Seismic shifts in communications technology are rapidly transforming design. This brave new digital world has given rise to the concept of digital identity. Navigating this vast, new landscape requires both traditional design sense and technological savvy.
Pictures in Pixels
As graphic identities move into a digital context, designers will encounter some notable differences. Print on paper offers high resolution, but low color depth (typically only two to six inks, with solids and halftone screens). Digital displays, on the other hand, offer relatively low resolution but high depth of color (RGB used in millions of color combinations).
Instead of simple line art shapes or screens of halftone dots, digital devices display pixels—square “picture elements”—to create images. Out are clean, sharp graphics; in are softer, pixilated (antialiased) edges.
Graphic identities in digital spaces present new opportunities—more colors available in more places—and new constraints, such as the problem of creating a nice-looking image in a 16-by 16-pixel favicon.
Building an Online Identity
Digital media offer vast, new opportunities for identity programs. There is a dizzying array of new choices, and they seem to be changing all the time.
Smart phones and social media are opening up new avenues for online identity programs. Know that basic design principles are as relevant in Facebook and Twitter as they are for a product or package.
It’s been said that half the money in advertising is wasted, but the trick is figuring out which half—a problem online advertisers have endeavored to solve.
Progressive firms will be targeted but aggressive in building digital brands, taking opportunities to experiment with new models, to fail fast, and to stay agile enough to react to changing conditions.
There is clearly fertile ground in the identity elements such as motion, time, and sound. The opportunity for innovation is too large to overlook. In the future, digital brand identities will be less about any specific artifact or brand control and more about inclusion, affinity, and the entire customer experience envelope.