Digital-proof brand: this is how BMW, Heineken and Slack do it [10-step checklist]

René Bekker | 28 October 2020

After the rise of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, there was a shift from traditional media usage to digital media usage. With Covid-19 influencing our daily lives, this shift is taking an even bigger sprint than before. In May 2020, people spent on average 7.5 hours on digital media platforms (phones, computers, tablet, etc.). These numbers do not only affect which media leading brands use to reach their audiences, but also the way in which they do this.

A strong digital presence is crucial for brands. This guarantees that people are able to find your product or business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year. But digital presence is only the beginning. Making sure your corporate brand identity is digital-proof and mobile-friendly is what really drives digital success. Top 500-companies are now not only changing their corporate design elements, but also the application of these corporate identity elements. Here are some of the biggest trends we’ve encountered.

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1. Simplification

In the world of brands, we see more simple and clear logo designs that are minimalistic and easily used across all channels. Brands tend to step away from complex logos with 3D-effects (glow, drop shadows, emboss) and often opt for a more flat design. This results in a clear logo without any redundant elements that are distracting from the brand name. Besides, a minimalistic approach improves readability which is crucial for a solid application across all digital channels. A good example is the recent rebrand of Volkswagen. Let’s take a closer look at how their logo and corporate identity has changed.

When you look at the older Volkswagen logos, you see a multidimensional 3D design with a lot of detail. In 2019 however, they have changed the complete look of their logo by launching a clean, flat design with more contrasting colours. MasterCard, Starbucks, YouTube, BMW and Warner Bros are other examples of well-known brands that changed their logo to a more simple and flat design.

2. Responsive branding

Responsive web design has been a topic that gained a lot of attention over the past years. But what about responsive branding? A logo should be able to adapt to all digital formats, whether someone is visiting your website on their tablet, smartphone, or desktop. And that is exactly what responsive branding is. Smart logo and brand elements that adapt to all screen sizes. If you want your brand to be digital-proof and mobile-friendly, this topic should be at the top of your agenda. Below are some brands that have a logo-set suitable for all types of digital uses.

Image Source: responsivelogos.

3. Bold fonts and contrasting colours

Last year, we saw a clear shift from italic and light font logos to bold fonts. This results in a clear statement logo with excellent readability. Even in small formats and on small screen sizes the logo is clean and clearly displayed. Two examples of brands that have made their fonts more bold and contrasting are Slack and DuPont. Furthermore, is important that your brand colour palette has enough contrasting colours as this will improve readability.

4. Landscape logo with a characteristic element

Users are 89% more likely to remember logos shown in the traditional top-left position of your communication channels than logos placed on the right. This layout works best with linear logos due to the limited space in this area because of menus, search widgets, website language variations, etc. We see that leading brands usually create different variations of their standard brand logo to fit these layout requirements. This also means that it’s important to think about how your logo fits app icons. The best way to do this is to have a clear icon that can be used stand-alone for your app icon and other profile images, for example on social media. A special recurring element strengthens and increases brand recognition. Unconsciously, people link the characteristic element that also appears in your logo, to your brand which has a positive effect on your brand awareness and contributes to achieving a top-of-mind position for your brand.

"Users are 89% more likely to remember logos shown in the traditional top-left position of your communication channels than logos placed on the right."

5. Digital-proof imagery

There are a lot of different screen sizes and you need to make sure your imagery is compliant with all of them. When you collect or create images for your image library, it’s important to make sure your images are wide and have a lot of ‘empty’ space on both sides. Also, make sure the ‘subject’ of the images is in the center. On smaller devices, images are cropped vertically (in width) and hardly horizontally (in height). Never forget to run tests for several devices in the editing space when using new imagery. Furthermore, it’s important to take into account that to support your brand, the right use of imagery is very important. Another tip is to have your images support the goal of your communication. For example, if conversion on your website is key, using an image where a person looks at a certain button or call-to-action you want to be clicked can have a huge effect on conversion rates.

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