A brand is like a wardrobe…

Having been involved in the development/management of a few brands, when I saw this quote from Michael Hendrix from IDEO, I just had to share:

Hendrix put the challenge to me metaphorically, with the firm represented by a person with a wardrobe full of outfits. “There’s you, the person, and you have your full identity in yourself,” he says. “But you know contextually when to wear certain things. You might wear one thing to a funeral, you might wear one thing for a Saturday night. You understand those contexts. And those never change your identity, so to speak, but they do start to communicate some kind of intent. And that’s what we’re trying to figure out right now. How do you create some kind of contextual mirror to create intent.”

This is so fitting (’scuse the pun) and deeply reflects my thinking and approach to branding. A brand is not just about the visual identity. It’s a system of values that are applied in a variety of contexts. This applies to tone of voice for copy as well, just as strongly (which, of course, is also a reflection of the brand). It’s great to have such a nice succinct analogy to call upon in explaining the concept…

I also love this idea of a “responsive identity”:

Imagine it’s 15 years in the future, and you’re wearing Google Glass 3.0. The spectacles have matured far beyond their awkward picture-in-picture beginnings, now offering something much closer to true augmented reality. It’s a strange new hybrid world. You glance at a subway station and see an overlay of how long until the next train arrives. You look at a dog, wonder what type it is, and a voice in your ear identifies it as a Thai Ridgeback. Of course, commerce has kept apace. A window display at Macy’s comes to life when you look in its direction; a virtual billboard on top of the Starbucks facade rotates through a half dozen drink specials.

This future, or one like it, isn’t hard to fathom. But here’s something that’s a bit harder to pin down: What does the logo on that Starbucks look like?

That’s one of the things Hendrix hopes this project will get his designers to start considering. “We haven’t had to think about responsive identities,” he says. “We haven’t had to think about time or space. And I think those will all become more important dimensions.”