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An ode to the basic component of good brands.
A traditional three-piece suit will not fail to make you look good whereas an oversized tee from the hypebeast trend might or might not suit you. Does that mean, following traditions is the only foolproof approach to unfailing success?
Agreeing would be dichotomous. The world is not black and white. Let's explore everything in between.
The 21st century
B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini) is how the past is divided. When it comes to labeling the modern era, the future will refer to the present as before digital and after digital.
Before the digital era, the world was less connected. It was less complex- one could look at different aspects of total isolation. But today, the intensity of the overlaps has made it next to impossible to study something absolutely. The world has become a small town with global access to information along with products and services. Data itself has become a commodity more valuable than oil.
If the rule is survival of the fittest, so be it. In such a war zone, to get the attention of the mass, corporations are ready to make do; by hook or by crook, even if it includes chasing mindless trends or mindless traditions.
But all this overload has also created a space for a professional way of participating in this war- prediction of trends so that one could put their best foot forward.
Following or predicting?
The end-users who are slaves to trends are the ones recklessly throwing money to stay relevant in a space where everyone else is doing the same. To cater to this need, for easy market penetration or for a quick (million) buck, even business owners are chasing this ghost of trends and becoming a part of this ecosystem that satisfies no one but themselves without any contribution to humanity or the culture as a whole.
All said, trends are inevitable. It's so meta, that they have listicles listing branding trends- an industry which is supposed to have a tad bit more permanence than trends.
In the branding industry itself, the research phase is designed to also include the study of trends as a part of consumer behavior. The researchers tend to consume everything, the good and the bad; to make sure that we are not a part of the bad.
When we look at marketing practices, one of the most common activity is the prediction of trends. If you can't start a trend, at least have the first move advantage. And this is where the most significant difference between marketing and branding can be experienced.
Trends cater to everyone. Branding is against people-pleasing. Good brands promise and deliver quality to those who need it. It is about finding a niche that resonates and caters to them.
Tradition, class, and timelessness
There are multiple timeless designs that have withstood the test of time. But these tests have taken a toll on many. The perished are the trends. Over this time, the timeless designs have perfected themselves to even suit the contemporary culture.
Traditions used to be scientific. At the roots, they still make sense because in the context of the past when they became a norm, traditions still had reasons behind their following. After stories got attached to them, the reason got lost somewhere because stories have their way through the filter of generations.
This gives an insight into how timelessness operates. It is the roots that count. The greatest brands have principles rooted in them and then built upon generational relevance. The principles and values act as preservatives for your recipe, not just extending the expiry date but making it practically imperishable with the flexibility it gives in the future; if need be.
Relevance, updation, and trends
The moot point that trends have in their favor against timelessness is that trends are always fresh, interesting and experimentative. With trends, since you do not have any values to follow, you don't need to push boundaries, since there are no boundaries. There is more freedom to play.
What trends can't provide is a long-lasting effect that stays, almost imprints in the memory. The relevance it provides is as temporary as a post you just scrolled through on Instagram.
Principles and patterns
When creating, if you feel you are not original enough, remember why the concept of mood boards exist and why the best of artists invest time in creating mood boards. That is the perfect amalgamation of trends and principles. When you look at trends, avoid taking the surface into value. Dig deeper and you will find principles that made them trends welcomed by the masses. These patterns are timeless values that take you, your brand, your product- basically your creation to perpetual heights.
If you get in this practice, the only concern you might be left with is the fear of being copied. Would Massimo Vignelli have insecurities while penning down the principles of good design?
The German language has words that would require multiple English words to describe. Gesamtkunstwerk is a word that even English has adopted which means a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do so. It has transcended to become a visual art genre that artists strive to achieve excellence at.
'Don't be a trend chaser, be a trendsetter' is a diluted expression for designers and strategists who are the torchbearers of the perfect balance between timelessness and contemporary application of principles.
It is 1955- Herbert Ryman has been given the task of designing the first-ever Disneyland. He sits down on a weekend with a pencil (or two, details missing) and a large parchment and created the first draft of Disneyland. To your surprise, and bashing the theory of first drafts, the California-based Disney campus is the three-dimensional version of that sketch. Not only that, other Disneylands built after- and many other popular theme parks are inspired from Ryman's design of the first Disneyland.
Now, when you look beyond the surface fact that it is beautifully and strategically designed for maximum entertainment and reflective of the Disney brand, it shows that he basically took inspiration from the Hub & Spoke layout- the originality here is using the principles of Hub & Spoke for a theme park. The rest of the revolution is taken care of by your perspective.
The intersectional zone between trends and timelessness is time. A timeless design that is too ahead of the present will be void, just like a trend after it has matured out of saturation. The key is a perfect balance of past present and future.
Trends and timelessness have more of a symbiotic relationship rather than a comparative relationship. We cannot live in a world without trends, especially when communicating to the masses.
Practically, in branding, trends are researched to come up with a brand that is timeless. Principles + budget=practicality.
Consume stimuli as guiding narratives. Keep your senses open, not to copy the trends that come and go, but the patterns and principles that can guide you on your project. They catapult us beyond trends with energy that is built through values, systems, design and every other element that details
Who you are,
Where you have come from, and
Where you are going.
— by Manas, Content Strategist, Slangbusters Studio