The digital age of brand design

It’s fair to say we now live in a very digital age. Most aspects of our lives these days are digital and the last few years has seen a shift toward digital execution of brand identity design.

There have been a number of significant brand identity updates and refreshes over the last year or so that highlight how brands are now embracing new channels and creating identities applicable to digital platforms. For example, Channel 4’s unique animated logo applications and Google’s comprehensive brand eco system. These are two among a wide range of refreshes that have brought to light the scale of the shift to a digital age of design.

The update which could be considered the most significant and created the most impact was of course Google. Not only did they update their ‘logo’ for easier use and better legibility across a variety of digital channels. They also devised a whole new brand ecosystem that communicates a multitude of messages across numerous touchpoints in a very simple and beautifully executed way.

Since Google we have seen a number of highly successful and arguably unsuccessful attempts to create digitally comprehensive brands. The latest of which was a very bold new look for dance music icon Ministry of Sound. While I’ll keep my personal views to myself until we see how it is brought to life through communication, it has been interesting to observe how identity design has had a significant shift in this new era and is being used to transform iconic brands.

The move to more simplistic logo design is the most prominent aspect, with a number of business from Instagram, The Premier League and business to business brands such DPD for example choosing a flatter and more simplified execution of their logotype and icons. These brands are then brought to life by the colours they have used and supporting visual language.

Brands are choosing to simplify their logos because of the number and variety of formats they are required to be used on. Social media and other digital channels provide less space compared to older print executions meaning logos are required to be more flexible in shape, size and legibility than ever before. Tate for example, recently introduced an updated identity that consists of 340 dots compared to the previous 3,000 to ensure that legibility was maximised across all touchpoints, particularly when reduced for digital channels.

Another reason for brands creating ‘digital identities’ is that they are becoming more reliant on variations and adaptations of their core identity to communicate so many things to their audiences in a simplified way, across complex and digitally interactive touchpoints. From products and services to methodologies and action mechanisms design can articulate complex propositions and processes with more immediacy and using less space than written communication.

Google for example developed their ‘dots’ as a mechanism for communicating that the platform is working for us. This approach has been adopted by a host of brands, including Ministry of Sound. While some work more effectively than others it again reinforces the shift that brands now require their identities to work harder and more complex brand ecosystems are increasingly required to provide a greater agility to their identity and communication.

If you’re considering a rebrand or about to launch a new identity be sure to:

• test your logo type at various sizes and weights for maximum legibility in all digital contexts
• consider all of your touchpoints and test your brand thoroughly to make sure your it is future proofed and agile enough for the digital age

If you’d like to discuss this any further or for any advice on how to prepare your brand for the new digital age please get in touch.

james.brooke@foggassociates.com
01925 226 139