Dynamic Visual Identities: Model of Features and Mechanisms

Recent years were marked by a growing demand for dynamic visual identities, observed not only in their increasing number but also in research conducted in the field. In terms of classification, several approaches exist. However, they lack the objectivity necessary for comparing different dynamic visual identities.


As we are dealing with Visual Identity (VI) systems, we believe the categorisation should be based on how variation visually occurs on the components of the VI system. As such, we propose a model model for the analysis of dynamic visual identities, based on the difference between variation mechanisms used to attain dynamism and features achieved [2].


The Model


The proposed model considers three aspects: (i) identity focus, (ii) variation mechanisms, and (iii) features. The first aspect – identity focus – concerns whether or not the VI is focused on a graphic mark (often referred to as “logo”), which means that the entity is identified and recognised by a graphic mark.


The second aspect is how VIs change visually. We identify eight different variation mechanisms (VM), which are illustrated below using schemas (Figs. 1-8). Note that (i) one VI can use more than one variation mechanism; and (ii) one VM can be applied to multiple elements of the VI system. The eight VMs are:


  • Colour variation: There is a graphic element that changes in colour;
    Figure 1

    Colour variation

  • Combination: There is a combination of different graphic elements that belong to the visual identity system;
    Figure 2


  • Content variation: There is an area or space where different imagery is placed;
    Figure 3

    Content variation

  • Positioning: There is a graphic element that is positioned in different ways;
    Figure 4


  • Repetition: There is a repetition of the same graphic element;
    Figure 5


  • Rotation: There is a graphic element that is rotated;
    Figure 6


  • Scaling: There is a graphic element that changes in size;
    Figure 7


  • Shape transformation: There is a graphic element that changes in shape.
    Figure 8

    Shape transformation



The third aspect that we consider is the set of features that can be found in DVIs. Note that one DVI can have multiple features. We identify the following seven features:

  • Flexible: The dynamic visual identity adapts to different contexts in which it is applied, either in terms of media and content;
  • Fluid: The dynamic visual identity is capable of changing in a continuous way;
  • Generated: The variations of the dynamic visual identity are generated by an algorithm;
  • Informative: The dynamic visual identity provides information to the audience;
  • Participatory: The dynamic visual identity allows people, other than their designers, to be involved in and influence its design;
  • Reactive: The dynamic visual identity automatically reacts to external input;
  • Unlimited: The variations of the dynamic visual identity are unlimited;


The model allows an easy comparison between dynamic visual identities and the creation of objective categories. In addition, it is oriented towards the development of new visual identity systems and may serve as a supporting framework for designers to address specific necessities of the client, such as giving an active role to its public and fostering proximity to the brand.


Survey and DVI analysis


The process that led to the development of the model involved a survey of current progress on DVIs and the analysis of related terminology and existing classification models [1]. Current perspectives lack objectivity and specification, failing to distinguish between mechanisms and features. For these reasons, they are unsuitable for one-on-one comparison as well as general analysis of DVIs. Our model focuses on the relation between using variation mechanisms to attain certain features.


In [2], we also demonstrate the application of this model to a set of DVIs and present an interactive web-based visualization tool (accessible here), which makes it easier to study the collected data and extract conclusions from it.


Studying Flexibility


The type of dynamism depends on the variation mechanisms used, which may confer different features to the visual identity. One of these features is flexibility, which consists in the ability to adapt to different content and formats. In [1,3], we study how flexibility can be achieved using different variation mechanisms, by conducting practical experimentations.


Help us in developing the model


The model described is still being developed. We welcome suggestions of Dynamic Visual Identities for us to analyse and classify. You can make your suggestion here.





  • P. M. Chaves, J. M. Cunha, T. Martins, and J. Bicker, “Flexibility in Dynamic Visual Identities: Exploring Variation Mechanisms to achieve Flexibility,” in Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Design and Digital Conference (DIGICOM), Barcelos, Portugal, November 15-16, 2019, 2019.

  • T. Martins, J. M. Cunha, J. Bicker, and P. Machado, “Dynamic Visual Identities: from a survey of the state-of-the-art to a model of features and mechanisms,” Visible Language, vol. 53, iss. 2, pp. 4-35, 2019.