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Cool looking motion is not always good motion design

Getting things moving

As design moves forward as an industry, more attention is being paid to the way it moves. The dominance of social media has seen traditionally static brands start to think about how they exist in the world of moving image. But how do we bring life to a brand that feels right and isn't just movement for movement's sake?

One of our challenges as designers is to define how a brand moves, feeding into and supporting the rest of the visual identity without competing against it. The moving and static elements to any brand should feel like two sides of the same coin, evolving and developing in tandem. The real creativity comes when threading the same motion theory throughout a brand as a whole; the master elements like the logo animation becoming the spark to start the wheels of a motion identity turning.

Like any part of a visual identity, motion needs to service and bring value to a brand. We're not just making nice looking animations (although sometimes we get to, which is always a good time), we're designing motion with a purpose. Does this behaviour make something easier or harder to understand? If it's the latter, we're probably in dangerous territory. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then we have to be sure we're presenting the best picture we can, especially if there are 25 of them every second.

Great motion design has a sense of the obvious and a hint of the unexpected. Humans tend to have good instincts when it comes to predicting how something will behave in the real world; tapping into that perception is a winning formula when designing a moving brand. Bubbles float, balls bounce and squares don't tend to roll very far on their own. Knowing when to bend these rules for impact is a cornerstone of animation and motion design. The worst-case scenario for any motion designer is to have a colleague (or client) ask why something behaves in the way it does; motion should be intuitive and sit neatly within a brand's identity.

Of course, some projects allow you more creative freedom than others. An abstract identity will lend itself to the world of the weird and the wonderful, whereas the more functional brands will need motion to draw the eye but land with purpose, elegantly. Often it can be harder to make a simple behaviour feel fresh and ownable than it is to provide a suite of flashy and experimental assets that make an exciting case study. Whether we're pushing the boundaries of creativity or breathing new life into an established brand, both ends of the scale should have a home in any modern design agency.

These considerations are what we focus on with all motion projects that come through the studio. Has this particular behaviour earned its place in the project? How can we apply this consistently throughout a brand and avoid the sense that we just wanted to play with all the toys in the toybox? We always try to tailor our motion approach to our clients' needs as much as we like to push creativity wherever we can. Sometimes that means getting that square rolling, but often it means just letting it be a square.

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