Once upon a time you created a logo and with it came a tombstone-sized brand manual containing all the rules of what you could and could not do with it and other graphic assets. These tombstones went into tiny detail on things like how big to show the logo and on what coloured backgrounds, fixed clear space between it and anything else and EXACTLY where to place the logo on any layout. These still exist at large global brands but it is becoming increasingly difficult to follow the rules, given the myriad of digital (often ephemeral and social) communication channels.

All kinds of businesses are taking advantage of this change in brand strategy and are creating what I call agile logos. These brands contain a set of fixed and a set of flexible assets which retain a strong identity whilst still offering lots of flexibility and energy. It might be interesting to consider that your logo does not have to be a fixed asset as you could flex with either style or colour. You could fix that you only use monotone photography but you could introduce new typefaces... the possibilities are endless!

Google is an interesting example, notice how the colours are always the same for each letter – yet each version of the logo is hugely different.

Google is an interesting example, notice how the colours are always the same for each letter – yet each version of the logo is hugely different.

y being more flexible you won’t be weighed down by strict rules and complexity and instead you have a handful (at most) of powerful components whilst letting the rest be determined by things like current trends, the season, tactical promotions or niche audiences. Do note though that successful fix/flex brands must make sure the fixed elements are distinct and visually strong to cope with the variations of more temporary additions to retain crucial brand recognition.

Whilst keeping your brand fresh and relevant, another benefit of more flexibility is that it is easier to pivot brands which is where you point your brand in a different direction to attract a new audience. And if you don’t have enough flexibility in your brand, I believe communication ends up too repetitive which narrows the appeal and limits your growth potential.

Consumer brands are ahead of business to business (B2B) companies when it comes to flexing their logos. This is likely to be because they are used to change and usually deliver more tactical campaigns. I believe B2B brands should behave more like consumer brands (you are still communicating with real people after all!) and be less strict with their brand guidelines – or re-create them in a way that allows more creative freedom.

The US fashion brand J.Crew are not too precious about their logo and uses completely different versions. The brand still holds together really well because of consistent photography and styling. It is also hugely appealing to their audience’s sense of individuality.

The US fashion brand J.Crew are not too precious about their logo and uses completely different versions. The brand still holds together really well because of consistent photography and styling. It is also hugely appealing to their audience’s sense of individuality.

Another excellent example is the restaurant LEON who have no hang-ups at all to play with their identity. Yet, it still all holds together through a distinct colour palette and illustrative style.

Another excellent example is the restaurant LEON who have no hang-ups at all to play with their identity. Yet, it still all holds together through a distinct colour palette and illustrative style.

Flexible logos are able to tell more meaningful brand stories that resonate with their audience. It is also more fun so relax, sit back and let your logo off the leash a little. I don't think you will be disappointed!