Visual B_and Language

24.11.11

To find a really good example of a Visual Brand Language, you need look no further than one of the UK’s biggest bands…

We’re often approached by clients who want to carve out a distinctive personality for their brand by establishing a clear, consistent Visual Brand Language (VBL).

We blogged about VBLs here, where we described them as:

“the intrinsic design qualities which serve to not only convey brand and/or product messages, but also – through its consistency of application across a brand’s output – to identify it as unique to that brand without reliance on badges or logos”

Or, to put it another way, it’s a sort of ‘design DNA’ – it’s why it’s possible to recognise a BMW by its door handle, a Peroni advert by the style of photography, or a Pret a Manger communication by what they’ve done to that fruit…

Name those brands...

With it so high on the agenda for many of our clients, we’re often trying to think of good examples of brands that do it well. And, while doing this, it struck me that some of the best examples might not be considered ‘brands’ at all – because they’re bands.

Take Coldplay for instance. Love them or hate them, their recent publicity drive for their latest album, Mylo Xyloto, has been a fantastically joined up campaign. Like most bands, they have a consistent visual theme across their albums and singles…

… and also their website …

… but this also extends to their music videos …

… and even their costumes, lightshow and stage decor in their live performances:

Another admirable trait is the way that they’ve been able to smoothly reinvent their image on an album-by-album basis – so while A Rush of Blood to the Head was characterised by minimalistic computer art, Vida La Vida was all Romantic art, brushstrokes and rags. And while brands typically have more considerations to juggle in terms of equities, the need to retain autopilot consumer recognition and so on, they could probably still learn a thing or two from the boldness with which these reinventions are handled.

Of course, it would be remiss to talk about this topic without mentioning the real kings of ‘band as brand’, whose consistent style across their music, album art, live shows and videos, as well as their constant reinvention, probably started it all – The Beatles:

The Evolution of the Beatles (illustration by Max Dalton)