Bryan Taylor

New Frontiers in the New Year

Lots of change is always in view as the end of one year draws to a close and the first page of a new calendar is flipped. Some years are entered with pessimism, others with optimism. As I think about 2015, I see a change coming that is not necessarily positive or negative, but one that will begin to elevate us into a bit of a new era.

The dot com surge is well in the rear view mirror. The shock of September 11th has now come full circle with the opening of a new World Trade Center. The boom of the last decade and the bust that followed have also slipped further into history. And the past couple of years have demonstrated relative stability. That has me predicting change in the year to come.

In the world of design and brands, I am always looking for what has staying power. Dot com logos were all the same and quickly dated. But other trends have staying power, and they often mirror bigger changes in society.

Remember Enron? Big, thick, Helvetica logo that staked a claim to importance… until their 2001 debacle undermined all trust in the company. Other giants quickly countered to visually appear smaller and more approachable. All caps AT&T changed to little at&t, as did cisco, xerox, citi.  They all became lowercase and lighter in color.

This fall, Major League Soccer, our nation’s quickly growing professional soccer league, unveiled a new logo and it has triggered something in me – a change I predict for the year to come.

Shields and logos have made for happy marriages for centuries, but toward the end of 2014, I started to notice lines escaping the usual containment of the shield. And there was no bigger example than the new MLS mark.

Now, while brand marks ultimately have very little influence on how we move and think as a society, they do reflect a collective sentiment that is particularly noteworthy. The past couple of years have experienced a measure of safety and relative stability. They have felt an air of cautious optimism that seems ready to break out of the tradition and safety of their former confines, just like the lines beyond the shield.

And this is why I find the year ahead to be one ready to embrace change.

The 2015 challenge for brands is to navigate the need for balance — the balance between being progressive and being a stalwart. Strong brands are always relevant and out in front, but also never forget to remember where they’re from and who they’ll always be. That will be a particular challenge in the midst of changes I see in 2015.

So welcome in the new year, stay true to your history that has endured waves of former changes, and be ready for the new wave of change that is poised for the year ahead.