January 2018

The simplification of brand design in a digital era

by Daniel Hayman

Anatomy are big advocates of concept focused simple design. The shift in media towards digital platforms has created a rise in this trend and consequently has seen some interesting rebrands emerge in the past few years. We take a look at why this has happened and what it is that has made some of them so successful.

As our attention turns more towards digital applications, brands have had to rethink the way they present themselves and communicate with their audiences. As consumers we are bombarded with information and the need for distinction and space in a saturated market has never been more vital.

The practicalities of designing for many different formats and screens both small and large has meant that overly complicated design doesn’t translate well and the case for a cleaner more succinct style has never been stronger. Block colours, fewer shadows and gradients means websites and applications can be optimized for faster loading speeds.

Predominantly logo design has become a lot simpler, with a number of rebrands from Gumtree, Mastercard and the Premier League opting for an often flatter and more simplified execution of their logotype. This ensures an identity comes across clearly at all sizes and resolutions.

More emphasis is focused on visual language as a whole through use of colour, typography, icons and even animation enabling brands to play out across multiple platforms whilst maintaining the core of their identity.

Typography is particularly relevant, as a simple device for communicating, a typeface can say so much about a brand. The example below shows a bespoke type built around the visual approach to the identity. Used across multiple formats, it reflects the bold, vibrant nature of brand and gives it instant recognition.

One of the hallmarks of any of the recent rebrands that you’ll notice is its emphasis on bold and striking colours. Bold and vibrant colours make an impression, having a strong distinctive colour palette is the simplest and most powerful device for translating a brand across any platform.

Playful design systems can constantly change to meet the requirements of a brand. This is especially relevant as brands become more complex with subsidiaries and offshoots reinforcing the need for a strong core identity. This has meant that design systems can communicate elaborate ideas with more immediacy and less space than written communication.

These examples demonstrate a shift in trend predominantly driven by a change in how we interact with brands digitally. However despite this digital revolution it’s been a necessary evolution in an increasingly crowded market. Cleaner design focusing on increased legibility cuts through the noise, giving a better, clearer brand experience. There is more attention on retaining the idea and purpose behind the identity with focus on the details of the type, iconography and colour. Successful rebrands win customer loyalty which drives performance and creates value.