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Tuesday 15 February 2011

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Is your brand keeping apace with your business? It appears that this is currently happening to Wikileaks and that its visual identity is falling behind.

The New York Times recently featured an article about the imagery associated with Wikileaks, suggesting that branding needs to keep up and adapt to a changing public image.

The Dutch design research studio, Metahavan, presented new approaches for Wikileaks’ visual identity at the conference “I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I Want to Be There” in Amsterdam. Metahaven suggested Wikileaks’ “image economy” which refers to “the set of images and faces, visual impressions, that surround the organisation and the values that these stand for” is becoming more global and needs to reflect this visually in the public sphere.

Wikileaks is now more complex and more serious than it ever was before and its branding and “image economy” need to define a new Wikileaks. As the release of diplomatic cables and documents are transforming the site and its founder, into known entities, it becomes easy to overlook the visuals. “Does it matter what it looks like?” asked Daniel van der Velden of Metahaven. Well maybe it does.

When it comes to branding, the question is not always about how you want to be represented, but how do you want to be positioned amongst new audiences and a new organisational architecture.

Does Wikileaks want to continue it image as renegade and controversial journalists, or rather position itself as a major geo-political player and a place of international diplomacy and transparency?

As Wikileaks is being redefined in the public sphere, its branding needs to evolve with it. The company needs to promote an image of transparency, righteousness as well as reflecting its transnational structure and contemporary information culture and architecture.

As new visual identity options begin to be “leaked” on its site, we can learn that identity is something that needs to evolve and transform with a company or organisation. To stop your image being left behind, branding needs to travel at the same speed as the business.

Perhaps Wikileaks is not even sure where it will end up and what exactly it is becoming. It is all part of a process. And identity and image need to be a part of it.

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