The competitive pressures in business, particularly during an economic downturn, have turned increased attention to branding strategies as a means of gaining a discernable advantage. Successful business-to-business marketers and consumer marketers have both recognized branding as a strategic business tool.
Branding is much more than coming up with an attractive logo or catchy phrase. Though there is no standard definition of “brand” or “branding” within the general public, or even within the industry, it’s still a major marketing force.
Companies change—sometimes in big ways. And if you’re not innovating and changing you’re falling behind. UCN started out as Buyers United, a reseller of long-distance services, which became United Carrier Networks, which became UCN. That’s when we met them. We were engaged to help with yet another change. The company had become something quite different. Long-distance telephone services today are just another commodity. UCN, recognizing the need to innovate, has developed a new product approach that delivers software for call centers over the Internet. The application delivery model, known as “Software as a Service”, provides significant scalability and deployment options compared to typical on-site call center software/hardware.
We used our Perception Branding 5d Process to determine the brand strategy and then used the strategy to inform the execution of a new identity and name change.
We interviewed everybody from the President to the Chief Technology Officer, as well as independent industry analysts and clients. We audited existing marketing materials and their competition’s materials as well. Their company name had no significance to the target audience and suffered from low memorability, as do all companies who use initials. The look and feel appeared sports related.
Together with ideas from the marketing department, new taglines were proposed. An image and adjective brainstorm sought visual and verbal ways to describe the brand. With the research completed, we sifted, sorted and segmented the information to determine the Brand Promise, the target’s “take away” after engaging with the brand.
The Brand Concept Board is a visual depiction of the brand. Together with the Brand Brief, a summation of findings and recommendations, they serve as a litmus test against which design deliverables are measured.
We presented five different conceptual directions for the new company logo and name. The preferred logo direction is based on the idea that real humans man call centers; speaking and communicating, the essence of what customer service is about. The new company name, inContact, reflects the name of the company’s product platform, already familiar to their customers. We’re now working on D5-Deploy, making the new identity and strategy a reality in all the customer touchpoints.
The logo we created was based on the idea that real humans man call centers; speaking and communicating, the essence of what customer service is about. The new company name, inContact, reflects the name of the company’s product platform, already familiar to their customers. We designed stationery material as well as a pocket folder, and developed both printed and online Identity Standards.
If you need help with Microsoft Office, Corel WordPerfect, Novell Groupwise, or other common applications, what do you do? Call our client BrainStorm. The 14 year-old company reaches out internationally from its Utah county home, with software training products and services designed for the end-user.
Using our proprietary Perception Branding 5d process, we built a foundation of understanding that shifted the BrainStorm brand experience.
When we examined the company culture, it became clear that there was a disconnect between why they were successful vs. the image that they projected. In interviews we learned about the company’s fun atmosphere, witnessing effective “people-based” training using humor. We also learned about the extraordinary commitment to keeping the customer satisfied. None of that came across in their previous dreary identity and Web site. We proposed a new identity based around a very non-stuffy logo and a strong yellow-gold color, which is psychologically associated with pleasant feelings.
In Weber County, the 50-year old Ogden Clinic is a proud association with 60 different medical providers in six facilities located throughout the area. The clinic is owned by the very physicians that provide the care, who also live and work where they serve. That notion distinguishes Ogden Clinic, and deservedly needs to be reflected in their brand.
We used our Perception Branding 5d process to determine the brand strategy which informed the execution of a new identity, ads and new Web site.
Although a respected and recognized institution in the Weber area, Ogden Clinic felt that they were often confused with a larger, and more widely known competitor, Intermountain Healthcare. It was felt that something needed to be done to strongly differentiate themselves from Intermountain. Much of the problem was that no strong, central message had ever emerged to set them apart. In addition, the identity was dated and desperately needed a refresh.
Along with competitive research and interviews with staff, we commissioned Dan Jones & Associates to conduct a survey of Weber County residents, to help us get a feel of the pulse of the community with respect to Ogden Clinic. Regarding the perceived confusion with Intermountain Healthcare—we discovered it was not an issue. We also learned Ogden Clinic is a household name in Weber County, with 100% of those polled having heard of Ogden Clinic, and 32% being very familiar.
Although Ogden Clinic is embedded in the community, the Clinic did very little to make the public aware of its involvement and support, and to cultivate its image of a locally owned institution, invested in its community.
The Brand Concept Board is a visual depiction of the brand. Together with the Brand Brief, which is a summary of findings and recommendations, they serve as a litmus test against which design deliverables are measured.
Ogden Clinic’s brand personality is Approachable, Caring, Compassionate, Passionate, and Personal. They are invested in the community, and are conscientious neighbors.
Imagery should be friendly, and have a feeling of life and vitality. People should be prominent, and we felt it was important to use images of real Weber County residents, rather than models or stock photography. Use of images of involvement in community events are encouraged.
