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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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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.

 

altus_logo_drawing

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

New Monkton Combe School advertising campaign

This week we've been appointed to work with the world famous Bath Abbey on their interpretation project. The Abbey is one of the most popular places in the South West with over 350,000 visitors per year. Clearly, the Abbey is most importantly a church and a place of worship. Our task is to achieve the right balance between satisfying the hunger for knowledge and a calm place for prayer.

Ice House Design have been awarded the contract to create a visual identity for Calls in Confidence. An organisation whose raison d’etre is to assist employees and management with grievances and problems with anonymity and sensitivity. The application of the identity will be over print and web.

Okay, so we want to tease out the secure aspect of the business. For the mark we’ve got a couple of interesting c’s there which might be useful and we need to bring in friendliness and approachability with the type. So the names is long; how do we get this to work in a more portrait orientation. And, what colour palette might articulate strength, confidence, professionalism and security whilst being friendly…? Come back in a few weeks.