Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Whole New (Brand) World?

In Tuesday's Metro, Simon Manchipp, "founder of the London-based design practice SomeOne" (it says here), wrote a piece about the death of the logo, declaring that the public don't want them anymore. Far better, he says, for brand to offer "immersive brand world experiences", citing a recent online survey. It is not made entirely clear exactly what this means, but from what we can deduce, it seem to mean a flexible identity that can be adapted to suit different pieces of communications.

There are are two possible responses to this, the short one, and the longer, slightly more considered one.

Let's go with the short one first: it's rubbish.

Now for the slightly more detailed version. Campaignable identities are not a new thing, but the idea that consumers have completely lost interest in logos looks a bit ridiculous when you consider the number of people walking around wearing a Nike swoosh on their trainers, eating at the Golden Arches, before getting into their Renaults and driving off into the Sunset.

The dominant trading environment for most brands and products remains the retail store (and yes I've read The Long Tail). These stores are not, for the most part, conducive to creating "brand worlds" and the visual shorthand of symbols and iconography remains the most effective way for brands to communicate and consumers to select the product they want. We all recognise and have some kind of emotional response to, for example, the Coca Cola bottle, the Innocent pip, The Famous Grouse's eponymous hero, etc. Yes we do have deeper and more active relationships with these brands through different communications channels, but these symbols are still hardwired into our conciousness and are guaranteed to trigger a response.

Now what Mr Manchipp was talking about was the 2012 European Championship identity, which has been developed to be customisable by supporters from individual nations. In the fact that it is designed to be more dynamic and flexible than the traditional static logo, it bears comparison to that other 2012 logo which got rather a lot of tongues wagging, the London Olympic Identity. The whole point of that, and why it was doomed to ridicule after being unveiled in such a ham-fisted way, was that it was meant to be animated so that it could be stretched across lots of different sub-brands for events, sponsors, merchandise etc. It was, and is, customisable.

But it is still a logo.

Symbols remain immensely powerful communication devices, For organisations of all sizes, they are as important internally as they are customers, providing a vital touchstone for all to rally around in good times and bad. This is why flags have such emotional resonance, even in cynical, sceptical, broken Britain.

The logo is not dead - technology and the communications revolution have given it new life.

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