Geoff Linsell, Managing Director at Moving Brands, is an expert in brand strategy and was the first professional I met to get some insights and definitions about living identities, flexible design systems and his understanding of branding.
I loved Geoff’s openness to sharing details about some specific projects they did at Moving Brands. It was great to receive a lot of new input about brand thinking, and we also collected some core challenges brands have to face in our moving and ever-changing world. Here are some quotes extracted from his expert input which point out some major issues in branding.
Brands need to be defined as persons.
“We live in the same world, but we are different people. Some of your friends could describe you and say, this is why I like him because this, this, this. And actually you do not want to give him too much coffee because if you do, this guy gets crazy or whatever it is. You can think about what the brand could be in those terms. It is quite a good way because we are all familiar with how describing personalities. The first basic step is to say what is the personality, what does it look like, so you got a personality type when you start to use adjectives and words which describe that, and then you start saying, ok, he, she or it is this kind of person. Now how do they live in the world and how do they behave which is a different thing. So you can be generous, you can be male, you can have all of these characteristics, but then how do you as a generous male live in the world, when you live peacefully, you live in a graceful way, so your behaviours in the world is another set of characteristics to define. So we say what is the type of personality and how does that personality behave.”
Going from the personality to creative expression
“It being something that is ever-living, dynamic, and actually standing for something and having meaning, you have to know the boundaries. It can be as playful as you want but you need to know what the boundaries are. Why is it playing and what is it representing when it is playing and how do you get yourself into a space to make the creative representation as meaningful as possible. That is why we do all the things with personalities and behaviours, you have got something to tie back to. And the magic is in when you are building this personality and its behaviours, it has to be faithful to what you want the brand to be. Because then you can make the assets, that comes quite easily, you make the personality, you make the assets, and the assets can do what you want them to but they are all in service of the beginning and the story and the strategy at the beginning.”
Consistency and inconsistency in identity systems
“You give edges to the identity but you allow people to play within the edges, rather than giving them a solution that you have to do it like this. In the world of branding, there has been a lot of logo police and lots of control has been pushed into the mechanism. And it is about we as a brand team, we are in charge, we tell you how you can use the brand and we will define it for you. And when we have defined it, there will be a rule and a guideline and it cannot go outside of that. Then it becomes inconsistent. Consistency and inconsistency are interesting things to think about in the context of dynamic branding. When is something no longer consistent and how much inconsistency can you allow, to the same question asked in different ways. This is an interesting issue that clients are struggling with. Because it is not a case of how does an identity system need to be built to be expressive, how much can it flex and change in that world, how broad does the system need to be, but when it lives in the real world and it starts to face challenges that were not thought of in the beginning, so when you create a system, you are basically capturing a moment in time.”
Stay tuned for the full expert input where Geoff also shares some info about the work they did for Nokia and Swisscom, and a lot more topics about contemporary branding and living identities. The input will be available in the soon-to-be-released Dynamic Branding App!