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 [25], nor does it help brands thrive in the twenty-first century [27].

In this thesis I will show some real life projects with the intention of showcasing technological avenues for the creation of this type of identity. I have been personally involved in one of those cases (Motley Agency branding 2020: analysis of the kinetic identity). Working on it has been a substantial learning experience for me, both in what touches the theory and practice of visual identities, and my personal evolution as a software developer.

I have a firm personal belief that the most interesting results in design (or art or music for that matter) come from intersections between the act of creation and the mediating technique. The movable letter blocks created by Johannes Gutenberg in mid-fifteenth century made text available to an audience in a dramatically different way [38]. Not only did the quantity increase, but also the relationship between people and the written text changed. New formats have been created in response to the new medium and a whole industry has been born out of it.

In this thesis I will describe one such intersection: on the creation side are the components of a visual identity; on the technical side are the digital technologies (software). Some of the greatest changes in our society can be linked to the invention of the modern computer [38]. Some of these changes have been thoroughly analysed, some have not yet been understood, some have not yet come to be.

The research question behind this thesis targets one of those changes: how has the modern computer, in the guise of software, caused changes in the practice of visual identity? These changes can be, at least in part, linked to an expanded space of visual creation made available by the advent of software [20].

In particular, through the project described in this thesis, I tried to understand how a visual identity could be created with motion and interaction built into its core. This is what I call a kinetic visual identity. This will be done via the metonymic components of typography and graphical elements. I will show how the elements created by a designer in collaboration with a developer can occupy this expanded space of visual creation.

The project described in the end of the thesis does not take enormous steps into that direction, but it does nevertheless take steps. My main goal here is not to detail a definitive account of the creation of modern brand identities, but rather to show—with a case that I helped produce—some avenues for further investigation, as well as some interesting results.

A word of caution is probably necessary at this point. Although I will strongly advocate, throughout the thesis, for kinetic visual identities, I do not claim these are visual identity silver bullets. Nor do I mean to suggest that not taking this approach amounts to dated or inadequate brand identity work. My main argument is that the space of possibilities has expanded and so must our conception of the practice.

Thesis structure

The main focus of this thesis is on a visual identity project in which I worked at Motley agency (Motley Agency branding 2020: analysis of the kinetic identity). My goal here is to describe the part of that project in which I had an active role, and which, in my opinion, shows the most interesting aspects of the techniques I want to discuss. But, most importantly, it is able to clearly convey the ideas presented in the theory (Why a kinetic visual identity) and context (Case studies) chapters.

This part of the project is comprised of two kinetic visual components: the brand typography (Typography) and graphical elements (Emblem).

The Introduction, gives an overview of the thesis as well as a motivation behind the work that is described in Motley Agency branding 2020: analysis of the kinetic identity.

Why a kinetic visual identity defines what a visual identity is and puts it in the larger context of a brand. It then differentiates a static from a dynamic visual identity and then goes on to describe the expanded space for visual creation enabled by software, specifically in the realm of vector graphics, typography and the graphical elements of a visual identity.

The Case studies section showcases the expanded space for visual creation in more detail. There are two cases about typography and two about graphical elements of a visual identity, each with a slightly different approach and results.

Motley Agency branding 2020: analysis of the kinetic identity analyses the work in which I worked as a developer from my perspective. It takes the previous chapters as motivation and working context to show yet another set of possibilities within this practice. It explores two components of the visual identity: the company’s kinetic emblem and typography.

Finally, the Conclusion summarises the process of creating a dynamic visual identity by means of an iterative process between designers and developers.