Four hot trends in branding to watch in 2016

Or maybe one uber-trend that splits in to four themes…

Yes, the overwhelming trend of recent times is *drumroll* FLEXIBILITY Which makes total sense when you consider market pressures such as:

General speed of business — businesses pivot faster than ever before…and they can’t stop to do laborious (and expensive) brand refreshes all the time.

Globalisation — when you can trade over the web, you need a marque that can be adapted to different environments and cultural norms.

Device & media fragmentation — massive moment-to-moment variation in screens, print methods, sizing, applications, consumption moments — identity needs to be very robust to pop in all these conditions.

Bang for buck — clients want increasing value and resilience in these days of austerity and why not? More flexible design systems mean better usability and increased future-proofing.

Personalisation — why shouldn’t your identity be influenced by your staff? Or your customers? If the next industrial revolution is mass customisation modern identity systems should absolutely acknowledge this.

So, here are my 4 hot themes to keep a watch on this year:

ONE / Media adaptive identities

Modern identities have to effortlessly flow from core elements in to design language, media and diverse applications in a way that has never happened before. It is incredibly fragmented, diverse and demanding. And really f’ing cool.

Definitely the Google re-brand is a good example of this — where the dots are as important in creating brand recognition through the Material Design interface as the logo is.

Simple, adaptive, unified Netflix identity from Gretel

Another example in this vein is Gretel’s re-brand of Netflix. Here they’ve created a very simple graphic device with the overlapping cards that informs their interface but scales up to create a recognisable visual motif in film and print collateral

I also personally still love the infamous HP rebrand. They never adopted it, but how the simple angles from the marque flows across everything (even ink level indicators on HP products) is terrific. The simple thoughts are the best.

Our work for RA was definitely channelling this. We knew the brand had to operate seamlessly online — but then transition in to every conceivable media and placement from 48 sheets to the slip mats on a set of decks:

TWO / Modular identities

Modular marques that can evolve over time or in reaction to context are trendier than hipster jeggings.

As evidenced by some lovely work from MB again:

Yes, it’s more Moving Brands. I’m doing myself out of work here. I am not sponsored by Moving Brands.

This was cute — quite a simple approach using seasonal treatments.

And taking that in to motion for a Veterinary conference (VET Talks!) — creating iterations on the logo system that represent different animals.

The sharper amongst you will notice that last example was from 2014. Totally contemporary. But let’s remember this is really not a new idea…Eames’ were doing this 60 years ago…but it remains ever relevant in this era of the mash-up.

THREE / Generative identities

Identity systems where you can generate and personalise the logo are play to this previous point. A bit gimmicky perhaps? But so good when they work…

Let’s look at where it all began…

And a high profile one from WO recently.

FOUR / Responsive identities

From a practical standpoint, when we’re addressing any new branding project we always create scaleable logos.

Super relevant in the age of responsive web design — logos have to work at every scale all the way down to 16x16px. This is demonstrated nicely here but could be applied to any one of a hundred identities.

Or as an alternate strategy, how about creating a logo system that can be re-mixed, played with in motion, devolved in to iconography and each time only becomes more on-brand?

Mmmmm me gusto.

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