How we can adjust to the blurring of advertising and design

As changes in technology have opened up new ways for brands to connect with customers, the lines between advertising and brand identity design are blurring. This is a fundamental shift that’s creating new paradigms to which we must all adjust

Brand integration, evolving technology, expanded communications, a fragmented media landscape, and a deeper understanding of customer experience have all contributed to this shift in the industry. But arguably the biggest thing that’s changed has been the ending of brands’ ability to control the narrative in the way they once did.

Thanks to social media, everyone now has a platform. People have grown adept at avoiding ads and differentiating between paid-for and non-paid messages. And consumers’ comments can often carry greater weight than paid, ‘official’ ones.

For some brands, adjustment to the new paradigm of the social world in which we now live is to double down on, well, social media. Consider Balenciaga. Back in 2021, via irreverent collaborations with the likes of The Simpsons and a series of visually striking shows, including one in which models carried fake babies across the mud-drenched runway, the brand became endlessly talked about. Then, controversy erupted over a couple of poorly-judged campaigns – including one with a child holding a ‘BDSM teddy bear’ – and prompted a spectacular social media-fueled backlash.

For other brands, increasingly, the answer to the question of how to regain control of the narrative is doubling down on brand experience. And this makes sense: a brand owner that nails its brand experience is more likely to get talked about for the right reasons.