Are you letting technology dictate your design? I surf and surf and the waves of the Web never cease to pull me under. It’s clear that branding and marketing professionals must constantly be on the lookout for the latest trends, media platforms and communication technology.

Considering the plethora of options out there, I’m surprised to see so many brands stuck in the old days of print-only advertising and marketing campaigns, which clearly do not translate well to the Web or mobile media vehicles.

We’re reminded daily of the stronghold mobile platforms are taking in the lives of almost every consumer group. According to Pew Research Center, 87% of smartphone owners access the internet or email on their mobile device, including two-thirds (68%) who do so on a typical day. In addition, 25% of smartphone owners say that they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer.

As for designers, how do we stay creative and relevant within these changing parameters? Does it mean that all of our brands will be simplified to a universal-type design and the power of uniqueness will be gone?

In few cases, yes, I think some companies might go the universal route purely because they lack creative strategy and, perhaps more commonly, because of budgetary concerns.

As the head of a creative and tech-savvy design studio, I think the latter option is, in fact, not an option. Accepting and embracing evolution, both creatively and in business operational aspects, is what keeps a brand relevant, at the top of its game and sets it up for future success.

When faced with creating a new brand identity, I like to think of the brand’s extensions as a family of siblings. To better adapt to these new cross-channel platforms, our studio builds more complex brand guidelines for logo usage and designs several variations of layouts to compliment numerous devices. For our work in the publishing industry, we create sub-brands for the online and mobile versions of the printed publication.

National Geographic magazine is a superb example of a powerful brand effectively spread throughout multiple platforms. According to an article in FOLIO: magazine, National Geographic is becoming the third-largest media brand on Facebook behind Disney and MTV. In addition to its award-winning print and digital publications, television channel, and numerous films and documentaries, National Geographic reaches its audiences in the following areas:

Web: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/

Mobile Web: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/mobile/mobile-web

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/natgeo

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/NatGeo

Mobile Apps: http://on.natgeo.com/ns6wEg

Blogs: http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/

Perhaps your brand doesn’t need to cover as much media territory as National Geographic, but it’s important to note that many of the strongest brands today are also the most deliberately malleable.  And while print and marketing campaigns still get the job done, the best results arise from strategic design paired with your audience’s communications platform of choice.

(Pew Research Center statistics obtained from: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Smartphones.aspx)

(National Geographic statistics obtained from FOLIO: magazine, June 2011 issue, “National Treasure” article by Matt Kinsman, http://www.foliomag.com/2011/national-treasure)