Brand Talks London: Looking back to move forward

We live in an age where the idea of choice is a critical component for consumers. The speed of innovation and customers’ expectations is moving faster than businesses.

Our last Brand Talks event of the year focused on insights gained from the best in branding from 2019, and the emerging brand and design trends for 2020.

The night began with an engaging keynote speaker, Simon Ashken Strategy Director of Interbrand UK. Interbrand has been the world’s leading brand consultancy for over 40 years. We live in an age where the idea of choice is a critical component for consumers nowadays, and Ashken noted that the speed of innovation and customers’ expectations is moving faster than businesses. 

“Incremental change will keep brands in the game,” he explained. “but brands need to make bold moves to leap ahead of customers’ expectations.”

Brett Zucker, Monotype’s Chief Marketing Officer, picked up this theme in presentation of the 2020 type trends, noting that “trends in type are often an indicator of broader shifts in brand strategy.” 

Among those trends is the growing interest in variable fonts in response to the expanding ecosystem of digital and consumer touchpoints. Variable fonts are still in very early stages of adoption, but there is increasing optimism among designers that they can have an exciting, transformational impact on branding as we know it.

“Incremental change will keep brands in the game, but brands need to make bold moves to leap ahead of customers’ expectations.”

Simon Ashken Strategy Director of Interbrand UK.

Along those same lines, another trend is the pursuit of typographic harmony for global languages outside the Latin alphabet, which reflects the need for unified branding around the world. With expansion into new territories and endless growth of channels where brands must engage with their customers, brands need a visual identity system that sets the foundation while also allowing for localised and organic extensions.

Brett also moderated a wide-ranging panel discussion featuring all of the evening’s speakers--Ashken; André Harris, Jr.  Head of Graphic Design at Photobox; Derek Boateng, Design Lead & Art Director for TransferWise; and Rosie Akenhead, Brand Marketing Director at Time Out.

The panel discussed the continued importance of branding consistency in 2020, as well as the increased focus on socio-ecological causes. Boateng stressed that when it comes to this latter concern, it’s crucial to be authentic and avoid supporting causes in clearly superficial ways. He cited Patagonia, with its dedication to environmental efforts, as an example of a brand not only adopting a stance, but living it. He added that brands don’t always have to “sell the solution” to the problem they’re highlighting, but they should use their visibility to help people understand the repercussions of their actions.

Lastly, the panel touched on experiential marketing, which has been a central component of Time Out’s branding. Akenhead cited the move into food markets as a unique (and successful) way for people to engage with the Time Out brand, while allowing Time Out to deepen its connection with the exact kind of local businesses it traditionally covers.

Our Brand Talks events for 2020 are already starting to take shape with some insightful new talks in the works. Find out about the next Brand Talks near you at: monotype.com/events.