Computer Arts special report with ManvsMachine: Motion matters

ManvsMachine founder Mike Alderson faces a conundrum. “We wish we didn’t have to say that we’re a design and motion studio,” he says. “We wish we could just be a design studio, and people would get it because you should assume that motion is part of it these days. Can you think of a logo that doesn’t feature on-screen somewhere? I can’t.”

Nike Air Max Lunar 1
The motion design for Nike’s Air Max Lunar 1 uses organic, animalistic animations to capture the dynamism of the product.

Jane Geraghty, president of brand agency Landor, agrees. “Screen-based design is on the increase given that screens are on the increase,” she says. It’s not surprising that Alderson and Geraghty are singing from the same hymn sheet, seeing as Landor bought a majority stake in ManvsMachine at the beginning of November 2015—“part of an ongoing strategy at Landor to broaden its creative capabilities,” as the company put it at the time.

Predicting how branding will evolve in the future is a difficult game on a crowded field. We’re surrounded by message evangelists, storytellers-in-chief, and digital prophets telling us that the branding landscape of tomorrow will be defined by emotional connections, meaningful interactions, or TMI (which Fast Company has described as “a Venn diagram of transparency and romance”).

Xbox ~ Motion Brand Identity
As part of Microsoft’s campaign to change the way consumers see the Xbox, ManvsMachine created “a motion brand language for all on screen exposure”—from TV advert tags to longer animations.

Surely one confident bet would be that motion will play a pivotal role in the future of branding. In fact, surely it should already be playing that role.

Five ways to master motion

As motion continues to play an increasingly important role in almost every branding project, here are a few tips from the professionals about getting the best results.

1. Start early

Bring the experts into the process as soon as possible. If a branding project has already been put together and then motion designers are brought in to make it move, you won’t feel the full benefit. Motion design should be an intrinsic part of brand thinking, not an afterthought.

2. Trust the experts

Following from the above, if you’ve made the effort to collaborate with motion specialists, there’s no point just having them rubber-stamp your ingrained way of thinking. Give them the time and space to explore and challenge your preconceptions and, in Vera-Maria Glahn’s words, “have the confidence to be convinced.”

3. Be flexible

According to Geraghty, brand coherence is much more important in this day and age than brand consistency. Give the motion designers the freedom and autonomy to push the brand in directions that make the most of their medium even if that means stretching previous understandings of a brand’s parameters.

4. But don’t be too flexible

That said, know when to stop. Motion design for its own sake is pointless. Motion design that goes too far can be really irritating and actively damage a brand’s positioning. And sometimes, albeit rarely, nothing needs to move.

5. Document it well

This seems obvious, but think about how motion design elements can live on after a branding project has been completed. If motion is an integral part of the outcome, then it should also be an integral part of how it’s presented online.


Click here to read the rest of Computer Art’s special report, Motion Matters.


This article, written by Rob Alderson, was first published in Computer Arts, issue 249, a special edition focusing on the future of motion graphics (February 2016).

© 2016 Future Publishing Limited. Reprinted with permission.