Thanks for visiting Collaborative’s blog. You’ll quickly see that we curate our content to provide to you information and tools that can elevate your work.
To start, Rhyla, Jeff, Devin and Ian, four professional communicators on our team with different skills–along with guest bloggers, will guide you through our perspective on the communications world.
Collaborative’s blog will provide tips and tricks for using digital content, branding, media outreach and communications strategies, along with insight into news in the education field. All writing is intended to share what we know in ways that can help your team succeed.
When it comes to supporting the work of education nonprofits, the team at Collaborative knows their stuff, as we focus solely on education and learning. Please reach out to our team if you need a sounding board or suggestions for improving your work.
Many thanks, and we look forward to engaging with you.
Update (11/8/2016): DQC’s website has won a 2016 W3 Award in the education category of websites. The W3 Awards honor creative excellence on the web, and are judged by the Academy of Interactive Visual Arts.
This spring Collaborative Communications was delighted to partner with Data Quality Campaign and our friends at Social Driver to lead the redesign of Data Quality Campaign’s website. We set out to make the organization’s mission and vision clearer for all audiences by drawing attention to the human side of education data, and to emphasize the campaign aspect of DQC’s work through pathways on the site that drive users to take action around the effective use of education data. Together we developed a friendly, vibrant new site design that is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and easily maintained by DQC’s staff. Make sure you visit the website’s new resource library, which now offers a curated set of resources that are easily searchable by topic, type and audience.
DQC does incredible work on behalf of students, parents, educators and policymakers, and we’re proud to support them in their efforts to make data work for all students. If you’re interested in partnering with us on a website redesign project, please email Katherine Hunt at email@example.com.
Students are at the center of the education system. It’s important to us at the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) that they’re at the center of our advocacy too.
We’re committed to the idea that everyone involved in a student’s education journey should have the information they need to support that student. A big component of that access to information is ensuring information is easily found, in an understandable format, and tailored to the unique needs of parents, educators, community members, and policymakers. While we demand that this become a reality for education systems throughout the country, we also know it must be a reality in our own work. In the spirit of practicing what we preach, we’ve redesigned how we present our own resources.
On April 26, with the help of Collaborative Communications and Social Driver, we launched a redesigned website, with a brighter look and feel to our resources. Our primary goal is to make the information we present about the policies, best practices, and current use of education data available and understandable to people at all levels of familiarity. We’re putting people at the center of our advocacy, so no matter where they live, people in every state can use our tools to advocate for students in their community.
So what’s different?
We’ve centered the new site around our big idea: when students, parents, educators, and policymakers have the right information to make decisions, students excel.
We’ve made it easier than ever to learn the basics of student data. Head over to Why Education Data? to learn the what, who, and how of education data use.
We’ve reorganized our resource library so that all types of advocates, from parents to policymakers, can find the information they need to make education data work for their students.
Our new vision permeates the entirety of our work. In addition to making information on our website more accessible and understandable to a variety of audiences, our team is changing the way we create our resources as well. We’re including more stories of what great data use looks like on the ground level, so that everyone can see the impact of this important tool on outcomes for students.
With the help of our web development partners and the commitment of the entire DQC team, we’ve been able to practice what we preach and do our best to ensure that all people dedicated to improving education have access to the right information when they need it so that they can best support their students.
One of the most critical aspects of becoming known in your field and having an impact in the education space is branding. Understanding what branding is and why it’s important will give you an edge over other organizations and competitors. But, before we dive into the importance of branding, let’s first recap the highlights from my previous post.
Branding is made up of three parts: a logo, identity elements and the brand itself. Many people tend to think a logo and a brand are the same thing, however, they are not. A logo is a graphic representation of an organization. The logo and brand are linked together by a family of identity (visual) elements, such as business cards, collateral, website, etc. The brand itself refers to how your organization is perceived. Your brand is about the emotional connection your stakeholders have with the work that you do. Developing a plan to execute the three elements of branding is called a brand strategy. Over time, executing this strategic plan results in brand equity—which is imperative for your organization’s success.
Brand equity refers to widespread recognition and loyalty, which is earned through consistent messaging and your organization’s ability to deliver on your mission and achieve impact. Brand equity can be achieved through consumer-based branding and service-based branding. Ultimately, target audiences are what differentiates the two. Each aspect of branding is vital to the success of an organization or company, and each element requires extensive thought and planning—resulting in a comprehensive brand strategy.
