Opinion: Does the new approach to brand governance impact on the practical implementation?
Landor has recently redefined brand governance, arguing that brand community is now more relevant. Peter Leonard considers if this also applies to the implementation of the branding
Companies today recognise the importance of creating an engaging brand experience not just for customer environments, but also for suppliers, shareholders, sales channels and both current and prospective employees. But of course, there has to be some sort of control over the brand.
This is traditionally the role of the brand governance team, guiding and monitoring the application of rigid guidelines. Landor argues that brand governance is outdated and ‘brand community’ is now much more relevant. Instead, multiple communities of experts (the brand team), practitioners (brand ambassadors) and all employees are key.
If brand governance is about the ‘what,’ brand community is more about the ‘why.’ The workplace – whether it’s an office, hotel, education establishment, retail outlet or hospital, is the perfect starting point to capture the essence of the brand and tell the brand story.
Drawing on our workplace branding experience with clients such as HSBC, Amazon and FedEx, we can only agree that it is the agile brands, those that adopt a flexible approach, that are the most successful.
However, when it comes to the practical side of workplace branding – specifying and installing the chosen brand solutions, we feel that practical guideline documentation is still important and careful judgement as to how they are interpreted is essential.
If you are embarking on a workplace branding programme, whether it’s a refurbishment, a change in location or a change in use of space, these guidelines will help you to balance all the considerations (form, function, planning, appearance, style and psychological impact) with costs to get the best value results.
First, decide which built assets can remain and be reused, instead of removing and replacing with new. Consider whether assets can be transformed with a film wrap or clad onsite to extend their life. This also helps to meet sustainability goals.
Then, look at the balance of your design scheme between photographic images, word messaging, simulating natural material effects, solid colours and gloss levels, glazing patterns, floor designs etc.
Consider only specifying and using materials that can be sourced quickly and easily in volumes needed, that are fast to apply, and can be removed if needed (e.g. from leased buildings) while also being durable and abrasion and fade resistant. Make sure materials are available internationally if your business is trans-national and that the material will be around in the future in case of future need and maintenance.
Next, agree with your implementation partner to use materials that will minimize the need for risk, health and safety assessment and time and cost investment on site. Use solid materials rather than liquids. They are easier to transport, handle, prepare and use. Reducing on site disruption and paying for day work rather than night, limits costs and is practical if films with pressure-sensitive adhesive systems are used, negating noisy carpentry, joinery and construction work.
Opt for materials that offer degrees of sustainability and savings benefits – whether in lighting and heating energy consumption, labour costs and site and staff downtime. Materials should be accompanied by the manufacturer’s warranty and guarantee paperwork to give peace of mind that your budget is protected in the event of any poor performance.
Finally, insist on quality proven technical installers and use a known international installer network, where quality and cost can be managed effectively. Plan early and engage with supplier experts early, anticipating time-consuming obstacles such as planning permits, site access, specialist installation equipment and language. Always pilot or prototype your design concept in reality to check and measure time, cost and impact on customers and staff as well as aesthetics and functional use. Support installer teams by anticipating extra information that may be needed at site level if unexpected repairs or making good is required.
With more and more employees working from home, the workplace is increasingly a destination. The effectiveness of brand community is evident in our workplace branding programme for HSBC – a global exercise but not a single logo in sight. Every workplace location worked within clearly documented parameters but was offered flexibility in choices to create localised variation. The result was a cohesive but diverse brand experience, but delivered using clear material and implementation guidelines to ensure quality and cost-effectiveness.
In an increasingly global world, let’s hope we continue to see individuality retained and encouraged within branding programs, yet delivered with precision.
Peter Leonard is business development director at Global Image Management (GLIMMA)