So what’s all this fuss about branding then?
Branding is often treated with suspicion sometimes characterised as vacuous and superficial. And there is no doubt, branding done well is a great skill and often involves creating clever illusions. This is both it’s glory and it’s sorrow. But any brand that is going to be truly successful must be built on fundamental truths and it is incumbent on designers to tease these out. So, it’s not about pulling the wool over the eyes of an audience, more about articulating the personality of the brand in interesting, relevant and charismatic ways.
It is understandable why there is so much confusion about branding because the demands on the concept are constantly growing and mutating and can encompass the important and the trivial. Branding projects can be directed upon things as diverse as individuals, countries and even ideas. And, the digital revolution has opened up a mesmerising array of possible channels. Our studio uses the expression ‘brand tapestry’. This we use to describe the gradual building up of an image of an organisation over multiple channels. Products, services, ideas, attitudes and values are woven into this fabric.
Many organisations communicate with a variety of stakeholders who come into contact with the brand. Customers, staff, shareholders, journalists, suppliers, partners etc. The messages can be very different but should be spoken with one voice. There can be huge benefits to good design and branding. In many large organisations the value of the brand significantly outstrip its physical assets. It’s obvious then this needs to be protected, nurtured and invested in – just like any other asset. Brands can engage emotionally, elicit pleasure and build loyalty.
I suppose we should be flattered the National Trust have recently adopted nationally the design we created for one of their sites, Brean. See blog post February 2011.
Schools, both independent and state, are having to think more creatively about their branding and marketing communications. Senior leadership are of course conscious of new admissions and retaining pupils – these will alway be important objectives. Increasingly though we have been involved in designing pieces for schools that don’t fall directly inline with more traditional promotional comms such as prospectuses.
One of our clients has significantly increased the print run of their yearbook that we design and produce for them which is then used as a de facto prospectus – without the traditional marketing delivery. Written by the pupils depicting them and their work, the book articulates visually and linguistically the broad opportunities available at the school. This beautifully produced almanac is a refreshing change to traditional prospectuses and comes across as authentic devoid of overt persuasion and contrivance. Other times we have created quirky fundraising mailers and advertising campaigns a million miles away from the more common educational approach.
Edie Brett and Felix Renicks have developed the Visit Bruton website. A great site concentrating on food, countryside, culture and resting in and around the Bruton area. Worth looking at if your planning a visit to the South Somerset – visitbruton.com
An early sketch of the last phase of the logo marque development, part of the branding project we undertook for Altus Ltd, based in Bath. Teasing out the nuances of an organisation and boiling them back to a collection of marks which capture the essence are at the nub of what we do.
A logo marque is an important element, it is at the heart of internal and external perception, if used effectively and consistently. An identity marque is a simple, strong visual expression of intent, rooted in brand itself and provides a strong platform for every piece of communication. However, there is much more to a strong visual identity than a logo. Typography, structure, photographic and illustrative style, verbal and linguistic elements, production details and overall quality all contribute to building the personality and visual identity of a successful brand. Our brief is often to orchestrate these powerful elements in order to design an identity system which distills the values of the organisation and creates the brand promise.
Effective branding can help elevate an organisation, business or product from simply being one of the many. It can create emotional resonances amongst an audience who will make their choice using both subjective and pragmatic judgements. It is critical for the visual identity to be coherent across all communication platforms Meticulous application of the creative elements are directly linked to tangible success.
This month sees the launch of the new Monkton Combe School advertising campaign Ice House Design have created. School advertising historically has largely tended to be a few smiling, attractive kids depicted in pleasant surroundings. Okay, but when ads need cut through and show the individuality of the institution (which they should), a more creative approach should be taken. The proposition we came up with for Monkton advertising campaign came from ‘looking at schooling differently’. We wanted to make images that were challenging, stimulating and contained humour. Images that articulate a sense of what the school is and have the participation of the pupils. The design for the advertising needed to pull itself away from the masses. Ice House Design have created a sequence of 5 ads using various anamorphic illusions that incorporate the broad age range of pupils.
New Monkton Combe School advertising campaign
Delivered this morning the new Altus business cards for the group. 700gsm, duplexed, uncoated, debossed and foiled. Understated, elegant and really rather nice.