Consumer-based branding refers to the branding of products. For example, a toy company called GoldieBlox, which is less than 5 years old, has managed to disrupt their industry, inspire the next generation of female engineers and seize the attention of people across the country with their brand message—encourage women to build structures and write code from an early age to level the playing field in a male-dominated industry. GoldieBlox believes that girls can wear pink skirts and a tool belt at the same time. This compound message flows through every facet of the company, including their products and branding. Due to GoldieBlox’s uniform messaging and aligned visuals, the company has gained brand equity and customer loyalty, both of which help drive their business forward.
Service-based branding follows the same rules as consumer-based branding: construct a logo, create identity elements and a build a brand. A recent example of branding a service-based organization can be found in the newly launched Education Forward DC. Collaborative Communications partnered to develop the new brand and identity package, which included the logo, website and print collateral. As the branding gains momentum, so will brand equity. People will begin to recognize the logo and soon after that, the organization’s message will start to permeate the field.
When creating a new brand, the tasks can be overwhelming and it’s difficult to know where to begin. Typically, the process starts off with a great deal of research and in-depth conversations with the client, which lays the foundation for both the content and visual direction. It’s at this point, when the core message is determined—the message should be short and concise. In the case of Education Forward DC, the core message was “closing the gaps to move forward.” Those thoughtful and precise words paved the way for the messaging and the visual implementation. Let’s take a look at how those words influenced the concept of the logo.
The logo includes words and a symbol which is called a combination mark. The words show movement with the forward leaning “WA,” emphasizing their desire to move the DC education community forward. The message is reinforced with an arrow (symbol) to the right of the words. The small dark blue triangle in the middle of the symbol represents “closing the gaps” which is the cornerstone of their messaging. Both of these visual elements come together to create their logo, which is the foundation for the identity package. Aligning the visuals and content to create a strong brand strategy is essential for creating brand equity.
To better understand these top notch strategies and the weight they carry, we have to understand the “why” first. Why is branding important? Here are the reasons why companies and organizations utilize branding.
Branding is a key differentiator. When done well, a brand mirrors an organization’s strategic plan.
Strong branding will carry an organization through the ebb and flow of unavoidable challenges in the education space.
Creating a memorable and impactful brand is important. If someone has an exceptional experience with an organization, chances are that they will tell others about that experience.
A brand is the origin of a promise to an organization’s key stakeholders. A consistent brand creates brand equity and credibility.
Provides Direction for Staff
Communicating the goals of the brand strategy to organizational staff will provide them with clarity and help ensure their success and the success of the work.
The value of most businesses come from intangible assets. An organization’s brand is its most powerful intangible asset.
Branding transcends the art of the logo and graphic elements. When you think about branding, everything from the identity package to the impact you have on your stakeholders makes up the brand—a promise to your constituents. This promise tells your audiences about the character of your organization, what you believe and the value you are going to provide. How does your brand impact how others perceive the work that you do?
Now that we understand the importance of branding, in my next blog we’ll address the significance of brand protection from both an internal and external perspective. First, we’ll focus on the internal protection, diving into brand guidelines and how to implement them for your organization. Then we’ll address the importance of protecting brands externally. Stay tuned!
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Facebook are the top five most valuable brands in the world for 2016 according to Forbes. What’s their secret to success? In my opinion, top notch branding strategies!
At Collaborative we dedicate our work to supporting education and learning by helping a wide variety of education nonprofits with their communications needs. Click to learn more about Collaborative and our services.
Joe Walsh named Senior Vice President for Innovation at the education-focused strategic communications firm
Washington, D.C. – Collaborative Communications, the nation’s premier communications firm focused solely on education and learning, announced today that Joseph Walsh, who most recently served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education for State and Local Engagement in the Office of Communication and Outreach, has joined the firm as Senior Vice President for Innovation.
“Joe’s wealth of experience and industry knowledge has already made him a key addition to the Collaborative team and network,” said Kris Kurtenbach, founding partner. “We view his appointment as a sign of our commitment to being the leading communications firm in the education space. Our dedication to finding innovative solutions to education and workforce issues, coupled with an increasing demand from our clients and network to understand how to best navigate the evolving policy landscape of ESSA, led us to look for an addition to our team who will fit in with our ethos of innovation and exceptional service. And we are fortunate to find someone of Joe’s caliber to fulfill this role. I’m confident that Joe will play a key role in providing and implementing high-quality communications and strategy solutions for our clients.”
