The top visual brand identity trend you need to know about

Intense social focus on sustainability is forcing companies to change whole aspects of their brand identities, believes Juli Beard, Director of Research at Mindlab. She reveals why updating visuals is only the start of the transformation companies need to undertake. 

What is the current top visual brand identity trend?

Adapting to today’s sustainability agenda is the biggest reason companies are revamping their visual identity. Changes can be influenced by many different factors, such as companies wanting to do the right thing, consumers holding brands to account, and legislative changes. Changes in materials used and extent of packaging then result in needing to adapt the whole visual identity of a brand, retaining the key qualities, but in a more environmentally friendly way.

How difficult is it to visually demonstrate the sustainability of your brand?

It’s not a quick or easy fix. The move towards sustainable brands is not just about changing materials or imagery but also about shifting broader consumer perceptions. Can plain cardstock look high end, for example? It takes time to really alter how consumers view a brand, and it can also be a difficult balancing act: how much do your consumers want to know about your sustainability credentials, at every touchpoint?

What should companies consider when updating their visual brand identity to demonstrate sustainability?

Look at high-end whisky. Right now, it is still considered a luxury product but how long will that continue if distillers don’t adapt to be better for the planet? To what extent do some of the excessive outer packaging, gold foiling and heavy glass start feeling frivolous as high-end consumers become more conscious of their environmental impact? There’s pressure from all directions to get it right so companies are updating their whole production practices to rely less on fossil fuels and use water more responsibly. And, they’re designing lighter packaging with a lower carbon footprint.

The difficulty then is if and how to communicate these improvements to customers. Packaging and promotion highly influence perceptions but is that the place for the conversation, especially when luxury is key? And if a company switches from a traditional glass bottle to aluminium containers, how is it possible to ensure consumers still feel as if they’re buying a premium product? Understanding consumers is really key to making those brand decisions.

This is the second of three articles with Juli Beard being released over the coming weeks as part of our Mindlab Experts series. Keep an eye out for the final article which reveals how to approach a heritage revamp. 

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