Brand approach: the way powerful brands are created

We’ve lost track of the amount of times we’ve been approached by companies wanting us to create ‘a logo’, and on further discussion have discovered that what they think they’ll get is ‘a brand’. And of course it often happens the other way around.

A logo is a graphic depiction – shorthand if you will – for the brand that stands behind it. A brand can’t be created just because a business signs off a great logo design: A real brand, even a new one, has substance. 

This substance is found in the integrity and authenticity of what a brand is doing or selling; the reason for its very existence, it’s purpose. 

We frequently work with corporate organisations, helping them to not only improve their visual identity, but first and foremost, to create a clear brand definition: Purpose, Proposition, Positioning and Personality. 

“Organisations that have a clear and thorough understanding of why they exist, what they offer and who they are, are going to be the ones that succeed,” says Adam Arnold, Founder of Brandality. 

“Far too many approach branding from the wrong direction, trying to influence the perception of their brand, internally and externally, using aesthetics alone. Firstly the look of the identity needs to be influenced by something – that something should always be a strong brand definition.”

We recently rebranded established workwear fashion company Simon Jersey. Far from simply redesigning the company’s brand identity, we worked closely with the Simon Jersey team to really understand its challenges and aspirations. These insights then formed the foundations on which the brand definition document was created. This new brand definition is aligned with commercial ambitions and Simon Jersey is now using it to instil a clear culture and direction within the organisation – this could not have been achieved from a simple logo redesign. 

And let’s also take a closer look at McKinsey & Company, the management consultancy that last year unveiled its new branding. Along with a newly designed logo – or ‘script mark’, as it calls it (you’ll have to look very closely because the changes are, intentionally, rather subtle), it has unveiled a new corporate colour palette that runs through everything, from its website to data presentations. Not quite monochrome, simple, striking and ‘clean’, the colour palette is also reflected in the photography style McKinsey has chosen to use.

To sum up McKinsey’s brand approach, it uses the term ‘high contrast’, which it says is designed to communicate the balance between the heritage of the McKinsey name and the modernity of the new world order it now operates in, plus of course, its approach to clients and employees. 

We have to say, we love it. It’s strong, yet subtle. To the naked eye it all looks very simple, and yet on closer examination, it’s easy to see the sheer amount of detail layered into every iteration of the brand identity.

So to summarise, logos aren’t brands and great brands are built upon the defined four Ps, purpose, proposition, positioning and personality. You can also rebrand without changing your logo!