Walsh is a communications and political strategist and adviser with senior leadership experience at the national, state and local levels. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education, Walsh was an adviser to Secretary Arne Duncan on political and strategic communications issues, helped develop the Department’s communication strategy and led their engagement efforts with governors, mayors, legislators, chief state school officers and with the advocacy community.
“Collaborative has worked for more than 15 years with leaders in the education community to improve outcomes for all students,” said Walsh. “I’m excited to join the great team at Collaborative, and look forward to what’s next as a firm and in our work in education and learning.”
Walsh has worked at the intersection of policy, politics and communications throughout his career, in senior leadership roles in government and as a consultant leading political campaigns and issue advocacy efforts. Before joining the Obama Administration, he was Deputy Director, U.S. Policy and Advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leading teams working to help build the public and political will to support the Foundation’s efforts to improve educational outcomes in the United States. He served as a member of Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty’s cabinet as Director of the Department of Employment Services, and in Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration as Director of Policy and Planning at the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Under President Bill Clinton, Walsh was education director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. He began his career in civic education teaching government, history and civic engagement to high school students at the Close Up Foundation.
About Collaborative Collaborative Communications Group, Inc. is the nation’s premier communications firm focused solely on education and learning.We are dedicated to improving learning systems, in and out of school, for students and adults, through better communications, collaboration and engagement.
At Collaborative we are committed to excellence. This is evidenced by our clients, who we are honored to work with, and the incredible work our clients produce. And while we believe good work speaks for itself, there is also something to be said for outside recognition of such work.
For the past three years Collaborative has participated in The Communicator Awards to highlight the work our clients do and to pay tribute to our shared commitment to excellence. Each year we’ve entered, our clients’ work has been honored..
We are thrilled to announced that for the 22nd Annual Communicator Awards, six of our clients received an award, and we hope you will join us in congratulating them and celebrating this tremendous achievement.
Penguin Young Readers Group and Baltimore’s Summer Reading Program
Every Hero Has a Story: Read to Unlock Them! Winner, Award of Excellence for Print & Design
This poster represents a collaboration between Penguin Young Readers Group and the Baltimore Grade Level Reading Campaign that got young people excited about reading and writing across Baltimore. As part of our work promoting Brad Meltzer’sReal Heroes children’s book series, we reached out to the Baltimore Grade Level Reading Campaign to see if we could help their mission of engaging youth in reading over the summer. A few weeks later, we developed this poster promoting Baltimore’s summer reading campaign, Every Hero Has a Story, which encouraged children to write their own hero stories. Christopher Eliopoulos designed the poster and designed book covers for the five winning stories. When you work with people that are passionate about youth, amazing things happen.
The North America Competitiveness Scorecard Winner, Award of Distinction for Interactive Media
The George W. Bush Institute created The North America Competitiveness Scorecard as a tool to compare the competitive position of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as a region, relative to other major economic regions and countries with large economies. The Scorecard provides the opportunity to see at a glance how well North America—country by country and altogether—is performing in the global economy. The Scorecard enables users to compare any countries they wish, look at economic data over time, and examine the economic performance of entire regions.
The QED Group, LLC.
Our Children, Our Future: Ensuring Child Well-Being in Uganda Winner, Award of Distinction for Print & Design
Developed in support of the National Forum on the State of the Ugandan Child, held in Kampala in October 2015, Our Children, Our Future: Ensuring Child Well-Being in Uganda is a major report and call to action that lays out the National Action Plan for Child Well-Being, as well as the numerous challenges facing children in Uganda. The report also articulates strong goals for addressing those challenges to improving outcomes for children in the country.
College Success Arizona
Doubling Arizona’s Economic Growth: The Potential Fiscal and Social Gains From Increasing Postsecondary Attainment Winner, Award of Distinction for Print & Design
College Success Arizona released this report in January 2016. The report shows that raising the post-secondary attainment rate has the potential to double Arizona’s economic growth, equating to $660,000 per additional college graduate. The report was the second in their series of publications that highlight the economic and social importance of increasing the number of students that enroll and stay in post-secondary education, and graduate with a degree or certificate.
Winner, Award of Distinction for Content & Marketing
For the 2015 National AfterSchool Association Convention, we chose a theme of Passionate Professionals, Powerful Stories to help our audience of 1,500 afterschool professionals tell their stories. As part of this, we designed a template for users to print, customize and share their story with the hashtag #MyAfterschoolStroy. By asking them to share their stories, they had to think about themselves: why they do what they do, what drew them to afterschool, what afterschool programs did they do as a kid and why it all matters. Hundreds responded with their stories, ranging from personal growth after tragedy to their goals for the future of afterschool. By digging a little deeper and having these dedicated educators think about themselves, we connected them to a larger community of like-minded peers, highlighted what they have in common in their personal histories and beliefs, helped them to refine their stories and encouraged them to keep telling their stories.
