SSHHH Brand Silence 
Tony Wilks in Brand Design

Image © World

Look around you on your journey to work, and you’ll see the constant need for human interaction with technology. Examples abound, from a person listening to a favourite artist on an iPod, to someone catching up with news or posting weekend achievements to social media sites on a smart phone. Humans in first world countries have become a race that’s constantly switched on. And whilst brands are increasingly savvy to our addictions and looking to push their message through different digital channels, the lasting effect from such promotional efforts can be detrimental: a brand’s message can devolve into brand noise.

Progressive brands understand this problem and find other avenues to be true to themselves. Their confidence allows them to stick to their founding beliefs and values. Yes they still need to tell the world who they are, but they communicate differently. The phrase “you don’t have to shout to be heard” has taken on a new and important meaning.

Image © Gensler

The perceived confidence in the beauty of simplicity is something that’s not new to us. This simplicity is expressed and recognised in different ways; a pattern, a colour, a proposition. Either way it’s the visual and emotive connection we have to brands that stick with us. These connections are why we’re loyal to them. Established brands go through the de-branding phase, eliminating their brand name (Starbucks) trying to personalize their offer to create a like minded community (Coco-Cola) or offering customers a break from visual noise (Selfridges Quiet room.) Such reactions tell us that brands are trying to connect and understand their costumers with a level of honesty and transparency.

Image © Gensler

This connection doesn’t stop at face value; brands constantly evolve to engage consumers, staff and clients through the physical environment. If we understand the brand at face value do we understand it when we experience it? Brands that communicate consistently and clearly in these areas tend to find more success. Apple is the epitome of this thinking in brand, product and retail experience. As designers we can help mold and shape the future direction of these companies by thinking how we communicate their difference through effective simplicity and confidence.

Tony Wilks
Tony Wilks joined Gensler in 2003 as a Senior Graphic Designer, and now leads the London brand design group. His passions include brand strategy, identity, environmental graphics, signage, way finding, and contemplating the brilliant work of his predecessors while enjoying a cup of hot coffee at his kitchen table. Contact him at
Article originally appeared on architecture and design (
See website for complete article licensing information.