Motley 2020: a kinetic visual identity

Régis Barreto Frias

Master’s Thesis
Aalto University
Department of Media
MA in New Media
Supervisor: Reunanen, Markku
Advisors: Kiss, József G.; Kommonen, Kari-Hans


Visual identities are not what they used to be. The paradigm of the visual identity as a static, top-down, normative monolith does not reflect its current praxis, nor does it help brands thrive in the twenty-first century. In this thesis I will develop two arguments for why a visual identity should strive to conceive motion and interaction at its inception.

First, that the visual elements of a brand do not need to be set in stone and can be constantly updated based on needs of its stakeholders, and they can even be actualised at the touch-points with the customers. These are some of the cornerstones of dynamic visual identities, defined here as one that has guidelines flexible enough to preserve consistency while allowing openness and flexibility to adapt to new contexts.

Second, that we live in an increasingly digital world, where motion and interactivity are part of our everyday experience. These elements must be incorporated into the core of a visual identity in order for a brand to address and respond to customers where they are and in an idiomatic language. It is not enough that motion and interactivity are created as an afterthought. They need to be built into the very logic of the visual identity.

In this thesis I will demonstrate the aforementioned arguments with a survey of the current theory and practice of visual identity. Then I will exemplify it with a few case studies from established brands.

Finally I will analyse two components of a visual identity in which I worked, and which has some of the features described in the arguments. The first component is a kinetic and interactive typeface that simulates the behaviour of a variable font, but which was based on an existing static font. The second component is a kinetic and interactive brand visual element and emblem. Both components were created using modern web technologies.

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