Socially Transmitted Design

By: Robert

Identities get redesigned, that is just the nature of design evolution. A company starts with and an identity and five, ten, fifteen years later the company has evolved. Their mission, their audience, their culture is different. Their original identity no longer reflects where they are, let alone where they want to be. Naturally the thing to do is to redesign the identity.

And when an identity is redesigned a host of things will come into play. From competitor logos to what is “expected” from your field in terms of color, form, image, symbol, even type. Audience must come into play as well. Who will see this? What impression would you like them to take away from it? Where will they see it? All of this is in some part determined when the redesign is done, and what is going on in the culture at that time.

Logos always seem to follow the trends of design, almost marking an era. Our current era, the one of social media and user generated content has finally crept into the mainstream of design.

Do you see it?

Every one of those logos includes a translation of an “emoticon” a cute little smiley face that winks or smiles or frowns that are made from combinations of keyboard symbols. The language and meaning that these symbols contain are myriad and go far beyond the three examples above. However the important thing is that they have started to make their way into mainstream design culture.

In each example the logo has incorporated the “smile” from emoticons in one way or another. If you don’t believe me take a look at Pepsi’s explanation of their new logo. Pepsi’s agency outlined multiple instances of emoticon equivalency for their new logos. An average consumer might not see the smiles when they looked upon their favorite cola can, but as you can see there is a direct correlation being drawn, not just by critics, but by the designers themselves.

In some cases this trend is carried through even more literally. Take Swedish beverage company Kronleins who re-branded their cider packaging (which according to their agency has kept them in the top 5) to call out the use of the letters “Ci” to make a winking eye emoticon.

What does that mean to you?

In the most broad sense it means that the vernacular of the web shorthand has made it into popular culture and is a viable consideration when planning an identity. That being said you should always abide by the #1 dictum of design “JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD.”

Trends come and trends go, there are observations of design trends as far as logos go published every year, here you can see a few of the previous years trends.

The most important things to remember is voice, audience, history, communication, clarity, and connection. If you keep all of those in mind while redesigning your identity you should be able to manage to steer clear of catching a socially transmitted design.