2022: A human odyssey

ico Design's Nima Falatoori on how brands that carry themselves with truth are exciting prospects

Over the last few years, we’ve experienced one societal jolt to the system after another. A small positive to come from this intense period of turmoil has been a collective focus on what really matters in our lives. Our enforced solitude during the pandemic slowed daily lives to such an extent that we were able to see things around us that had previously been hidden amongst the clutter of incessant media noise. Imbalances in our societal structures were exposed. Our financial gains were pitted against a newly realised sense of personal happiness.

This global reset created a unified response where we started to demand a deeper level of transparency and honesty from those who are curating our lives. We wanted a more human and humane response to our concerns. Corporations had to respond publicly when claims of credence were challenged. Industries put into place working models to allow a flexible balance to work/life. Even right-leaning governments systemised emergency responses that wouldn’t have been out of place in any left-wing manifesto.

Our use and consumption of information changed dramatically

Where before digital was an intrinsic yet novel part of our lives, it quickly permeated into every aspect of our daily routine: our daily news updates, consultations with our GP, weekly grocery shopping, dealing with our council tax. With internet speeds, lightning fast ‘always on’ video content became a ubiquitous output within our social platforms. We delved into homes and living rooms across the world to hear and see personal stories as we yearned for a connection close to our old normality. Overnight, our digital information network went further, quicker and deeper than ever before, becoming a meta-sharing phenomenon, via the forwarding of links and stories.

We instantly saw behind the curtain, via differing viewpoints of the same singularity. Moments like the killing of George Floyd, and the storming of Capitol Hill showed us injustices at every corner. We were able to challenge the way brands behaved, and their reliance on social platforms to communicate their purpose allowed us to do so directly and publicly. Brands became, more than ever before, reactive to public accusations of inaccuracies and purpose-washing. We witnessed Mr Bens, Shell, VW, Tesla, amongst others, hastily repositioning themselves to save what integrity they still had.

Honesty and authenticity

Today, as we continue the fight to shape the world around us, brands are communicating in a more honest way to keep a connection with their realigned audiences. Whether that’s highlighting a social purpose that they are born from, a mission that they stand by, or simply revealing their systematic processes and practices. Whatever the content, in order to resonate, a brand’s voice must be true to that brand. Simply throwing in a sustainable side note or eulogising about carbon neutrality isn’t enough if it isn’t true to the brand ethos. You will be found out. And all this must be delivered in a tone of voice that rings true to its personality. If you’re a bold brand, say it boldly and don’t be ashamed to do so. If you’re all about the detail, make sure you include that detail and definitely make sure that what you say is correct!

Our job as brand creators is to help our clients tailor this truth. The messaging must be in-step with their ethics and values, requiring us to work harder to really understand the brand within its contextual landscape as we build these up from early creative concepts. We shouldn’t make assumptions in order to carry an erroneous or hackneyed idea. From here we now find direct lines of communication to the audience that resonate with power and authenticity. With faster video streams and immersive metaverses, this narrative can engage in ways we had not seen previously. We are able to create a sense of the brand in a way more than simply a logo, colour and mission statement ever could. How a brand carries itself with truth and transparency across all communication channels is an exciting opportunity.

Hopefully, this will be a common bedrock that we all build from and shape a world that gives us the sincerity we all deserve — and perhaps one day resonate beyond brand and organisations, throughout society as a whole.

Featured image: 2001 A Space Odyssey IMAX

Nima Falatoori

Nima started in the design industry over 20 years ago as a designer in the music industry, before working on a project to launch the first ever Apple iMac and moving into brand and identity design. He has created brand identities for organisations as diverse as Flying Tiger Copenhagen, Gulf Air and The Alan Turing Institute. As Creative Director of ico he helps guide brands to find a vision and voice that complements their business ambitions.

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