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  • Oscar Park

'Wait, what are we talking about?' The importance of definitions in your brand identity


Three dimensional blue arrow and swirl coming off it and yellow bacground

 

We were recently working with a client on a branding project and by the third draft of the values statement we were still struggling to reach a consensus. Why could no one agree on the underlying sentiment and why was everyone scratching their head over semantics? Then the penny dropped. Was everyone in agreement about what ‘values’ are? Yes, there are definitions in dictionaries, but was everyone in agreement about what values meant for this organisation? It reminded us once again of the fundamental importance of definitions in the world of branding - something that’s often very much lacking. As Creative Director at Osch, I've learned recently that setting clear definitions at the beginning of each project is not just a formality, but a crucial step in ensuring everyone is on the same page – a page that lays the foundation for a brand's identity and success.


In the dynamic realm of branding, values serve as its bedrock that shape a brand's personality, influence its decisions, and resonate with its audience. However, without shared understanding of what these values mean, a brand can easily find itself adrift in a sea of confusion.


At the initiation of any project, whether it's rebranding or the birth of a new brand, it's paramount to invest time in defining and crafting the values that will steer the ship. This involves a collaborative effort between the design team, the client and any other stakeholders involved.


Defining values might seem like a straightforward task but, as always, the devil is in the detail. Take the term 'principles', for example; it's a word that's thrown around in countless brand workshops, but its interpretation can vary widely. For some, it may be a set of rules that you aspire to achieve, for others it's something that's interchangeable with values. Without a clear, standard, industry-wide definition (more on that in a later blog), the strategy team might be envisioning one ideal, while the client is thinking about something altogether different. Misalignments like these can create friction and confusion throughout both client and strategy teams, leading to a disjointed brand identity that fails to resonate with the intended audience.


I've witnessed firsthand how investing time in the definition phase pays dividends throughout the entire creative process. It's not just about choosing words that sound good on paper; it's about distilling the essence of what the brand stands for into a concise and meaningful set of values. This clarity becomes the North Star, guiding every design decision, colour palette and communications strategy.


Moreover, clearly defined values act as a powerful tool for internal alignment. In a world where brands are built by teams working across different time zones and from diverse cultural backgrounds, a shared understanding of values becomes the glue that holds everyone together. It ensures that every member of the team is marching to the same beat, contributing to a cohesive brand narrative that transcends individual interpretations.


In the end, a brand is not just a logo or a tagline; it's a living, breathing entity shaped by the values it upholds. Starting a project with a robust set of definitions ensures that everyone involved, from the client to the designers, speaks the same language. It's not merely a checkbox on the project timeline; it's the cornerstone of a successful brand that stands the test of time. So, the next time you embark on a branding journey, remember: define your values.


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