We developed several design solutions for the identity, each focusing on some aspect of our research conclusions. In the end, the Clinic overwhelmingly supported the identity shown here. The symbol represents an “O”, helping viewers associate the mark with Ogden Clinic. The identity system was built around the symbol, using overlapping, flowing green shapes to exude a feeling of life and vitality viewers could associate with the Ogden Clinic brand.
We found in our research with community members, that while 100% of those polled were familiar with Ogden Clinic, the majority could not recall the logo. Existing Clinic signage failed to brand the facilities and only identified the neighborhood in which it resided. We designed the symbol to make it clearly legible, even on signage.
The Ogden Clinic Web site is an important piece of the Ogden Clinic brand experience. Visually, the Web site carries the identity throughout. The home page is not only utilitarian–offering various helpful services to visitors–but also strongly communicates the Ogden Clinic brand message by highlighting their involvement in the community, and displaying health and clinic news items. The site creates a resource for the community by incorporating large, easily searchable libraries of health-related content. The site was built dynamically to allow cross-linking, i.e. if a viewer is researching a topic like tendonitis then Ogden Clinic orthopedic providers would be referenced along side the articles. The site also creates a personalized area for patients to login, make appointments, contact providers, and check medical history.
Guru Labs Training is the premier educational provider of distribution-independent Linux instruction — teaching the open source operating system to students and corporations from coast to coast. Guru wanted to roll out a comprehensive partner program to spread their unique educational systems and courseware to a wider audience. Working through our Perception Branding Process, Guru Labs clarified their position and incorporated it into the brand identity both visually and verbally.
While there was some equity in the “Guru wave” symbol, Guru Labs’ old logo had small type which was difficult to read. Also, neither their logo nor their name said anything about what they do.
The addition of the Partner Program was a large factor in the need for a re-brand. Our challenge was to develop one cohesive brand, while visually differentiating Guru Labs’ own training services from their Partner Program.
When Guru Labs first approached us for our services, we thought they were some kind of technology testing facility. That was in fact part of the problem. It became evident that we would need to clarify their role as a provider of educational services through their logo and new tagline.
Simultaneously, we would need to visually separate Guru Labs’ own training services from their Partner Program services.
Guru Labs’ brand personality is creative, independent, passionate, savvy, and educational. They offer sage wisdom stemming from years as industry leaders.
They empower their students to master the complex world of Linux. Visuals should strongly convey their spirited personality, with a touch of their sense of humor.
While keeping the original “Guru wave” symbol, we type-set the name much larger to make it more visible, while adding the word “Training” to clarify their offered services. Once the logo design was established, we developed the separate divisions of Guru Labs, by adding modifiers to the Guru Labs Training logo. Clearly different, yet coherent color themes were implemented to further separate the Partner Program from Guru Labs’ own Training services.
Following the standards established, we designed stationery, business cards, a corporate pocket folder, and various multi-use template sheets, among other materials.
Some of the materials used by Guru Labs’ Certified Partners allow the partners to insert their own logo and text. Partners can then use the material to promote their own services, without Guru Labs losing their own brand presence.
School Improvement Network
School Improvement Network was founded by two teachers, and offers comprehensive professional development solutions for administrators and teachers in K-12 schools. School Improvement Network wanted us to help them unify their increasingly disparate brand. With the recent launch and initial success of a flagship product which bundled the other products together into one on-demand platform, this seemed like the optimal time to re-tool the brand. While the old brand felt dated and somewhat provincial, the new brand was to reflect the technological advances made in recent years, and bring the brand up-to-date.
Despite School Improvement Network’s powerful story and the superiority of the products, marketing and branding was not as “on-message” as it could have been. In fact, so many messages competed for attention that any single message was lost and diluted in the mix.
The identity was dated, and did not communicate the advanced nature of the flagship product, PD 360.
Because of immense pressure to increase student achievement, certain topics are extremely relevant and important to districts. By being “out in the trenches,” School Improvement Network is clued into these “hot” topics and covers them extensively. Additionally, the expert consultants featured in their programs are so widely respected that often, district representatives would become interested in the product after only hearing mention of their name. These vital messages were not communicated adequately in marketing material.
Additionally, the company was founded by two teachers who sought to teach better. The inspiring story of the company could be a powerful way of gaining the trust of educators, yet it was all but non-existent in any marketing materials.
In cooperation with School Improvement Network’s upper management team, we developed a Brand Concept Board which conveys the overall feeling of the brand through words, imagery, and color. This board acts as a “litmus test” against which all outgoing branded materials can be compared, to assure they are on-target.
School Improvement Network’s brand personality is dedicated, friendly, passionate, progressive, yet smart and sensible. They are experts and are empowering, innovative, and responsive. They are visionary, yet practical. Visuals should recognize these attributes and should feel positive and warm, while featuring the end-beneficiary of all they do: kids.
We showed several identity proposals to School Improvement Network, two of which used a shortened version the name, based on what the company is often referred to internally as well as by some clients. Both of these options also dropped the apple symbol. The third utilizes a revised, updated apple symbol, and was the logo they eventually chose.