The trend in design changes frequently. At times, between a gap of 10 years and, rest until a company like Google decides to disrupt the concept of design, eg. the recent material approach to mobile-first designs. But in between all fuss, there is always a "language" to how a brand adapts a new face. This "language" is the mark of consistency and original face of a brand. Everything else comes on top of it. This consistent portion of translative design is what empowers a brand.
The above image shows seven iterations of the Windows logo from Microsoft. They all are different in broad design. Windows 3.1 logo from 1992 is a basic artwork of a glass window. Between Windows 95 and XP, the design saw a tilt in its orientation. From Vista, Microsoft adopted this glossy-emboss approach
to its design. Windows 8 became a lot simpler, flater - given the flat design trend in late 2012. It took 25 years of design evolution to get Windows 8 logo from Windows 1; a gap between 1985 and 2012. But if you look closely, Windows logo has always been about the "+" shaped separators,
while the four glass panes kept changing
. This was Microsoft's "language" for Windows. A person knows it is a Windows logo when he sees one - this is Microsoft Windows' brand power.
A company’s brand is consumers’ perception of that company.
Similarly, BMW would be a great example of design consistency over a really long time. They have managed to change their car designs from vintage boxes to right-out-of-sketchbooks hybrids like BMW i8. Yet, keeping their signature front grill and logo same. For over 50 years, people have recognised a BMW without failing, thanks for their "language" atop modern design.
We will not go short of examples for this phenomenon of consistency in design. There is Apple, UPS, Mercedes-Benz and Pepsi to name the popular ones. But how do a brand find their "language" to design?
Breakdown Your Existing Design Philosophy
Apparently, the best way to discover your most important element of
brand in design is to break it down. Start by ripping of colors. Then, shapes. Tear down everything unless you are left with that irremovable element
after which you will lose your brand identity. That element, sire, is the most basic and first component to your "language".
Make a Framework For Your Design
A framework is called itself because everything else is build on top of it
. A brand's design framework
should define the pillars to its approach with design. It has to be future-proof, ready to tear down walls and be still against winds of change. A good framework is adaptive - to colors, shapes and angles. The above mentioned change in Windows logo is the best example to this framework. The "+" borderline between each of the four window panes is Windows' framework. It is adaptive to color, shapes and angles. It will welcome change without losing its brand significance.
Don't Change; Adapt
This is the bitter truth. A consumer can only percept about your brand when he recognises it well. Distinguishing comes later. It is recommended to be less prone to overhaul change. Instead, adapt
, without losing the consistency. A brand should resist overhauling their philosophy to design at small intervals. To not be left behind in trends, they should consider adapting few pros of it and test on feedbacks. This will add clarity to your brand without losing on the juices of brand recall. For example, the current trend is flat and colorful. Instead of redesigning themselves, a brand should first consider losing the skeuomorphic
elements from their current set. Flat will follow.