If your new brand identity goes viral it is usually a bad thing.
When logos generate a buzz on social channels it is because they are being pilloried and vilified. Recent high profile examples include Airbnb (it looks like a cats bum!) Dirty Bird (it looks like a willy!) and the universally reviled London 2012 (aaargh my eyes!). As consumers we are extremely resistant to change. We like to understand and interpret the world around us so that we can get through our daily lives without having to think too much. We are guided both consciously and unconsciously by the signs and symbols around us and if something comes along and disrupts the status quo we are forced to acknowledge it and think about it again.
On the other side of the equation are the brands themselves, as business owners we are constantly seeking to disrupt the patterns and fight for the attention of our customers and it is not just about change for changes sake. A good visual identity works on different levels, it draws attention to the product or services and it communicates the values of the brand. We are drawn to brands that share our values and (in some cases) wear them like badges of office or affiliation. The visual identity (not just limited to the logo of course) is a communication tool that transcends language. There are some that have changed very little over time (consider the Coca-cola word mark) and others that are refreshed and modified over time to better reflect the brand’s positioning.
Sonos hit the headlines this week when it was revealed that the refreshed identity featured a brilliant (but unintentional) twist. Bruce Mau Design were engaged to refresh the identity inline the brands efforts to position itself as something much bigger than a purveyor of wireless speakers. The core theme was that of amplification, placing Sonos as the umbrella to all cloud music services. The new logo featured sharp lines exploding from an updated word mark representing the high-fidelity sound associated with the brand. When scrolling the image up and down the designers noticed a strobing effect known in the trade as a moiré. Often an unwanted side effect of fine patters on screen, the designers saw an opportunity to amplify the optical illusion and put it to use.
As you will have noticed as you scroll down the page, sound waves appear to pulse from the word (which by the way reads the same backwards, forwards and upside down!). This is an exceptionally clever way of visualising sound. The creative director behind the project admits that “no real scientific data went into our initial idea” as is sometimes the case with logos that try to be too clever but this unexpected out come really does hit the mark. Not just because it is a well-considered amplification of an elegant design but because the designers have been quite open with the fact that they came across it by accident rather than try to fashion some nonsense “brandspeak” to make it appear intentional.
Sometimes the best ideas are the ones you stumble across but you need discernment to determine whether they are rubbish or awesome and that is why it pays to hire a professional designer.