We are honored to participate in The Communicator Awards, and we extend our congratulations to our partners and collaborators who have helped make our work and their work shine.
Here, at Collaborative, we live on a steady diet of education news, research, opinion and conversation. Whether it be a tweet, a commentary or a policy paper, if it’s about teaching and learning, in or out of school, we are reading, watching and listening.
In my new blog series #TalkAbtEd I’ll highlight some of the trends, stories and reports that folks at Collaborative are thinking and talking about. From the inspirational (see, for example, NPR’s wonderful “50 Great Teachers” series) to the nitty-gritty of education data (NCES’sDigest of Education Statistics, anyone?), this series will run the gamut to discuss what’s new and important in the education conversation.
Earlier this school year, the Department of Education shared the wonderful news that high school graduation rates in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 82 percent. Such progress is, in part, a testament to the great work on the parts of teachers, school leaders, policymakers, and students themselves, to improve academic outcomes in our schools and communities. Yet, though improved graduation rates are certainly cause for celebration, the latest NAEP data offer a sobering reminder that the 82 percent graduation rate does not represent an unalloyed success.
NAEP, which is given to high school seniors and tests what they know and can do in the areas of math and reading, is among the most useful national measures of student achievement that we have. The latest results show that in 2015, math scores dropped one percentage point and reading scores remained the same since 2013, when the test was last administered. These numbers, in and of themselves, are not all that newsworthy. But when you consider the NAEP results in the context of student college and career readiness, the implications are much more striking.
In fact, what the latest NAEP results show is that over 60 percent of high school seniors are not prepared for college or career success,unchanged since 2013. This stagnation, on its own, is noteworthy because it points to the fact that, on the whole, widespread efforts to improve college and career readiness are not making enough of an impact. Troublingly, it also suggests that despite record high graduation rates, many students are finishing high school with diminished prospects for their futures, and that this pool of underprepared graduates is growing every year.
Moreover, it’s not just NAEP scores that point to the alarming gap between graduation rates and the number of students who are actually ready to take the next step when they graduate. A recently releasedreport from The Education Trust presents findings of an analysis of high school transcripts from across the country that show that 47 percent of high school graduates in 2013 completed neither a college- nor career-ready sequence of courses.
To be sure, a diploma is a vital credential for future success. But high school graduates who are not college and career ready face a much more difficult path forward, with many fewer opportunities ahead of them. And as we approach the end of another school year, after which yet another class of seniors will chart its course forward, the ongoing conversation about college and career readiness is fundamental to improving outcomes for all students in this country. Anymore, high school graduation is an important waypoint, but not a destination unto itself.
My blog series — #PitchTips — kicks off today. And for my first blog I’m bringing you a recap of what our team learned from attending a recent conference for education media. Hoping this will help improve your practice. ~ Devin
By Devin Boyle, Director of Media Relations
Two weeks ago I joined education reporters from across the country in Boston for the Education Writers Association Conference to talk edu story angles, edu policy, edu politics, and—on an unrelated note—the Red Sox v. Yankees. (Don’t ask me who won the series. A baseball fan, I am not.)
The conference, organized around the theme of “The Quest for Quality and Equity,” was a chance for journalists to learn from each other, discuss trending topics in education and honor the best education writing over the last year. For those of us in communications it was also a chance for us to learn from members of the media.
Over the course of a few days, our team got a glimpse into what journalists think will be the top storylines of 2016, and what they’re looking for in pitches from communications professionals. Below are a few things we learned. Shoot me an email if you want to brainstorm story ideas or have any questions about what works best in pitching (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Storylines Likely to Be Covered in 2016-17
Journalists gave their take on what they think will be the trending topics of 2016-17, ranging from diversity of the teaching workforce to new stories tied to Common Core. Here are a few to pay attention to. These will give you a few good starting points for story angles when crafting your pitches.
Trauma in and out of school;
Diversity of students and teachers;
Common Core implementation; and
What Media Need From Us
Reporters receive hundreds of email and phone pitches a day. It’s important that we make every word we say count when we’re sending them our story ideas if we want them to write about what we’re pitching. Below are two ways we can make our stories heard.
