Grady: Motion Is Branding’s Future

GDUSA Interview With Kevin Grady, Senior Partner, Design, Lippincott


GDUSA: Tell us about yourself, your background, and your current role at Lippincott.  

KG: I’m currently a Senior Partner in design at Lippincott, a global creative consultancy, where I spearhead programs out of our San Francisco office. I have over 30 years of branding experience and I’m a passionate advocate for the power of creativity as a crucial component of business success. Throughout my career, I’ve worked on a wide range of brands, including Google, Boeing, Converse, Gap, MTV Networks, Grey Goose, Blue Origin, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Psychedelic Furs. My “Singing Cowboy” concept for Truth was nominated for an Emmy and my work has been recognized at Cannes, D&AD, The One Show and many others. I founded Lemon magazine, a celebration of pop culture which featured exclusive collaborations with David Bowie, Daft Punk and others, and I also worked with the FDA to design the new nutrition facts label. So, you could say it’s been a pretty eclectic ride to this point!


GDUSA: What are some of the biggest trends you predict emerging in the design space in 2022?

KG: 2022 will see motion design expand into most areas of branding as digital billboards, online interfaces and apps become increasingly dynamic. Animated album covers on streaming platforms will begin to replace traditional, static album covers, and motion logo mnemonics will make 2D identity expressions seem archaic by comparison. Sonic branding is finally starting to have its day in the sun, and that will only grow from this point on.


GDUSA: You feel motion design is the future of branding. What insights can you share that back this prediction?

KG: Today, we’re hyper-exposed to brands and experiences. That means to successfully break through, the billboards of the past featuring 2D creative will only go so far. Motion can create deeper, more memorable emotional connections between people and brands, conveying deeper meaning, amplifying personality, and enhancing interaction, particularly in our digital-first world. Just look at some recent advances in the use of motion: an ultra-high-resolution curved video billboard in Tokyo, showing a now-famous giant 3D cat moving stealthily across a 1,664 square foot LED screen, turned heads to a degree that 2D could never touch. Other examples include companies like Netflix and Vodafone, who’ve used 3D advertising on the massive Piccadilly Lights screen in London to great effect.


GDUSA: Can you share any examples of how motion design will impact specific industries? 

KG: For a start, it’s already starting to have a significant impact on graphic design, and branding in particular. To this point, the majority of design firms out there have employed 2D designers overwhelmingly over animators or designers with motion experience. Thankfully, many younger designers have delved into these realms as part of their design education, but there is still a massive amount of opportunity for graphic designers and firms to expand these capabilities. Simply put, many clients are in need of content as they move beyond traditional media into more experiential areas, and motion is a big part of these areas.


GDUSA: How will sound make design systems more memorable and unique?

KG: Sound is the fastest human sense, faster than smell, taste, sight, and even touch. Combine that with the fact that music elicits emotion, which is a big driver in brand loyalty, and the potential for sound in branding is crystal clear. Just look at one of the most successful instances of this: McDonald’s long running “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign and jingle. Created by ad agency Heye & Partner in conjunction with music production company Mona Davis, the five-note earworm of “ba-da-ba-ba-baaa” has been used to memorable effect ever since. Similarly, companies like Mastercard have invested in developing high-quality audio assets and have gained significant ground on their rivals as a result. Here’s why: Stats show that sound moves important brand metrics in significant ways, including a 26% increase in brand awareness and a 46% increase in brand favorability. What’s more, an 86% correlation has been made between reaction to sound and a desire to return to that experience.


GDUSA: What is your advice on how designers can begin to leverage motion and sound design effectively?

KG: To be successful, brand leaders and designers should prioritize a motion- and sound-based strategy, pivoting from using them as “nice-to-haves” and making them part of the core design idea. Currently, it’s common for motion and sonic elements to be explored only after creative direction has been established. But, when these components are explored at the outset of a project, a much more holistic brand expression is possible. Simply asking how sound and motion can be used to answer a strategic brief is a great place to start.


GDUSA: What are the design techniques that you anticipate phasing out in 2022 and years to come?

KG: That’s an interesting question. In branding, I think the list of typical design deliverables is changing rapidly. A brand’s logo, colors, typography and imagery are all still very important, but they are only a part of the story. I anticipate a shift towards much greater emphasis on more dynamic elements—sound and motion being two examples—as a brand’s expression becomes more experiential and interactive in nature. How can a brand change behavior? How can it move beyond the expected confines of its specific industry in a way that’s culturally relevant? This will require more conceptual thinking from designers than has typically been expected in the past, and more collaboration with experts in other creative areas. It’s actually a very exciting time.