From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, the language of brands was in a bit of a golden age. During this time, creative teams at agencies we’re given days — sometimes even weeks — to craft the language and visual expression of the brand. What resulted was a breadth of imaginative work that has yet to be rivaled. Just check out the Communication Arts annuals from those years and you’ll be blown away.
With the advent of the Internet, everything sped up. Digital tools allowed us all to execute more quickly. As execution time sped up, there was a tendency to shorten concepting time as well. Unfortunately, you cannot rush the process of incubating a great idea. And so, as we saw the quantity of executions increase, we saw a corresponding decrease in the quantity of great ideas.
Brand language took a hit
It was assumed that our language needed to be simplified to just the basics in order to work in this new fast-paced world. It became generic, with website headlines reading like a course catalog description:
“We are a web design company using the latest technologies to help companies grow.”
These types of headlines littered websites by the thousands. Forget that they were dry and unimaginative. Forget that they were downright boring. Their biggest offense was that they put the emphasis on the company and not those that they hoped to serve. How did we so easily throw aside one of the golden rules of creating a compelling brand?
And what happened to the magic of all that brand language from the decade before?
What goes around comes around
After a couple of decades of accelerated executions, it has become apparent that more and faster does not equal inspiring and engaging. It’s time to get back to thoughtful ideas that spark surprise and delight among those we hope to serve.
We can’t return to the old days. Things will continue to move fast. But we can be deliberate about putting in quality time with our concepts before we rush to execution. One of the easiest ways to do that is to be mindful of the intent and…