How the Digital Age is influencing identity design
Mo Saad, head of design and creative impact at Dubai-based Brand Lounge, describes how brand identity is evolving in modern times, and how it might change further in the future with the advent of the metaverse.
Design has always possessed the power of influence; shaping revolutions and communicating world-changing ideas that would otherwise be left sitting on shelves. But design, like anything else, is also influenced by the dominating zeitgeist of every era, absorbing the nuances of popular culture and magnifying their effect.
The Middle Ages brought us gothic architecture; the Renaissance brought us free thinkers and art that highlighted their philosophies and scientific discoveries; the post-World War era brought us contemporary and simplistic Swiss design followed by the Technological Revolution that brought us the “pixel” and forever changed how we approach design.
Today’s Digital Age has no less effect on the way we design communication — it is perhaps the one era that has had the maximum impact on the tools we use and the channels we play in — let alone the metaverse which has opened up infinite possibilities where visual language is concerned.
Of course, brand design tends to be directly implicated in the way trends shift and evolve; after all, brands are in themselves a mirror image of the reigning zeitgeist. So how is "Brand Identity” evolving?
Well one thing is for sure... “if it doesn’t move, it’s as good as dead”. The effect of 5G speeds and exponentially-advancing computing power has given designers the ability to tell more compelling stories and reveal hidden truths through moving, flexing, and shape-shifting identities. We’re fascinated by the moving image and no longer respond to static visuals — have TikTok and Instagram Reels come out of nowhere?
This access to motion has more widely affected visual language as a whole. I always receive blank stares from clients when I tell them “Your logo is only 5% of your brand identity”; and I don’t blame them. We’re trained to believe that a logo is everything — slap it on anything from mugs to mousepads and you have a brand; nothing could be further from the truth. When paired synergistically with a powerful logo, visual language can be infinitely more effective in communicating a brand’s purpose, driving association, and imprinting it in people’s minds. Add the magic of motion to it and you have yourself an ecosystem of infinite possibilities.
Sometimes, it could be color that is your main driver for association. Studies show that 90% of snap judgments about brands can be made through color alone. But in the Digital Age, color choice is polarized. The advancement of screen and light technology gives us better resolutions year on year. Nits and lumens and LEDs are just a few ways tech giants influence how we use color. Some brands choose to overly stimulate through vibrant combinations of RGBs, and others are inclined to calm down our senses through the resurgence of pastels and calmer palettes.
So we ask ourselves the ultimate question — how will all these new trends in identity design manifest in the metaverse? Yes, I’m going there, because these questions are no longer avoidable. How will “visual identity” truly be defined in a space that some still see as abstract? Will logos cease to exist and be replaced by another metaphysical interpretation? Referencing our own design philosophy at Brand Lounge, will logos continue to tell ‘Authentic' stories? What ‘Function’ will they play? Can identity even remain ‘Timeless’ in a space that evolves faster than time itself? And what role will ‘Strategy’ play?
There is no straightforward answer in a new world being defined and built by crowd culture second after second. What we do know is that so long as the physical world remains our reality — for now — there will continue to be advances in technology and the zeitgeist will continue to evolve, paving the way for new tools, new toys, and new spaces for us to play and experiment with identity.