Corporate brand shouldn’t just be painted on top

In Searching for an identity (DW 14 January) it was pointed out that many global corporations face challenges in terms of their branding and also in the rigidity of their current organisational structures.

While the branding industry must address these issues, to imagine that designers can fulfil this place, as the article concluded, is missing the point.

The advertisers have to admit they have an important, but limited, role in the whole branding exercise. Designers (in the traditional sense) certainly do have a wider role and can take the brand into further arenas, but the ‘brand’ can no longer be defined as something that is ‘designed’ as such. The brand should permeate the entire corporate entity and its every expression – just as blood permeates every bit of flesh in our bodies. The brand should be ‘distilled’ and expressed – not simply ‘painted’ on top of the product.

Corporate brand management is needed to address the real issues and guide towards a workable solution. As a discipline it needs to cover everything, from good old ‘identity programmes’ and the branding of goods, to the criteria used for staff recruitment and the manner in which phones are answered. All these are branding issues. The days are fast diminishing when a schizophrenic mode of operation will last amid increasingly severe competition.

These matters, however, can no longer be left in the hands of each ‘department responsible’. This is, of course, a major threat to those who couldn’t stand to share ideas and responsibilities with other people or departments within their company. A new holistic paradigm is required to bring in the organic/ fluid structures that will be needed.

Corporate brand management must be handled by those able to help a company define its corporate brand essence for what it really is, and help shape the expression of that brand at every point where it interfaces with their audiences. Brand integrity is not a pipedream – it’s fast becoming a required reality to survive.

Though I believe many who have grown up through the design industry may become key players in this holistic corporate image/ brand management field, design alone is simply not going to make it!

Pad Bray

Communications director


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