Should brands have a single logo or an adaptable identity?

Darren Whittingham, co-founder, group ECD Start JG

‘The best logos and brand identities are the ones that have an idea at the heart of them, are consistent, protectable, evolve over time and become well-loved. The iconic Apple ID for instance has adapted its execution through eras – not situations, MTV by contrast adapts frequently to the beat of its content. Our modern day world moves so fast that everything and everyone has to adapt to keep up and ahead. Innovation through new technology, social media and screen based media opens up a new exciting world that demands a new approach, where logo’s and identities can be created to live, move and interact in a whole new dimension.’  

Darren Whittingham, co-founder, group executive creative director, Start JudgeGill

Malcolm Stewart, creative director, Tayburn

‘It depends on the brand. If there’s a desire to remain fresh and evolve then an adaptable identity can work, but for most brands this wouldn’t allow for enough exposure and recognition. Big Brother’s identity changes and it works. So does the BBC, with CBeebies and Radio 4 although these are ultimately brands in their own right. Twitter needs an identity capable of being recognised instantly and standing out, often in busy, crowded spaces. Which is as good an argument as any for consistency. An identity will ultimately come to symbolise a lot of things about the entity it represents, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a lot of things.’

Malcolm Stewart, creative director, Tayburn

Rachel Smith, partner, Smith

‘The bird is the word. For a relatively new mega-brand like Twitter there’s a benefit to having one symbol that works universally, consistently and at small sizes. It might sound boring, but it’s useful for designers and developers who have to implement it – and also for the billions of people who see Larry online everyday. In short, it’s tidy.Whether an identity should be changeable depends on how and where it will be used. An adaptable solution isn’t appropriate for all brands, but it is refreshing when designers are able to create flexible brand identities for forward-thinking companies; companies that need to work hard to inspire people as well as gain their trust.’

Rachel Smith, partner, &Smith

Martin Grimer, executive creative director and founding partner, AESOP

‘Branding has been about consistency since people started burning cows’ backsides. It’s a bit like grammar what help peoples to understand them things you are said. Grammar is a constant that facilitates understanding. So is branding. The exception that proves the rule is Google, which has permission to play with its brand marque by virtue of its consistent role in people’s lives – constant inconstancy if you will. Now that’s quite enough word play for a creative, thankyou.’

Martin Grimer, executive creative director and founding partner, Aesop

Nick Finney, partner and creative director, NB Studio

‘A logo is a way to identify something, to set it apart from things that are similar; and the best way to make something easy to identify is to make it the same each time we see it. It’s how we tell an Apple from a Blackberry. If the logo is a company’s beak, bill or crest, then the identity is how our bird displays in different situations. In Twitter’s case, Tweeters form a major part of their identity so it’s in constant flux. Today, identities need to adapt to fly, but beaks need to be firmly attached.’ 

Nick Finney, partner and creative director, NB Studio

Alexie Somner, director of communications, Thomas Matthews

‘A great brand identity is like a classic pair of shoes: well-made, timeless and can be worn for any occasion – dressed up with good socks, coloured with flashy laces, or the final touch to a winning outfit. Brand identities should be the same – a quality, memorable logomark that holds it’s own; a unique idea for application and a library of assets for traditional and contemporary platforms. If adaptability is considered in the design process – applying it is easy and stylish.’

Alexie Sommer, director of communications, Thomas Matthews

Hide Comments (5)Show Comments (5)
  • da bishop November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am


    Eras needs no apostrophe “era’s”.

  • Ian Firth November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Surely we have always had adaptable identities. Different versions of logos are nothing new – CMYK, pantone, single colour, landscape and portrait versions can be found in any identity. A brand’s framework in this day and age is required to reach out across multiple touch points and audiences. Consistency of approach is of greater importance than consistency of mark. Is a black version of a bitten apple any less effective at marking a product than a white one? Not really. It is the same method of intent that is applied to every element that creates a strong visual identity and the consideration for the how that makes it successful. Print, screen, moving, audio and 3D are all manifestations of a brand’s identity that now have to be considered. Rather than “adapt”, perhaps identities should “respond” to the environments in which they find themselves.

  • DJ November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    What kind of a debate is this?

    Logos are supposed to be a simple and consistent signature for a brand, allowing consumers to identify the significance and authenticity of a product- changing the graphic design of this outside of a proper and singular review is just designer nonsense and a bored creatives affectation.

    with respect to Martin, Google is not ‘ an exception’ it’s not a continuing and ever changing engagement campaign, it’s just a bit of daily fun ; the standard logo is still the default and the one that we all know and will always be used as a corporate marker.

  • Simon November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    You lot crack me up.

  • Logo Designer YB November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Thanks, useful information. Keep it up!

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