In such technologically advanced times as these, it's exciting to be a designer and imagine how we can use technology to create more meaningful and engaging brand experiences. Specifically of note is the flurry of dynamic identities developed in the last year or so which use technology to redefine what a logo can be and do. According to a recent article in FastCompany, "Today, logos aren’t just a symbol, static or dynamic, of the business, but a tool for, and the site of, the brand's community-building efforts."
The following brands are challenging industry norms in a variety of intriguing ways:
Wikipedia by Moving Brands
This may have been only a hypothetical logo redesign for Wikipedia, but it's still a viable demonstration of how technology can provide greater meaning to a "living mark.” The wealth of information offered on Wikipedia, the world's largest online encyclopedia, is actually fed by nine sister sites. To promote Wikipedia's role in providing information to its users, Moving Brands developed a proprietary "W" master logo comprised of nine distinct nodes which represent the sister sites. Once a search term is entered, connections emerge within the master "W" to indicate the topic's location within the site's constellation. Users are reminded for each and every query that there is a sophisticated system responsible for serving up that information. Genius!
AOL by Wolff Olins
Rebooting the AOL brand to reflect a media superpower capable of providing "extraordinary content experiences,” Wolff Olins portrayed a flexible and modern company that informs, entertains, and connects users to a non-linear world. They achieved this by defining the AOL logo within an ever-changing set of backgrounds—forced-connection at its best. And their decision to use external content to inform the bounds of the logo is a statement in and of itself: AOL is only as good as the content they provide.
Casa Da Musica Identity by Sagmeister Inc.
Inspired by Casa Da Musica’s uniquely shaped building, Sagmeister renders infinite permutations of the logo with the aid of 3-D rendering software and a proprietary logo generator which outputs logos based on colors found in images of famous musicians. I find it interesting, however, that no actual music is used to inform logo permutations. Maybe we’ll see that in the next installment of the brand. That one’s on me, Sagmeister!
MIT Media Lab Identity by TheGreenEyl
TheGreenEyl managed to capture the MIT Media Lab’s technology-centric, collaborative culture with their identity system. Thanks to an algorithm that represents individual students collaborating with each other, a user can interact with a web interface to obtain her very own mark—a signifier and identifier of her unique contribution to the collective whole. I love how this system uses technology to “draw” a unique mark for each user—that is, with the help of a few clever humans telling the robot what to do. It’s a system that’s not only representative of the institution but also of its users. Now that’s a concept fit for the 21st century!
With unprecedented access to new technologies, we can now take brand experiences where they’ve never gone before. However, it’s important to remember that there is one thing that will never change: a brand’s identity is only as good as the minds and talents behind it, and the strategic vision and authenticity they create.