The world of Augenkitzel
The tickling of the eyeballs
Trust the Germans to come up with a perfect single word that totally captures a complex social and psychological phenomenon: Augenkitzel. Literally meaning “the tickling of the eyeballs”, the word is used for things that titillate us and grab our attention. It is a strange habit we all have: when something moves, we snap our eyes to attention and look at it – whether we want to or not. Like actual tickling, it is a reflex we cannot resist.
Still from “Un Chain Andalou” by Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel
Not all movement is good movement
Today, our eyeballs are tickled constantly. Constant movement has come to the world of branding and is here to stay. We have come a long way from the first tentative 1950’s colorful flickering neon signs stating “Yes” “We’re” “Open”. We now live in a technicolor world that is not just visually saturated but *moving* as well. Not just a bit here-and-there: everything wipes, swipes, wobbles, fades or jiggles on our screens. There should be no surprise here: today’s screen-infested world is a rich visual jungle full of movements. We are in a cut-throat attention economy where everybody is trying to monetize consumer interest, and what better way to capture that elusive target – a customer’s mindspace – than using motion to grab a slice of that attention pie?
Well, not so fast. Not everything that moves automatically stirs the soul. Capturing someone’s eye is not the same as having their undivided attention and tickling someone’s eyeballs is very different from capturing someone’s heart and mind. If I see a fly buzz past my head, I will look at it, but is does not mean I will run out for a hot bowl of steaming flies an hour later. Moving stuff – even if well-designed or funny – can be distracting or irrelevant. And while we’re at it: yes, it can be irritating at times as well.
The motion in the middle
To be clear: at some basic level motion works, all the time. After all, we are only human. We cannot resist the tickle. But it only works to our advantage if it is part of a communication strategy that takes the big picture into account. What does the customer want and need? What is their mindset? What else is there around the moving brand experience that matters to the viewer? Context, sociology, psychology, history and a great big dollop of graphic design and branding expertise are needed to make movement truly work. Motion should not just move; it should engage.
At our agency, we do the motion last. Before we start to animate, we think about the how and what. We consider the big Why. The many motion graphics we have done for our clients over the past ten years have always been the end result of a careful and largely invisible process of deciding what *not* to do and because of that, our final creative result always has a sense of inevitability to it: it moves because it must move, and it moves the way it does because this is the best way. Sometimes, less is more. Sometime, too much is barely enough. For us, there is no standard fix-it jiggle: every motion we create, every visual change over time is unique, bespoke to the client and their needs.
When creating Jakop Ahlbom’s logo, we used the letters to visualize this collective of actors, dancers and musicians. Just like the players the logo’s characters move in a choreography, within a grid. It gave us the opportunity to show all the characteristics of the shows they perform. Adding animation gave it an extra dimension.
Stay still at your own risk
So yes, there is a lot of movement out there. But does that mean that being static and unmoving is the right move? Of course not. Motion in branding is not a fleeting trend. We will never go back to a still world, just like we will never go back to full-on black-and-white television or fax machines. Color is here to stay, and so is motion. And in today’s screen-filled world, it is only a matter of time before your company’s logo or message is called upon to show its moves to the world. Will you be light and feathery or bold and powerful, like a bolt of lightning? Whatever your moves are, have no doubt: at one point, your brand will be invited to the dance.
Good motion design should be rooted in great brand design, but the opposite is true as well: motion should be at the heart of the brand design process. There’s no point in designing a logo or visual device without thinking about how it would animate afterwards. Thinking about your next move – literally – is the only way to future-proof your brand identity.
For the visual identity of real estate company GPS we created a system of (literal) building blocks. The letters G, P and S are created out of the same grid, the animation emphasizes this. When turning the letters 90 degrees they almost become buildings themselves.
So as the spotlight circles the stage, know that your moment in the limelight will come. Soon it will be time to move. But before you step out, why not put in a call to the experts. We will get you moving – the right way – in no time at all.