The argument for breaking the conventions of brand identity design.
One of the strongest principles of branding is less is more. A simple brand proposition with a single clear point of difference expressed consistently through a brand mark and brand identity design have long been the cornerstone of successful brands and the nirvana for brand management. But times change – as do markets – and as they do we’re duty bound to challenge the paradigm, to ask whether the old way is still always the best way?
Australia’s Deus Ex Machina is an iconic, contemporary motorcycle brand. With more street cred than just about any brand going around, Deus Ex Machina (which translates to ‘God from the machine’) doesn’t only sell ‘custom parts and hand-built motorcycles, but celebrates a culture of creativity’. It’s no coincidence that Deus was born from the same mind that created iconic Australian surf brand Mambo (also an exponent of a flexible approach to brand identity); Dare Jennings.
But Jennings isn’t alone in this approach and it shouldn’t be considered an outlier brand strategy. I suggest that we look more closely at where and how this approach to branding should be considered.
As consumers become more sophisticated managers of brand communication their ability en-mass to filter-out brands that add no value to their life is increasingly highly attuned. This super power is most impressive among the 16-30 year old Gen Ys and Gen Zs. For these audiences, brands need to fine-tune what they stand for and the way they communicate to be unique and aligned. They need to be confident, unique and comfortable in their own skin. And one way to do this is to shift their brand identity strategy away from the norm and towards the adventurous.
As Deus Ex Machina have demonstrated, a flexible approach with an ever changing brand mark effectively demonstrates a brands non-conformist, convention breaking credentials. When these brand attributes align powerfully with your audience, you’re duty bound to explore such a brand identity strategy. This approach however isn’t for the faint hearted or brand management novice. The flexible branding approach requires a rock solid and consistent visual style that holds-true through every piece of brand communication. It also required a brand to behave consistently to it’s values and credo. But if this is your market, and you have the brand game we strongly suggest you explore this kind of an approach.
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a brand agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more here
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Images courtesy Deus Ex Machina.