Once there were websites, then websites with mobile versions – then came responsive. This revolutionary approach to building websites gracefully optimised website viewing experiences, depending on the device they were being viewed on. This once ‘newfangled technology’ has become a standard requirement for websites, with large companies such as B&Q spending millions – £60 million to be exact – updating their websites to comply.
Now that we are comfortable in creating digital solutions that fit the myriad of devices on the market, focus has moved onto the finer points of design, such as the application of branding.
In a recent article on Web Designer Depot, the question was raised as to whether it is time to embrace responsive branding? It’s a question that you may expect to be more prevalent within the web design industry. When it comes to branding, should we be implementing a similar ‘mobile first’ concept derived from web design?
The application of brand and its continuity is key in building and maintaining recognition of the companies and organisations they represent. However, if the application of the brands marks or logos become unrecognisable due to their miniscule presence on applications such as a mobile device, how is this benefiting the brand? Should we now be considering digital application in the brand design process so that it is another tool in its arsenal, rather than a less considered ‘bolt on’?
Putting it into practice
A personal project by Joe Harrison demonstrates how globally-recognised brands such as Disney and Guinness could be simplified into lesser and lesser detail without losing sight of the brand’s key identifiers. Using Disney as an example, it’s interesting how instantly recognisable the brand is merely by the use of the ‘D’.
As it is pointed out in the article on Web Designer Depot, purists may argue that if its simplest form is recognisable, all other detail is superfluous and therefore unnecessary – but is this missing the point? In creating a brand that is responsive, are we simply aiding its success by intentionally making the brand more engaging regardless of its application? Why make it an ‘either/or’ choice?
Is variety is the spice of life?
In a recent study by UCLA, the Apple logo – arguably one of the most recognisable logos in the world – would seem to be not as memorable as you may have imagined. 85 participants were asked to correctly redraw the Apple logo from memory, and only 1 out of the 85 were able to successfully complete the task. Less than half of the participants were able to even identify the logo at all. It presents the question of whether the saturation of a single brand mark is counter productive in brand recognition. Would the addition of a responsive brand alleviate the potential white noise effect created by a mark that never changes, and therefore lacks the intrigue to pay more attention to it?
Whether you feel deconstructing a brand’s mark is a sacrilegious and unnecessary act, or perhaps brands need more variety to keep them interesting and relevant, as a designer I feel there is a definite requirement for digital application to be considered in the early stages of a brand’s development. As marks and logos already follow the cardinal rule of always working in black and white, they should also perhaps always have a version that always works in digital.