What branding was and what branding is

When I started out in this industry back in 1990, I used to work on projects that were broadly in the area of corporate identity. This used to be about designing a new logo and then applying it to stationery and occasionally putting the logo on a jaunty angle on the side of a van.

This has slowly morphed into the black art of branding, which seems to have its hooks into every aspect of a business and its public face.

So whilst I was writing a presentation this morning about what branding now encompasses, I was surprised to see quite how far it had come in those 19 years.

Branding is about everything, including the kitchen sink
Branding is about everything, including the kitchen sink

Branding is now about every aspect of the way an organisation presents itself, both internally and externally. You first have to win your staff over, to allow them to sell the message of what you do, and how you do it, to the rest of the world.

So this is a list of what we have worked on under the guise of a branding:

Brand strategy, naming, design, management and implementation covering all physical aspects such as signage, van liveries, staff uniforms, office and retail interiors, point of sale, packaging and exhibitions.

Literature, newsletters, annual reports, white papers, direct mail.

Advertising production, photography, image management, illustration, print management, copywriting, tone of voice and language guidelines.

Website design and production, social media marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), email marketing, DVD and training film production, TV graphics.

Online PR, marketing research and brand insight, staff engagement programmes, public speaking on Brands and social media.

Merchandise management and strategy

Have I missed anything?

The real danger here is that working in a small agency you end up being mediocre at everything and many, many practitioners do (which is why you still see lots of dreadful work out there!), but I believe you have to have the confidence to hold the brand to its absolute core values and then work with close partners to deliver the specifics in areas you have less than expert knowledge.

Our role moves more towards the brand management and less to do with the specific deliverables.

Any brand that doesn’t cover off all its public and internal facing touchpoints is leaving itself open to problems of inconsistency from the outset, so it may be a good idea to use this checklist and refer back to your brand values.

Are all of them as good as they could be, or will a little bit of new brand thinking help get your brand properly branded?

To be a brilliant brand, you have to be brilliant at everything, not great at some and barely okay at others.

Thanks to Hoppetossen for the lovely Kitchen sink image. You can see more of his good work here.

3 thoughts on “What branding was and what branding is

  1. Branding does now include the kitchen sink, and we’ve had this discussion in the office because we often find ourselves sounding like management consultants (imagine telling your kids you are a management consultant – the humiliation!).

    This is because every single department in an organisation has a major role to play in the successful delivery of a brand, whatever industry. Even accounts needs to know when a customer prefers to receive invoices and should ensure those invoices arrive then and not when accounts prefers to send them out.

    I think that our role is that of brand management but we are responsible for aligning all departments to the core values and communicating those values and the role the department plays in delivering those values on customer terms.

    I beleive that we also have a role to play in ensuring successful implementation, at least in the initial stages.

    I think you should add, in no particular order, consumer, customer and segmentation research, content development & management, measurement, education (internal & external), metric development, customer engagement training and development. Probably more.

  2. Thanks Marcus.

    I agree with our role being more akin to Management Consultants. What is really weird is that when we set up back in 1991, we were looking as to what businesses to align ourselves with and we always felt that we would move more towards management consultants in the future as they get in at board level rather than marketing manager level – and this is where we can make a real difference to the whole look and feel and not just the pretty stuff around the edges.

    It could be worse though, we could be moving towards accountancy, actuarial services, drug dealing or even law!



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