Grassroots Resources: Media want to have lists of teachers, parents, school leaders, etc. from across the country willing and ready to speak with them when stories tied to education at the grassroots level pop. When pitching, we should always let reporters know that we can connect them with the resources they need on the ground. (#PitchTip ~ Have a person(s) and/or program(s) you can list as example resources in your pitch.)
Research: Comms folks should always do their research before reaching out to media. They should know what storylines the reporter has previously written and whether or not what comms professionals are pitching would be relevant to the reporter they’re pitching to. (#PitchTip ~ Mention something you liked or that made you think in a recent article written by the reporter you’re pitching to.)
Collaborative is entrepreneurial and mission-driven. Our rapidly growing digital practice is helping leading organizations in the United States and around the world extend their influence by making data meaningful and actionable, and combining technology and creative solutions that are not only beautiful, but have impact. Through expert consulting services and award-winning products, we are building momentum and results—within our own organization and for those we serve.
We’re looking for a self-motivated, highly effective individual with extensive digital and project management experience—and a strong understanding of digital strategy, content strategy and storytelling—to join our team as Digital Project Manager.
The ideal new team member will be able to:
Facilitate the delivery and management of websites and online tools;
Lead projects and teams;
Deliver quality products on time and within scope and budget in a fast-paced, team-oriented professional environment; and
Remain aware of new and emerging technologies and their potential application for client engagements.
The Digital Project Manager will:
Lead the development of and create content for various digital products, including websites, data visualizations and video;
Consult directly with clients on digital solutions, helping to make decisions based on project goals, align to digital best practices and clarify project vision;
Independently direct website development and related digital projects;
Develop effective project plans to best support defined strategies and client deliverables;
Manage project scope, budget and timeline;
Actively engage in team and client strategy sessions, and support and manage trainings and launch events for clients;
Cultivate and sustain effective relationships with team members, clients and partners, media sources, and consultants and vendors;
Help to develop the Collaborative brand and expand the organization’s footprint.
Collaborative is a strong fit for professionals who want their work to matter; who possess strong drive, confidence and self-motivation; who demonstrate a willingness to work with others to achieve better results than can be accomplished alone; and who are resourceful, accountable, tenacious problem-solvers.
The successful candidate will have:
Bachelor’s degree and experience managing the creation of digital tools in the service of strategic goals;
Exceptional communications skills, combined with the ability to work with people at all levels of an organization;
Demonstrated leadership and management skills, including technical teams;
Ability to facilitate technical decision-making, both independently and in coordination with a client;
Familiarity with a range of database and CMS solutions and UX practices;
Experience with the development of project timelines, milestones, budget reports, technical requirements and user documentation;
Experience solving client or customer problems through the application of appropriate technical solutions, particularly as relevant to non-profit organizations and government agencies;
Experience with new and social media writing in a professional setting.
Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. This is full-time position, based in our Metro-accessible Washington, DC, office. Collaborative offers premium benefits.
Please visit http://www.collaborativecommunications.com to find more information about Collaborative’s award-winning products and services, as well as our corporate capabilities, values, philosophy, practice areas and client base. Please combine a cover letter and resume into a single file and send via e-mail (with subject line “Digital Project Manager”) to email@example.com. Resumes will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.
Collaborative Communications is a strategic consulting firm devoted to developing collaborative solutions to education, workforce and community challenges. Leading philanthropic, education and non-profit organizations, as well as universities and corporations hire Collaborative to achieve their strategic goals through superior communications, management, consulting and engagement services. We build tools, processes and products that are intended to accelerate learning and productivity and that regularly produce breakthrough results.
The statements in this description represent typical elements, criteria and general work performed. They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills for this job.
Collaborative is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. It is a strongly held value of Collaborative that power and possibility are not limited by gender, race, class, sexual orientation, disability or age. All candidates will be evaluated on a merit basis.
I recently joined the Collaborative team as the Senior Digital Project Manager. In this role, I’ll be guiding and advising clients as we work together to ensure that websites, social media and content marketing plans are aligned, engaging and, most importantly, breaking through the noise of today’s digital landscape.
Clients started asking me the question “How do I improve my website?” back when Geocities hosted webpages and the blink tag, in all its irritating glory, was a thing. The question was much simpler in the early days of the Internet, and the answers were much easier to provide.
Today, the game has changed a little. There are so many components tied to making a website—and organization—thrive in a digital world. Questions are no longer just about website improvement; they’re broader. Now they’re about creating a successful digital presence. More likely than not, clients have begun to dig deeper, asking questions like:
How do I get more people to sign up for my email list?
