Designing your brand is not an easy task. It is hard enough to create a marketing campaign; working on something as important and permanent as brand design, however, is a completely different ballgame. There are some big problems in the world of brand design today and good brands are suffering because of them. The reason brand design is so hard is that it is art, and you cannot objectively measure whether a brand identity is good or not until you have gauged people’s reactions to it. The biggest and most common problems with brand design can be solved by understanding three basic brand design truisms.
Stop following trends
Brand design and identity should never follow trends. Brand strategy and marketing strategy should totally follow the trends, but not design. The difference between these is vast. Think of brand strategy and marketing strategy as something cosmetic like getting a haircut or a new wardrobe, because these things don’t fundamentally change a person but do change how that person is perceived. The brand identity and design is like a person’s personality; it shouldn’t be something that changes with trends, it is the core set of values behind the brand. If you keep changing your identity to follow trends it just shows that you have no identity. If you create a brand around a trend do not be surprised if your brand fails as the trend becomes less popular.
Minor variations are good
Brands designs get stale with time. This doesn’t mean that companies have to completely change everything about them; a better way is to keep bringing minor variations again and again. Look at Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most successful brand designs. If you were to ask people they will tell you that the Coca-Cola logo has stayed almost the same for the last 100 years but if you look at the logos you’ll see minor additions and changes happening every few years. Minor variations in the logo and brand identity are okay because they let you retain the previous identity without going stale. People made fun of AT&T for switching to lowercase letters and becoming at&t but that small change modernized the brand.
Reinvent only as a last resort
Since brand identity is the core of the brand, it should only be changed when absolutely necessary. If your brand seems outdated and people are not responding to it at all it is okay to give up on it and come up with something new. If you reinvent for reinvention’s sake no one is going to like it. A great example is the recent rebranding of Instagram. Instagram had a very distinctive and iconic logo, which they changed to a gradient logo that looks like any other logo around. People don’t like the new Instagram logo because it completely changes the identity of the app they love without any reason. Instagram wasn’t stagnating, they weren’t losing users, and people weren’t switching to other apps. Do not reinvent the brand unless it is necessary.