If an identity is to create value through identifiable and differentiating qualities, it can’t be designed through employment in the latter stages of a standardized process. It needs to lead the entire creative and strategic process from its initial spark to its finale.
In his talk on FMCG, brands and product design, Richard Murray suggests that we are better at creating categories than individual brands
Is the sameness of unoriginal ideas to be blamed on our processes being too similar? If the analysis to the insight, to the design and form follows the same pattern across consultancies, agencies and brands, then everybody follows a similar pattern in order to discover the great insight that leads to the unique idea. The problem is, there is a lack of unique ideas. We are in a hammer and nail situation: “If we think our only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail”.
Organic platforms isn’t only evidence of this, it might as well be the biggest category driven collection of surfaces we have.
A great deal of organic productions are built on an offspring of a model created back in 2000. A brilliant tool with an unfortunate side effect: everybody follows an identical pattern for development, one that engineers the structure in a one-dimensional approach, before adding identity at the end; as some kind of tag.
There are originally two legs to identity: The first one is the understanding that the visual identity and story of the product helps it differentiate itself in the market and create a place in peoples harts. The second one is the experience created around the product which helps the product become unique, by enhancing its identity through experience.
On organic platforms there is a third leg as well: Identity design is not only used to design experiences, it also identifies existing experiences.
What does this mean: Designing identities, on organic platforms, has expanded it’s traditional form, which to a large extent has been focused on visual identities and story. Designing identities now also demands that we identifying existing experiences and redesign / augment / ad value to them.
The result of the existing generic standardization, is that it has created an overwhelming range of sameness. Different brands offering the same services, content and applications online – following a pattern that not only creates a surge to make sure we are offering whatever everybody else is offering (the artificial standard / benchmark), but worse – having everything created, copyable by the competition.
Adding a different color scheme or logic at the end of a process does not create a unique experience, it merely ads a label to a generic offering. This is the result of a mindset where identity takes a back seat and is added at the end.
A generic brand identity is not an identity, its a category
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Unique and identifiable brands on organic platforms comes from doing the opposite to the standard process: It starts with the identity, and employs it to every strategic and creative decision from the first spark to the finale. Resulting in a unique and identifiable experience, which the competition is unable to copy and standardize in the marketplace.