Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ideology + Identity = Basis for Branding

The fun part about branding is that there are a lot of different approaches and you simply need to find/adapt the one that works best for your organization's culture.

We find it is helpful to use small group dialogue and interactive processes to get stakeholders thinking and talking from the organization's perspective about who they are, what they want to achieve and how they are going to get there. Combined with other insights, it helps set the stage for a framework that outlines the mission, vision and values of the organization. This ideology then drives the identity involving the tagline, logomark and the brand framework, which includes traits, color, typography, key messaging, tone and application. All of this information becomes the basis for the 'brandsition.'

Key concepts for the ideology:
  • What is your core purpose?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What will guide people in their actions?
  • How does it lead to a framework for progress?
  • How will people connect with it?
  • Why does it matter? 
Key concepts for the identity:
  • What does it look like? sound like? feel like? act like?
  • What is the main point? the critical emotion(s)?
  • How will it reflect a vision of success?
  • What should people believe as a result of their connection with it?
  • What matters? Why does it matter?
That information can then be distilled into a brand framework. We believe that such a framework becomes a platform for consistent communication when captured more like a coloring book than a rules manual. It provides clear guidance on how to live and represent the brand with room for adaptability as needed by unforeseen circumstances. It may even include examples of how the brand might live forward through collateral, materials, events, etc.
If you directly link these phases (distilling the ideology and crafting the identity), you might find there is more commitment to the resulting communications and future deliverables. For instance, having the creative team represented at the strategic planning sessions offers a visible connection for the participants and a strategic connection for the process. Identifying a group of "brand champions" who are trusted by the organization (at varying levels and/or in diverse departments) often strengthens the recommendations that would be presented for decision.

Our hopes for these projects are that the person(s) accountable are able to carry forward a process that allows an effective brand to stem from within the organization's culture and ideology and then blossom due to commitment of leadership and staff that live it forward in how they represent the company. And, never underestimate the value of doing it with a process that is fun, meaningful and swift.
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