Strategic INsights: Branding part 1

Recently I wrote a 3-part series on marketing strategy aimed at giving in-house designers insight into how their marketing colleagues come up with those programs we’re asked to design for. For the last few decades branding has also played an important part in the corporate landscape, with designers paying a vital role.

Because marketing and branding are so interrelated and dependent on each other strategically, branding is typically run in-house from within the marketing or corporate communications organization. And just as we are asked to assist in the creation of marketing promotional initiatives, in-house designers are also asked to help in the creation of “branding” initiatives.

So along the same lines of providing insight for designers into marketing, which I feel will ostensibly help designers design things more aligned with strategic priorities, I now offer similar insights into the strategies of branding.

In marketing terms, a brand is the symbolic embodiment of all the information connected with a product or service. Visually, a brand typically includes a name, logo, and other images or symbols. Brand also encompasses the set of expectations associated with a product or service, which typically arise in the minds of people, such as employees of the company, anyone involved with sales and distribution of the product or service, and of course customers.

Origins of the customer-centric organization

Since the 1940’s companies have used marketing tactics to ensure, and measure, success by maintaining satisfied customers (as opposed to equating success solely through sales numbers).  Prior to the 1940’s companies already realized however, thanks to Madison Avenue ad-men, that tying the look and feel of product packaging (containers, labels, etc.) and promotions (print advertising, billboards, delivery trucks, etc.) was a powerful way to cement a product name in the minds and hearts of consumers. This, they hoped, would foster repeat business through name and identity recognition.

However, it wasn’t until the 1950’s and 60’s that the admen, marketing gurus, and branding experts started working in concert to create more robust customer experiences. Customer experience is delivered through the interactions that customers have with a company and brand every day. These encounters, or “touchpoints,” should reinforce a brand’s positioning and deliver the desired brand experience with consistency.


To motivate and inspire commitment to your purpose, your brand must communicate your organization’s promise of value. And that’s what we’ll dive into a bit more next week, because while your company does this and you should understand how it works…so can you to promote your in-house business.

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