Adaptive branding set to grow in age of user interactivity

According to the organisers of this year’s Onedotzero Adventures in Motion festival, we are entering the ‘post-digital’ era. One aspect of this, as demonstrated by Onedotzero itself, is that brand identities will now be expected to work dynamically across multiple platforms.

This idea of ‘adaptive branding’, to use a phrase favoured by digital consultancy Digit, will be demonstrated in Onedotzero’s own ever-changing identity, which will update in real time using information from blogs and live social networking feeds.

Yarns of data in the form of comments, each in a colour representing their source, will be spun into threads that manifest themselves as the Onedotzero logotype. The idea has been conceived by ad agency Wieden & Kennedy.

Digit is working on a project for a multinational computer brand that will operate in a similar way to the Onedotzero logo. Real-time user-interaction will change an iconic symbol associated with the identity.

‘You can’t go about altering the whole thing, but it does demonstrate that a company is evolving and changing itself,’ says Digit director Daljit Singh.

‘There’s no reason it should stay static,’ he adds. ‘You need to think about adaptive branding, how people interact with a brand, its behaviour and how it interacts with its environment – there can be a direct and changing relationship with the user-interface.’

The idea of adaptive branding has also been embraced by Kin Design. Working with longstanding client Nokia and Goldsmiths College, the consultancy embarked on an education project to simulate how branding can be driven by behaviour and technology across media.

Students were asked to create a physical manifestation and brand story of a new piece of GPS software called So-Lo. The consultancy briefed them to consider Nokia’s ‘Connecting people’ mantra and the application of the phone’s technology. So-Lo can create status updates on social networks automatically and give real-time information allowing users to share a ‘social location’.

The exercise saw Avril O’Neil, Claire Neal and Des Wong create a doughnut-shaped seat, designed for several people, which glows at the point an individual reclines. A glass screen sends text between sitters across the middle of the hollow. ‘The world has changed and you now have to design with behaviour in mind. We navigate through different spaces, whether mobile, Internet or the side of a van,’ says Kin director Matt Wade.

Wade speaks of ‘designing with behaviour in mind’ and looking beyond colour and tone of voice ‘to find a stronger connection with something that has a set of behaviours. Sometimes you can find something movable that can tell you that story’.

Some of those advocating brands designed with convergence in mind cite Wolff Olins’ London 2012 logo – panned at its unveiling in June 2007 – as a good example of a flexible brand that can be easily applied to different platforms.

Wade sits in this camp and says that, as the 2012 games approach, the logo will be used in a more adaptive manner. ‘Sound can be used with it and, given its simplicity, it can be plugged into new technologies,’ he explains.

The simplicity of the 2012 logo was one of the major criticisms levelled at the time of its launch. Wolff Olins says it is contractually bound not to talk to the press, but Robert Jones, its head of global media communications, says the consultancy believes in ‘adaptable, flexible and much less tightly controlled branding’.

Ben Terrett, graphic designer and serial blogger, claims the 2012 brand’s adaptability will see it used to better effect as the Olympics approach. On his Noisy Decent Graphics blog, the debate has been rekindled as Terrett looks at how the ‘attitude’ of the logo ‘forces’ its way on to newspaper banners. He highlights a Locog map, created by Stamen, as an effective evolution of the brand.

Glossary of terms:

  • Convergence – the release of creative content over two or more platforms or networks at the same time
  • Adaptive branding – as defined by Digit, this ‘can be a flexible identity, constantly changing relative to the person who sees it. It learns from the user and intelligently adapts itself to reflect their behaviour and preferences’
  • Post-digitalism – Onedotzero will this year look at the overlap and conflict between traditional hand-crafted and digital design as part of what it is calling ‘post-digitalism’

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