Flexible logos and the Face of the Brand

The New York Times reports on a trend: "adaptable logos." These are logos that are capable of holding or being meshed with other content. Examples are:
  • the logo of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, which is flexible enough to allow Olympic sponsors to put their own "brand symbols or colors" into it, "in effect creating logos within the logo of the Games."
  • The New Museum of Contemporary Art in Manhattan, which is using an adaptable logo to proclaim that it has a new address.

This adaptable logo thing is a big deal, says the Times, because "companies [normally] employ armies of people to make sure the color, shape and placement of a logo never vary."

Well, with too much control, people become distanced from the brand--it's cold.

The idea of an adaptable logo is not new. The Times points out that Google "has long been playing with its basic logo." So has Target.

What the Times does not mention is that for a number of years at The Brand Consultancy, Diane Beecher pioneered something called the "Face of the Brand" -- a methodology for brand design that allows for flexibility in its visual depiction. "It's a single graphic or series of graphics--of three or more primary brand attributes that work together." (me, Design Management Institute Journal)

Beecher says that "FOTB is the total visual representation that supports a brand and its attributes. It is unmistakably personal, representing the unique attributes of one particular brand, and takes every visual factor into account."

I've written that "the overall effect is one of a consistent corporate ID, but the sameness is like that of a family--individual members may look alike, but like snowflakes, no two are the same."

I think adaptable logos, like the Face of the Brand, are a good brand idea. As the Times reports: "In the era of blogging, social networking and mash-ups — through which consumers have the power to do what they want with a company’s logo and show it to the world — a bit of flexibility is essential, Mr. Heiselman said."

Adaptable logos/FOTB invite the viewer into the brand's world, to see the brand as a living, dynamic entity rather than a cold, unfeeling, unthinking, inflexible piece of deadness.

And deadness is not appealing.