Having been in the design industry for let us just say ‘more than five years’ now, I don’t often get excited by new logos. Apart from anything else they seem to be one of the last vestiges of the old authoritarian ‘broadcast’ model of marketing communications. Immutable and unvaried they are fixed by the brand owner and imposed upon stakeholders regardless of the task in hand.
Yet there is growing evidence that the highly systematised management approach adopted by most organisations to everything, including their branding, is in fact deeply counterproductive.
That’s why the new identity launched last week for MIT Medialab really did lift my spirits and leave my pulse beating just a little bit faster.
The device consists of three intersecting spotlights in primary colours . It’s impactful, colourful, utterly relevant and amazingly dynamic. You can almost see those media spotlights moving and swirling in front of you.
But that’s only the start of it because it turns out that they really do move and change. The three intersecting spotlights can be organized in any of 40,000 shapes and 12 color combinations using a custom-built algorithm. So every student, administrator and academic at MIT can press a button on a web site to generate and print out their very own version of the logo . It can then be applied to any material on hand – business cards, letterheads, website, animations, ads, signage and so on.
The really impressive thing is that even though they are all different -some just slightly different, others hugely so, they are all instantly recogniseable as MIT. “Each of the three shapes stands for one individual’s contribution, the resulting shape represents the outcome of this process: A constant redefinition of what media and technology means today,” says designer Richard The.
OK you could criticise it if you wanted. (Insert your own opinions here). Perhaps the colours aren’t to your taste. There have to be concerns over whether such a design is registerable and lord alone knows how you would write the guidliness for its use.
It’s also true that the idea of a dynamic (ie changeable) logo is not new. Arguably the Christian Cross, which is expressed in an almost infinite variety of shapes, proportions materials and designs, was the first dynamic logo and that’s 2000 years old now.
More recently in 2005 US designer Richard Sagmeister used software which scans any image and transfers the colours of the image onto the logo to create an individual colour version, for Portuguese concert hall The Casa da Musica.
Dynamic Troika Dialog
A couple of years ago Interbrand created what it called a ‘vector logo’ for Russian Investment Company Troika dialog. It too contains three bold colours in a changing set of lines with multiple versions available for print.
Just a couple of months later Danish digital agency Creuna came up with its own dynamic logo. The ‘C’ in its visual identity can be transformed and customised by employees to form their own personal versions of the logo.
All these logos accept the basic premise of a new book out this week called ‘Loose’ by Martin Thomas. that brands do not reside in the brain of the brand manager but in the hearts of minds of consumers and other stakeholders. They accept the truth that authoritarian models are breaking down and that with the advent of interactvity and digital media, people expect to be able to collaborate with brands, to play and experiment with them, and to customise their brand experience -albeit within a defined structure.
The Medialab logo has brilliantly captured the zeitgeist and has shown the rest of us, in the words of Martin Thomas that “the future of business is letting go.”