The More Things Change
This image comes from an absolutely stellar post by cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken. The general crux of the post is that the kinds of problems being solved are changing, and that the rate of things moving from A to C has increased to breakneck speeds. I think all of this is true, and his descriptions of A through D are spot on. However, the rest of his post raises some issues for brands and designers.
Grant suggests that within corporations there needs to be a team that specifically delves into gray areas and can very quickly change the model for solving problems. Speed and change are the two drivers for this group of specialists. This speed and change is meant (I think) to reverberate throughout the organization. All of this seems to be culturally relevant, and rings true in terms of how companies manage people. I think that sometimes in terms of brand that when the pace quickens and things seem to be rattling about all around, that is the time you slow down to understand the things that actually don't change. As those are the things that a brand is built around.
When the unchanging value or drive of a brand is discovered it becomes much easier to quickly adjust your tactics and design to service that goal. That's what great brands do. They recognize exactly what they are, identify how culture changes and then figure out how those two fit together. If you change for the sake of change, then the jig is up. There is no brand.
Designers like to believe that they can create timeless creations. We aren't beholden to trends dammit. We are original! To be kind I'll say that all of this is occasionally true. But designs change. For instance:
But the thing that drives UPS, solving the problem of getting something from here to there doesn't change. Even when those things are packages, or supply chains. Either way, the brand rings true even when font changes.