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Monthly Archives: January 2015

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.

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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.

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