While many people recognize the power of brands and a number of consumers only buy from certain well-established names, the modern brand is evolving in the changing marketplace. This process is affecting how businesses are using it for promotion and building visual identity.
Brand consultants and experts used to say that “People buy brands, not products”, and this is certainly true. But modern business has to show the story behind the company, integrate this message into the brand, and use it in how it is promoted. A brand must be engaging and unique but must also provide a consistent message and voice.
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With the developments in modern technology, companies are now held accountable to a much higher standard than in the past. So it is crucial to establish a trusted brand that is easily recognizable. The designers of modern-day corporate identities aim to apply a significant degree of standardization to brand and promotional activity, trying to create simplistic yet comprehensive designs. Many modern companies are challenging themselves to adapt brand designs to create a new buzz, yet remain recognizable within their market place.
The modern brand needs to walk a fine line between recognition and annoying repetition. Consumers believe that a brand “should earn its public attention”, according to the Harvard Business Review. Our society in general is more diverse and fluid nowadays with almost every resource available with instant access. This has led to reduced attention spans and the need for a brand identity to embrace a number of different media and relate to its audience.
This has put considerable strain on the old school dynamic of consistency all the way. Although consistency is still needed, it now needs to share focus with fluidity. Achieving a totally consistent look may now be considered counterproductive and damaging to the profile of the company. Many companies are now taking the concept of total consistency being unachievable to a whole new level. They are creating a looser set of parameters which although allow for a familiar feel, promote a very diverse group of applications across the various media outlets and different countries or markets.
This concept is not completely new. Certain design companies such as Duffy & Partners have been pioneering flexible and adaptable brands which maintain the ability to be recognized immediately.
Brands now have the flexibility to be allowed to surprise and delight their customers. They should be able to listen to feedback and input and cater to changing requirements and desires. By allowing a leap of faith and embracing elements of risk, the brand is protected from becoming dated and irrelevant.
Social media has become a huge influence on the power of the brand and how it evolves. The identity of the brand is no longer simply defined by the company, but by customer input and opinion. Of course, core principles and attributes should not be compromised by this flexibility or credibility. An excellent example of this is the recent rebranding of Microsoft, which has enlightened a whole new generation of users to their brand, services and products.
The modern day brand must evolve to create an almost symbiotic ecosystem of possibilities for interactions. Since many people now rarely use printed materials to obtain their news or advertising, brands must be able to interact effectively with the variety of media which their target audience is using. Recent studies have indicated that 90% of media consumption takes place on a screen with 38% of that happening on a smartphone.
This means that savvy advertisers are planning their television commercials to work in concert with a more in-depth online experience. They are aware that their target audience has almost immediate access to sites and social media and can share the information with their network. This creates a highly dynamic use of branding and marketing campaigns that can be personalized and extremely effective.
The journey of brand evolution has required new processes to define brand and identity. It is not simply possible to just dilute the processes of brand strategy. The personality, attributes and position of the brand must still be well thought out and established since they provide a reference point for any future variation. However, the process now involves generating a new algorithm or equation rather than graphic designing a number of pixels.
Designers need to consider that the visual aspect of the brand is no longer its only definition. Allowing customer feedback and interaction provides a two-way interaction that builds an identity. Successful designers are picking a small number of graphic elements which can represent the brand while considering aspects that can be flexible. This provides an opportunity for the brand to evolve according to the feedback and interaction with customers.
A subtle brand now has the power to distinguish itself from heavy visual and changing backdrop that surrounds it. This understated effect can have a huge impact, providing an organic and quiet feel amid a landscape of visual noise. Allowing the brand flexibility ensures that it can bend and reshape while other brands resist and try to avoid breaking. This flexibility can provide surprise and delight and build up a great deal of brand loyalty.
Flexible modern designs provide an eye-catching spectacle that promotes conversation and interest, generating buzz and advertising through social media and the marketplace. Many companies are sticking rigidly to older style formats of repetition, which may prove harmful in the long term.
Failing to allow the brand to evolve could leave it and its company stuck in the dark ages. With all the brands and images that surround us in the modern world, which ones remain most memorable to you?
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.