Brand Dilution – How You Could Be Losing Your Identity

Over the years some of the simplest brand designs have been the strongest. Looking at the likes of Nike or Apple, and many more besides, a clean icon and simple name often do well to gain recognition in the market place.

More so, reduced stylising and simple iconography is a key trend in contemporary design, certainly there are many companies that have recently undergone rebrands to appeal to the modern market.

Rather than wanting to look outdated with antiquated typefaces or elaborate logos, many brands are ‘trimming the fat’ and exponentially simplifying their identities down. For instance look at the recent changes made to brands such as eBay and Microsoft, the designs of which are visibly thinner and more uniformed than their predecessors.

However, there is a risk in potentially over-simplifying your brand. At what point does the design bridge over from being individual and assured, to just a name on a background?

This issue is something that it seems industries and designers alike are starting to forget, but we need only look at the previous errors in overly subtle branding to demonstrate the risk of an identity not being ‘identifiable’.

Such was the problem previously faced by the home-ware brand Habitat. The original brand identity was simply the name ‘Habitat’ in a generic and universally available font.

This, plus the fact that the term ‘habitat’ comes straight out of the dictionary, meant that the brand itself could not be legally protected, as it possessed no distinctly individual element of design or construct. The company faced some trials as a result of this and were in a constant state of vulnerability to anyone else coming along and entering the market with the same identity.

In 2002, Habitat finally countered the problem and underwent a rebrand of their own, adding a graphic component to the previously nondescript logotype. The new and unique insignia meant the brand could finally defend its identity.

Though that was more than a decade ago, the lesson learnt is as important now as it ever was. When thinking of rebranding, or worrying that a design is too complex for your audience, consider the alternative, that something too simple or “too modern”, just isn’t design at all.

There is a concern that the future of design faces the trend of minimalism spiralling out of control, to the point at which anything truly creative is rejected by escalating social norms, to tone down originality and uniqueness. It’s ultimately important to make a conscious effort to appreciate individualism and be unreserved in creating ideas, don’t be afraid for design to look eccentric or out of place, be afraid that it wont.

Avoiding brand dilution

While a brand can take a long time to create and refine, it can take just minutes to destroy.

The importance of quality in online and offline marketing campaigns cannot be underestimated. Before embarking on new marketing projects, it is essential that original brand guidelines are referred to in order to retain consistency and brand recognition.

The methods of growing, nurturing and developing a brand profoundly changed with the rise of social media.

Consumers found their voice and the ability to communicate their opinions freely on a public platform. It is no longer the case that brands can attempt to influence the way their target audience think. Our audience now has the power to influence our brand through freedom of speech, as well as having the platform to share their views.

However it is not just our consumers who have the power to dilute a brand.

As a design agency when we hand over CMS system log-in details, or send a batch of finalised logos or templates to a client, it’s often only a matter of time until we see ‘revised’ versions of our campaigns cropping up. A solid online brand image begins to unravel when website pages suddenly become cluttered with low resolution photography and ill-thought-through brand messages.

Needless to say, the curse of the DIY designer can be more than damaging!

Remaining focused on the original brand messages and values will help a brand to remain on track and avoid dilution. Everything from the way a company answers the phone and speaks to clients, to their tone of voice in marketing materials all add up to a successful brand identity.

Don’t give your consumers an excuse to shout about your company in a bad way.

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