How Does Your Brand Grow?
Your brand is alive.
Did you know that? Consider an ever-growing garden: it evolves even if you decide to dump trash in it, neglect it, and let it grow over with weeds. Though you nurse and refine the garden until it’s the most beautiful yard on the block, occasional pruning will still be necessary. Just like this garden, your brand is alive, despite your neglect or best efforts.
And just like that garden, your company’s image is in full view, regardless of how you care for it. People who work for your company can’t help but see everything, good and bad—the way a company speaks about its employees, treats its customers, does or doesn’t spend time on new initiatives, conducts new hires, and rolls out new products. Again, your brand is alive—far beyond just a logo.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing a renowned designer, Paula Scher, speak at the Cleveland Institute of Art. In case you aren’t familiar with her portfolio, she has worked for some big (and small) clients (i.e. Coca-Cola, Citibank, the Philadelphia Museum of Art).
Your brand should be tended to.
While her presentation covered much more, she continually touched on the idea that brands are alive, and that where her work ends—establishing a brand—the company’s work begins. The solutions to balance the load between the hired designer and company differ from case to case, but they all have this in common: someone should continue to work intentionally on a company’s image, whether internally or externally, after the brand has been created.
Another point she made was equally as important: the higher up the designer can reach for input in the brand at the project’s inception, the higher the success rate of the project. In other words, someone like the Vice President should be the one in the meetings, not the intern. What I gather from this is that those in higher management need to care and be invested in their company’s brand, not just at some point in their history, but from the beginning of the work and onward. Executives and Management: your presence in this is important. This is your garden; tend it.
For those of you who don’t have the pleasure of being in higher management, it is so very important that you also care: you are the life and blood of the company for which you work. A brand can fail or be made by the people who are hired in. Your attitude can shape the way a company breathes, especially if you are customer-facing or work directly on marketing materials. You are important and this is also your garden. So make sure that your ongoing efforts to convey that brand in your words and actions are in alignment with the company.
As for us, the designers, we must strive to do everything we can to understand the goals for your brand, gently give input as outside observers, and then develop a brand that will achieve the goals you’ve set forth. We’re landscapers, if you like, and are equally responsible for helping bring the garden into existence.
So how is your garden? Is it being tended to? By folks internally and externally? And is it making observers stop and take a look?