After the second world war, capitalism took off in a big way. Brands vied for our attention through television, radio and print advertising; each of them attempting to convince us to choose them over the others. It was a one way conversation. Messages flowed in one direction, from the company to the consumer. Branding was, in essence, the packaging and advertising of products, and brands needed to be expressive in order to get our attention. In millions of households across the world, televisions beamed advertising messages into the brains of consumers to convince them to part with their hard earned cash. TV was the perfect medium – engaging, entertaining and emotional. Brands understood the power of moving images to make people think, feel and behave differently.
Conversely, the companies that produced those products presented themselves very differently. They didn’t need to interact with regular people. They didn’t need to be expressive. They were corporations, and corporations didn’t have personalities. This was about business and the only thing that needed to be expressed was what the company did and its corporate values. It was more important to present a consistent image with an identity that represented the company and so corporate identity was born.
Born in the age of modernism, corporate identity was largely about utility. It was a uniform that a company wore for the purpose of identification. Consistency was the order of the day and guideline manuals were followed to the letter with no room for interpretation. Corporate identities were toolkits made up of logos, colour palettes and typefaces; devoid of any kind of emotional expression.
Corporate identity designers were happy to follow the same formula for years, churning out corporate toolkits and identity manuals in their sleep. But it wasn’t until a little thing called the internet came along that things started to change. All of a sudden consumers were given a voice and the one-way communications of yesteryear became two-way conversations.
Companies could no longer present themselves as expressionless corporate uniforms. They had to develop likeable personalities, engage in conversation and express themselves in ways that surprised and delighted their customers. The game had changed. Companies too were forced to become brands – expressive, living entities that engaged with their audiences. Corporate identity was dead and brand identity was born.
That’s why everything and everyone is a brand nowadays – even corporations. You can think of brands as being a bit like people – living, breathing entities that seek the love and adoration of other people. Ultimately brands try to make people fall in love with them and that inevitably means emotion and expression are involved. Great brands know how to tap into your emotions with expressive personalities that attempt to influence how you think, feel and and behave.
That’s where motion design comes in. Film and animation are two of the most powerful tools we have as designers to shortcut to the soul and make people feel something. The marriage of moving image, music and storytelling resonate inside human beings in a way that’s primal. Film and animation transport us from our regular realities to new places. They tap into our innermost feelings and trigger our emotions involuntarily. Motion and emotion are therefore intrinsically linked.