Brands today exist in multiple mediums, defined by multiple voices. The media brands inhabit is iterative, with no beginning, no end, and little permanency. In that context, adherence to a big idea and endless repetition of centralized, fixed rules can make a brand seem unresponsive and out of step with its audience. But without repetition, how does a brand create consistency? And without consistency, how does a brand maintain value?
Brands as Patterns
We all know that brands are increasingly accessed digitally, but a less considered consequence is that the interface through which a brand is accessed has become a primary identity element. This requires that a brand’s “identity” should not only be defined statically or dynamically but also iteratively through successive release and behaviorally through interactions. Through this iterative interaction, the brand becomes a constantly shifting relationship between the company and its customers. Through the interface, the customer assumes the right to some control, ownership, and authorship of the brand.
Instead of a single big idea, a brand must have multiple, smaller ideas.
As the digital world evolves, the customer’s ability to inform the brand will outstrip the company’s ability to control it. As a result, the brand is no longer the proprietary tool for the company that founded it but an ongoing negotiation among the founding company, its own workforce, and the customers who have invested in the end product. The added dimension of interface reveals an unparalleled breadth of a brand’s characteristics and gives access that is perpetual and immediate. Therefore, the customer expects the brand to be as responsive and real-time as any medium through which it is accessed, while maintaining consistency no matter how it is experienced.
Have you ever looked at your brand as a series of patterns? Read this article by Marc Shillum and you may be able to recognize and make use of this analogy for your organization.
Patterns woven together, a series of small ideas, come together to create a bigger picture. There is a clear relationship between the part and the whole. The intertwined bits build a rich and full story.
To see how you could integrate patterns in your brand I recommend reading the full article at the link above.