• Thomson Dawson

Visual Brand Identity Design for 21st Century Brands.

Updated: Nov 30, 2019


Our current age of the social web has forever altered how brands express who they are and why they matter. No longer is the main event about designing logos, but designing compelling customer experiences!


The development of visual identity design systems is typically the main event in almost all branding initiatives for startups and established brands alike.


At the basic level, corporate and brand identity programs are an expression and reflection of an organization’s culture, character, personality, their products and services offered–inspiring trust with consumers, customers, employees, suppliers and stakeholders.


Visibility and stability of industrial glory were the hallmarks of visual brand expression of the corporate values of the late 20th century. Alas, the world has changed.


The new age of visual brand identity design.


The social web has forever altered how brands express who they are and why they matter. The shift from the “organization” to the “individual” is now the order of the new age as customers control brand meaning now. The Internet has brought a new value system based on the speed of change.


The new generation of mega digital brands –Google, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, and Facebook are immersed in a dramatic world of disruptive innovation and a need for constant change.


This generation of digital brands has created its own visual language, culture, and iconography from the unbridled energy of the digital playground they were born into. Critics may claim Google’s brand identity to be dull and lacking subliminal character and meaning; but it is an authentic reflection of the world the brand has created.


These digital brands provide good lessons for startup and small business leaders to heed as they develop the visual language of their startup and growing brands.


Today brand identities are created in a much more informal structure than how corporate identity legends Paul Rand, Saul Bass and Walter Landor did things 50 years ago.


In our virtual world, rules are constantly reinvented. Visual identities can no longer be static physical markers but have evolved to be multi-sensory expressions of the brand’s personality and voice in the digital marketplace.

The new breed of business leaders and their designers are challenging the status quo of 20th century monolithic corporate values. Business leaders realize to create an emotionally powerful highly recognized brand, they must first represent an emotionally based idea of value beyond products, features and benefits.


In the 21st marketplace of clutter, noise and abundant choice, they’re not just designing logos, but an entire ecosystem of compelling customer experiences!


In order for visual identity design programs to remain relevant in our  transforming world, requires a real commitment that is visionary, flexible, and a visceral reflection of the shared values with loyal customers over time.

More important, business organizations have to earn their brand value. It can’t be imposed by a logo, a slogan or a promise alone. It has to be real–your leadership is equal to the quality of your presence in the marketplace.


If the vision for your brand in the 21st century is not centered in a rich emotional connection with customers, and the visual identity system for your brand is not well defined and managed, your brand may be visible, but it will lack personality.


A brand without personality is a brand without a soul.  And although a visual identity is a small component of your overall brand expression, it is still the first connection forged in the mind of the customer.

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