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Fri, 30th Nov '12.

Dents & Stings

The paragon path of digital identity

Digital identity is important. In fact, it’s more important than we first assume. Whether you’re including static logos in films to communicate your brand identity, animating it, or doing something even more creative, ‘top-and-tailing’ your digital offer is a must and it can also help to develop your brand into its paragon form.

When your film goes online it is there for the world to see, which is simultaneously daunting and liberating. More often than not, people will be finding your video through sites such as Youtube, or Vimeo. When this is the case, your branding within the film means that people will know - straight away - whose film they are watching. It also builds brand awareness and when accomplished in an innovative way can inspire people to watch more of your content, or even investigate your organisation further - and you should be proud of the fact that you’re offering video content, so slap that logo onto it! A video without branding is like a dog without a stray dog; collarless, lonely, hungry and, sadly, going to the pound.

We refer to these seconds-long brand introductions as ‘idents’, and if there is a musical phrase attached to it, or a sound effect, this is called a ‘sting’. Sometimes it’s appropriate to have a sting attached to an ident, but the ident itself should be able to work completely independently of any sound, and be recognisable - if not immediately, then by the end.

UK television channels have a exuberant history of interesting and innovative idents, some of which can be seen here. My personal favourites are some of the Channel 4 ones, which often employ anamorphosis to make it initially unclear about what is happening until all the elements have aligned, sometimes only for a split second, revealing the brand. Of course, with such a strong brand identity as Channel 4 they can get away with this, but the concepts behind them are generally quite inspiring.

Behind every ident is a story - how it came to be, what it represents, a company history, what it’s trying to say; sometimes all of this conveyed within what is happening on the screen. It’s really interesting to look at the genesis of brands, how they’ve changed over the years, and the difference between the progenitor design and what we recognise today. 

Channel 4’s brand has always been the same. How they innovate is through the way that it is presented. The same can be said for the other major UK-based television channels (BBC 2 especially). In fact, the majority of established brands rarely change their logo dramatically and generally favour re-imagining it. If there is any major change at all it is in the way it is conveyed, or through minor alterations. This due to the importance of brand consistency - people grow to know and love certain brands, and it’s important to take advantage of this and not blindside people by carrying out a dramatic changes. 

For example, the original Starbucks logo was of a weird-looking siren and over the years has developed to the point where there is no longer even text - just the modernised version of the same design. This is because their brand identity has become so well known that the image alone is enough to identify who they are. And that is the whole point in branding; the ability to identify.

The same can be said for digital identity. Your film needs to have a recognisable brand at the beginning and/or end so that your audience can identify who commissioned the piece, who or what it’s about and the general remit of the film they are just about to watch.

It’s important to have fun with it, too. If you feel your brand identity is strong, then you can experiment with the way that it is conveyed through film. If you have a classic design, then perhaps mix it up a bit be presenting it in a slightly different way. The possibilities of how you present your brand through film are endless and, as long as you have the right people and the right toolset, completely achievable.