more than just a solution to a problem.
A great brand will create emotional connections with its audience, generate conversation, and in the most powerful cases, give its users a voice.
Identity as ‘Being’
In the age of experiential media, identity is a by-product of “being”. So for company and brands, your brand image is no longer what YOU say it is, it’s what THEY say it is. So… say what you believe and do what you say. When you inspire others, they will believe in you and your brand.
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