In a global economy in turmoil from digitalization and the death of mass consumption, the rules of the branding have been completely upended. The logo is no longer the single transmitter of messages about itself; the consumer-client has now metamorphosed into the ‘brand advocate’ or ‘brand detractor’. Classic advertising no longer delivers the same results; other modes of brand discourse have now become paramount. Finally, as the consumer’s relationship with the brand has become highly individualized, it is consumed to taste without conforming to an imposed order or architecture.

These new rules, epitomized and mastered at their best by new brands through the digital prism, have upended “traditional” models. Beyond their original functions (identification, reassurance, aspiration, innovation), they integrate new dimensions: empathy, the sense of utility, resonance with their times and, especially, the capacity of inspiring loyalty. Dynamic, complex, committed, they create rich consumer experiences and maintain a constant and interactive “conversation” with their communities.

In this new context, the brand is much more than a name and a logo, more, even, than an imaginary universe. It is transformed into a veritable system, using as many forms of language as media to deploy and renew its dialogue with its users. However, unable to pilot the brand before a consumer who is now in control of the system, the question of deep coherence has become essential: how to attract and federate rather than control and correct?

It’s here that Image – with a capital I – comes into play – in a world where it has become omnipresent and omnipotent, supplanting text, occasionally even speech. Brands must imperatively seize the force of the image, not ephemerally, but as a foundation to building a complete and unique visual universe over time. This brand’s vocabulary must includes its colour(s), symbol(s), typographic universe(s), form(s), illustration and / or photographic style, textures – in short, a “brand box” such as those luxury brands were first to create, to enrich and renew, transforming these brands into real ‘assets’, so many lethal weapons to capture and keep the loyalty of their addicts.

Today, all brands are not only obliged to comply with the exercise, but actually have a lot to gain from it. First and foremost, by becoming unique, even irreplaceable, because their visual singularity forms an integral part of their DNA. Then, becoming more efficient in the dispersion of their speeches, avoiding being either too rigid or watered down. A brand is not made to be read, it is made to be recognized. Finally, creating lasting commitment and loyalty through an interactive dialogue tailored with finesse to their audiences, specific moments of their life, their moods.

Accepting to break free from the tyranny of the logo, to question the visual heritage and its meaning in relation to the essence of the brand, to create new visual elements that will generate engagement over time: this is how a brand can arm itself with an identifying visual language, to build its assets for tomorrow, those that will bear its intangible values, like its relationship with a new generation for whom existence equates with image.

 

Sophie Romet, Associate Director in charge of Strategy