2017 will be a year of radical changes for branding. But look five years down the road to 2022, and “branding” the way we understand it today may hardly exist at all. According to experts, the future is rife with personalized logos, brands built by artificial intelligence, and even brands literally living inside our bodies.
EVERY PERSON WILL HAVE HIS OR HER OWN LOGO
“Logo design and branding have reached such saturation in our society and economy that even your kid’s math tutor has a logo. The only next step from here is everybody having a personal logo. We’re already close: People choose avatars to represent them in social media, monograms to represent their belongings, and the trend is toward consistency across platforms. It only makes sense that people will want their graphic representations to be simple and effective—and that gets you into the realm of the personal logo.”—Sagi Haviv, partner, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv
EXPERIENCE WILL REPLACE IDENTITY
“As brand identity becomes more mutable and more and more companies come to life in a quickening cycle, the value of the unwavering ‘mark’ will diminish. As a result, corporations will rely more on the experiences that they deliver than on the identity that adorns their headquarters, website, or app. A seamless series of brand experiences will define the modern brand identity; this can be seen in hospitality where the customer’s experience outweighs the logo, as well as successful digital services that generate brand recognition through micro, consistent, repetitive UI and UX interactions, not from a formal brand identity per se.”—David Schwarz, partner, HUSH
BRANDS WILL LET YOU DESIGN YOUR OWN “BRAND WITHIN THE BRAND”
“In five years, products will no longer be bought off the shelf. Rather, individuals will create personalized versions of products, developing their own ‘brands within brands’ in the process. By way of example, I will no longer buy a standard Nike Free Run, but rather order up the Geoff Cook Free Run as designed by me. Micro-commerce will thrive, with friends, family, and social acquaintances buying into a given individual’s brand. Those who possess exceptional taste and talent will develop loyal followers (like PewDiePie) and rise to the top. As a result, identity will become more fluid, needing to become more accommodating to the vast numbers of people who interact with a brand.”—Geoff Cook, partner, Base
BRANDS WILL DEVELOP LIKE MEMES
“There will be major brands that develop like memes. They will not be created by businesses or organizations but rather crowdsourced cultural phenomena with no formal leadership or management (similar to political movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street). Businesses will work to serve these brands (and their communities) by creating products, services, or experiences that reflect the brand’s values and unique cultural, stylistic attributes. Some businesses will succeed at this while others will fail as judged by their social and market performance. Interestingly, businesses will increasingly become suppliers to brands rather than suppliers of brands.”—Thomas Ordahl, chief strategy officer, Landor
Here’s where debranding comes into play.
It will shift from branded products to branded places: stores and their owners who select and sell the products they like. Instead of brands, real people and real tones of voice will become the interface between consumers and products again. That’s the heart of debranding.
And it is totally in line with today’s networked society. Traditionally, branding is based on the idea of what differentiates a company from competitors. A brand grows by billing itself as different, by isolating itself from others. But increasingly in the Internet age, consumers are comfortable with the idea that everything is interconnected. So what distinguishes brands is less important than what brings things and people together—whether your iPhone can talk to your Prius, for instance, or whether you can read articles from disparate sources in one place, like on Facebook. The brand that screams the loudest no longer commands the most attention; the one that offers something genuinely useful does.