Let’s Talk About… is a series of short publications where complex topics are discussed in an accessible and light-hearted format. Let’s Talk About… is presented as a case study of the ins and outs of the world of design for seasoned experts and newcomers alike, including those who may be undergoing the research process before engaging with an agency for future projects. With this in mind, we hope you enjoy this series of publications as much as we’ve enjoyed producing it.
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Let’s talk about disruption. Generally, disruption is a word with some heavy connotations that may not seem like the best to describe your brand.
In broad terms, what is disruption? Well, depending on who you ask, there are two accepted definitions.
A disturbance or problem that may break the flow of regular day-to-day activities.
A radical and abrupt change that revolutionizes an industry, such as a new technology.
But when it comes to the world of branding, we’d like to add a third definition for disruption. A disruptive brand or logo stands out so much from similar brands or competitors that it just screams for your attention while other brands just whisper.
Let’s take a look at one example. The following image includes the logos for several metal bands, notice anything strange?
In an industry where most logos tend to steer towards a visual feel that is closer to the macabre or industrial/modern, one band went with the complete opposite. This is something that helps identify the band at a glance, helps it stand out, and helps in making a lasting impression. Let’s see how this brand looks in real-life scenarios.
This design is not the original work of Diéresis Agency, it was taken from the web for the sole purpose of illustrating the points made in this article.
Clearly, there is one band that just screams for your attention. That’s the power of disruption. In a previous entry we proposed that logos should be appropriate to the industry in which they operate. While that is true, sometimes we can break the rules. Breaking any rule is always a gambit, but one that can pay off tenfold if done correctly.
While this example is a fun and simple one, how can this be applied to brands that are more serious, and established? For example, a multinational brand in the consumer goods sector. In that industry what would be appropriate for a logo is seriousness and a clean design that helps inspire credibility. It would be unwise to break off from that. Disruption is not about being inappropriate to the industry, but it is about being different and unique when standing next to the competition.
Let’s compare these brands: GSK, P&G, Johnson & Johnson, and Unilever. They all have a share of the consumer goods sector, and it is not uncommon for these four to be on the same shelves from time to time. Which of these logos stands out above the rest?
These four logos all have some of your attention, neither of them is inherently bad, but one of them does stand out a bit more, one is more “unique”. If you thought the Unilever logo stood out above the rest, you’re not alone in this.
The Unilever logo includes dozens of elements that form a cohesive shape. At a distance, very few of these elements can be identified, which is something that you may not want for your brand. Regardless of this, the goal of the logo is not to identify these elements at a distance, but to show a solid U shape that, upon closer inspection, turns out to be a combination of the many values and ideals Unilever stands by.
One of the greatest attributes about disruption in branding is that once a brand comes forward with an identity this unique, anyone who does something remotely similar will be considered a copy. If another brand launched a rebranding project with a logo that is formed with different shapes, critics will rightly point out that the design is at the very least inspired by Unilever’s logo.
Disruption is not only limited to the logo. Disruptive design can be employed in a number of things. Including the colors of your brand. In an industry where most brand use bright colors, disruption can be as simple as using black and white. The key goal of disruptive design is to break away from the norm and what is established without falling on what may be inappropriate to the brand.
Let's do one last experiment. First, which of these brands stood out the most?
Now, from this second image, which stood out the most? Keep in mind the goal of this experiment is not to find the best bank but to identify which stands out the most at first glance.
Which stood out to you the most? Let us know!
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