Breaking the mould in brand design
There is no doubt that the uncertain times we are living in have increased an underlying sense of anxiety and volatility in us all. Whatever instability this is fuelling, however, our world is also more connected and empowered than ever before and there is a real sense of optimism, energy and opportunity. Could these uncertain and often alarming times actually be the perfect landscape for brands to shape the future? There are many ways in which brands are realising their responsibilities and taking risks to drive positive change. They are proving that these are the times to innovate and be radical.
The re-imagining of the familiar is a theme that has been presented by the creative industry throughout time, from Dali’s Lobster telephone to recent furniture design from Evan Fay. Interestingly we are now seeing this more overtly within brand design. Our appetite for change and expectation for more meaningful brand experiences has seen sustainability within design become key to creating sustainable futures so that growth can happen within the boundaries of our planets reserves. Brands that are taking heed of this are standing out, and quickly growing advocates.
With this change we are seeing a raft of truly exciting new materials. As biomimicry is progressing, we are now synthetically re-coding spiders web for fabric and creating inks out of air pollution. Alternatives to leather, plastics and cardboards with reusables and raw materials are being developed, and even products themselves are being hugely localised. Zoa is a new bioleather brand, a sustainable alternative that helps to reduce our footprint on the planet but still utilises materials from nature. The opportunity for new design codes within the natural and synthetic space is incredibly exciting and a space that will continue to develop and diversify with the integration of technology, biology and physical systems.
Structural design is also being used to re-imagine the familiar. Abacus Pill's take on water bottle packaging is a reusable structure that can fit nicely in our back pockets – why couldn’t bottles do that? Whiskey Me have designed DTC whiskey pouches, a visual and physical world away from traditional whiskey bottle packaging but still creating a sense of premium specialness through a DTC offer.
These re-imaginings of familiar forms become part of the appeal of these brands. And it is not just design. Brands are rapidly changing their business models. Verizon understands the need to reinvent their in-store experience by stripping back storefronts to declutter the customer experience if they are to stay competitive with rapid online customer journeys. They created a holistic, omnichannel environment and approach, designing with discovery in mind to help empower their customers.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. The bar has never been higher for brand and product design, as well as business models to reimagine and challenge the status quo.