Is brand architecture a myth or magic?

For those of us who scribble down good ideas on the back of an envelope, brand architecture must seem like a foreign language. In this post our guest author, David Kightley, examines the science behind what makes a long-established brand. On the face of it, the perceived complexity of brand architecture justifies why national and international branding agencies charge an absolute fortune for creating iconic brands in the first instance and then again for what looks like a minor tweak!

What is brand architecture anyway?

In a nutshell, effective brand architecture is the organizational structure of a business’ portfolio of brands, sub-brands, products and services including an integrated system of names, symbols, colours, and a visual vocabulary immediately associated by the consumers’ thought processes. It’s a road map for brand identity, design and development and flexibility for cost-effective product or service expansion in the future. Add in, of course, the usual ingredients of each individual brand’s voice, identity, promise, values, targeting and positioning to complete the brand hierarchy process. That’s some definition!

The FedEx suite of sub-brands and products is a great example of brand architecture.

In the beginning though it’s back to basics

Much to the author’s relief, some of the most famous logos have been penned on the back of an envelope. For example, the ‘I Love NY’ logo was designed by graphic designer Milton Glaser in 1976 in the back of a taxi and was drawn with red crayon on a piece of scrap paper. Lindon Leader, the creator of the revered FedEx logo in 1994, once said “I strive for two things in design, simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of these two things”. His award-winning creation for FedEx is still as strong almost thirty years on! One of DSD’s own brand creations, often showcased in our back portfolio, started life on an A6 notelet including a makeshift crayoned colour palette!

How the creativity gets under way at DSD

As you might expect in the DSD studio, things have moved on quite a bit from the envelope days and we use our favourite tools to sketch out your ideas and for us the Rotring Tikky precision pencil with a standard HB 0.5mm lead is a great all-rounder. Once we have a couple of concepts which feel could work for a proposal we then switch to the German-made Molotow Blackliner marker series for a more precise line in a variety of tips from 0.1 to 0.4mm. The pigmented archival ink provides great contrast when scanning the sketches for digital transfer and the serious fun of bringing the ideas to life!

Our quality 150mm Neilsen stainless steel rule create guides and grids and an example of this is the recently released ‘DSD 5 Trees’ logo that has strong links to the DSD hexaform in the way it’s constructed, from the overall hexagonal shape, to the base of the centre tree trunk following the curve found in the main logo. The devil really is in the detail even at this early stage!

DSD customer service extends well beyond the final artwork  

Clearly, brand architecture from a design perspective has plenty of substance behind the science and is certainly not a myth; more a case of the building blocks on which to ensure the brand consistency and longevity. The real magic, though, is in finding an Essex-based graphic designer with the ability to visualise clients’ ideas, incorporate any existing brand- hierarchy obligations and turn them swiftly into images and brands ready for application to your real-world client-facing assets. On completion of your brief, DSD provides a brand guidelines document for ease of execution and consistency in producing and policing the applications of your new brand. It’s our modest contribution to the brand’s evolution or should we now say architecture!

Make a note to get in touch soon

So, if you want a desirable and effective brand that  stands out from the crowd without having to bother about the science behind its creation, why not take the easy option and give DSD’s founder Dan a call right now on 01245 890238. Sometimes, the only thing you need to scribble on the back of your envelope is Dan’s phone number!

Check out whether your brand is ready for the digital age here and for social media here.

David Kightley

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