Logo System: Adapt or Die
19 July 2016
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn
If a logo in the 20th Century was defined by a brand's ability to create and manage its unique identity, then a logo in the 21st Century is defined by its expressionism.

Brands and their logos can no longer be seen as static immobile objects, but rather need to be treated as active, evolving entities. In the past, brands were able to get away with standardised CI guides for their identity, and update when needed with little change to their primary identity or logo. However, with the development of the digital era brands are entering a new exciting space where the consumer is always expecting more.

Contemporary brands are speaking to a digital consumer, a consumer who is conversational and enjoys searching for the unconventional and memorable. Although brands have been forced to evolve to accommodate modern consumers, their logos often fall behind in this evolution. This is because most logos are built on three traditional approaches - A Wordmark logo, a Pictorial logo or an Abstract Iconography logo. All of which have experienced great success over the years with some of the most loved brands - Disney = Wordmark, Apple = Pictorial and Pepsi = Abstract Iconography. None of these approaches are wrong and they certainly served a purpose at the time - however, they do lack a crucial element in today's visual landscape and that is the ability to adapt. When working with brands that adhere to a logo system this is not the case. The logo system creates a graphical framework which allows for infinite transformations.

This was successfully implemented in the past by brands such as MTV that made use of the logo system approach well before its time. The logo becomes a talking point for the brand and not merely a signoff signature or visual association. The logo system allows a brand to use its familiar mark to point to other ideas and issues, meaning the logo itself becomes a communication touch point for the brand. Consumers revisit the brand again and again and see the commentary of the brand, reigniting their curiosity and brand love.

More recently Google has become the foremost brand to use this logo system to benefit their brand. This is seen frequently on their landing page with their daily doodles as well as their profile images, digital reports and favicons. All touch points are considered which the brand can also modify for different consumers, igniting a selected conversation with specific target groups. A more contemporary approach of this logo system can be seen in today's environment in executions completed for the Whitney Museum, MIT Media Lab and Dresden eDition. A simple logo execution that allows for multiple permutations to be created whether it is discussing a new exhibition, artist, perspective or idea.

The logo system is a reminder to the market of the value of a brand's visual identity as a communication tool, as well as an owned medium to benefit the brand.

By Christopher Schilperoort
Back to top