Creative briefings that clients provide us with these days typically mention target audiences consisting of men and women aged 18-25. Apparently, in this period of age consumers are willingly to connect with a brand on a more sustainable base, which is the perfect ground for brand loyalty. As creating brand loyalty is of vital importance to a brand, it seems highly important to know about the occupations of this particular group of people.
One of the main need-to-knows is, that the world of today’s “average target audience” (men and women aged 18-25) is highly visual. Science has proven that younger generations are more visually oriented than ever, and the world they live in responds more and more to these visual needs. Communication mainly runs via interfaces on which emoticons, icons, and other imagery play key roles. As a consequence, brands need to create strong visual appearances to remain part of their target audience’s world.
The initial brand response to this “visualisation” of young people has been iconisation. We have all become familiar with Apple’s apple, Nike’s swoosh, and Bacardi’s bat. These icons are used as brand identifiers on pack, in communication, and also as badging tools on for example clothing or gadgets that consumers carry around. A logical next step would be to implement these icons onto the small tiles that fill the interface of any smart phone carried around and heavily used by our average target audience.
So, the challenge for today’s marketer seems clear: get ready for Iconisation 2.0 by creating strong brand icons that work on the small smart phone tiles. Extending consistent brand communication to the app-store.
To enable strong brand communication on such a small spot, it seems wise to keep a few rules in mind. At CARTILS we have defined three golden rules to make your brand ‘AppReady’:
1. Define your visual brand essence
So far, traditional larger communication areas like labels offered room for all kinds of supporting visual evidence, but now it is time to make choices. Room for more than one convincing visual element is just not available in an app-environment. So, which element is the main ingredient of your visual identity? This key element should be unique, create instant recognition, and should able to communicate your brand world with all the right associations.
A visual essence could also exist of a few elements that are used randomly or a certain style. Like Coca Cola uses its logo, the red colouring, and the silhouette of its famous bottle based upon relevancy.
2. Create a K.I.S.S.able execution
Small communication areas do not allow rich detailing or many layers. For the execution of your app-icon there is only one way to go: K.I.S.S. or ‘Keep It Short & Simple’. The idea is to create an iconic element that works on a square centimetre. So, the visual essence that was defined in step one might need a more simplified execution. Hereby it is wise to keep in mind that abstract shapes are relatively easy to implement on a small area and have – once learned – high recognition potential. More concrete shapes on the other hand have a stronger ability to communicate a story. Find the right balance in developing your unique symbol would be the advice.
3. Ensure consistent use
Last but not least, consistent use of this app-icon throughout all means of brand communication is required to make your icon effective. From now on, if this wasn’t already the case, this element is your key brand identifier. The more your target consumer is exposed to your brand icon, the better, so make sure it is found in and on all means of communication.
To build a brand in today’s visually oriented world, both brand managers and brand design agencies have to start thinking from the small smart phone tile-area for communication purposes. Adding layers with supporting evidence in environments that offer this space, like label designs, is more effective than to de-layer an extensive visual environment to one single element that powerfully needs to tell the same, complete story.
It could be a challenge to create or maybe choose one single element that is capable of communicating your brand story, but if you succeed you’ll have the strong visual brand base that keeps in touch with your audience. Then, your brand is truly ‘AppReady’!
About the Author
Gaston van de Laar is the Client Services Director at CARTILS, an international brand design agency with offices in Amsterdam and London. Gaston has over 20 years of comprehensive design and branding experience and is overseeing all strategic and creative output and responsible for client relationships.