What’s a good number of Facebook likes?
Should we be reaching out to influencers on Twitter? Wait, what’s a Twitter influencer?
How do I know my digital marketing is working?
What is responsive design, and should my website use it?
How do I execute a content marketing campaign if my organization doesn’t have the time to produce content?
Today’s shifting digital landscape requires us to track so many more variables. There’s a lot more data to sift through, multiple tools to understand and channels to reach users. But we can still get to actionable answers that expand your digital reach and amplify your organization’s message!
And that will be the goal of this blog series: to explain and empower nonprofit leaders like you with approaches to taking advantage of these digital opportunities. We’ll discuss all the questions above, in the context of exploring:
How to define your users, your goals for your website and even why you have a website;
The discovery, documentation, and requirements processes that every website (and digital project) requires;
Digital marketing and reaching your users wherever they are online; and,
The latest digital trends and buzzwords, to see how they relate to your work.
In this blog, I will likely introduce a lot of new terms, concepts and possibilities, but I will also help you understand and use these ideas in everyday efforts to reach your audiences.
Still, amazingly, amid all these changes, “How can I improve my website?” is a valid and useful question, and a great place to start your digital improvement journey. If we can agree on the assumption that your website is really there for your users and one of their first stops toward learning about your organization, you can start with this exercise:
Take out a pen and paper and write down the three main actions you want users to take when they land on your website. Examples of this could be “submit email address for the user to receive email updates,” “have the user click into a resource section to gain background on a specific issue” or “download a PDF.”
Now, bring up your website and write down answers to the following three questions:
Do we clearly communicate a request to take those actions?
Do we clearly articulate to the user the benefit in taking these actions?
Do we make it easy for the user to take those actions? (How many clicks are needed, how many forms need to be filled out, etc.)
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then expand on that answer by articulating how the situation could be improved. By taking this next step—explaining how you want to change the site, not just that it needs to change—you’ve already done two important things: taken the first (and hardest!) step toward creating a website requirements document, and you’ve framed up how to increase user engagement on your website.
In my next post, I’ll dive into what to do with that information. In the meantime, I’m issuing an open invitation: If you have a topic you’d like covered here, feel free to reach out. You can find me via email, Twitter and LinkedIn.
I’m guessing most of us at one time or another have been overwhelmed by the concept of branding. Perhaps we have had to tackle the launch of our organization or we’ve decided it’s time to create a new look and feel to kick start the next frontier of our work. Either way, branding is complex and doing it well requires a strong understanding of each part of the process and how the different parts relate to the overall picture.
Thus, I’m kicking off a new blog series today to help you and your staff answer common questions tied to launching a new branding strategy or rebranding existing work. In the coming months I will walk you through the steps of creating a positive image for your organization.
So, let’s get started: What is branding and what does it mean? After years of working as a designer, I’ve developed my own definition of branding, based on my varying industry experiences.
In my experience, the biggest misconception is that the terms ‘logo’ and ‘brand’ are interchangeable, which they are not. Simply put, a logo is not a brand and a brand is not a logo, rather these two components of branding are linked together by identity elements. Branding is made up of three parts which include: a logo, identity elements and the brand itself. I’ve broken down the pieces in the graph below.
A logo is a graphic representation used by an organization to identify themselves.
Identity elements are created from an organization’s logo to reinforce their visual message. For example, identity elements include, but are not limited to: business cards, letterhead, printed collateral and websites.
A brand is the origin of a promise to its key stakeholders.
A brand doesn’t just include visual elements, but encompasses messaging and the personification of an organization’s products or services. For example, can an organization be trusted or not? A person might make a split-second buying decision based on an organization’s brand alone. Remember, branding is pushed outwardly by the organization, but the feedback from their key stakeholders ultimately helps to shape the organization in the public eye.
The main takeaway of branding is to understand that there are multiple pieces to the puzzle to get it right. And in the end, the key stakeholders experience is the foundation for every organization and there is no substitute for strong branding. Creating a strong branding strategy including your logo, your identity and your brand is imperative for an organization’s success.
Next time, we’ll dive deeper into the importance of branding and how to properly protect it. Now here’s your BrandBit for today (a.k.a fun fact!).
#BrandBit: Did you know that Coca-Cola’s red and white logo is recognized by 94 percent of the world’s population? Now that is what branding success looks like!
At Collaborative we dedicate our work to supporting education and learning by helping a wide variety of education nonprofits with their communications needs. Click to learn more about Collaborative and our services.