Why Your Brand Foundation Matters, Part 2

In part one of this article, I talked about the importance of a brand foundation that is solid. Like a house foundation, the brand look and feel of a business/organization needs to have its solid elements—for example its logo, colors, fonts, image selection.

Along with a solid structure, a brand foundation also needs to have its pliable elements. Seems contradictory, but a foundation that can withstand changing elements is important..

Build a foundation that is pliable
To be pliable means to be flexible and adaptable. This might sound counterintuitive to a brand identity, which is best if it is consistent. However, you need to keep your brand look and feel relevant as times change. Your brand foundation is solid, but it needs to adapt to the changing times around you.

Think of it this way: the solid part of the foundation sets the standards for the brand identity. This is your logo, fonts, colors, image selection. The pliable part of your brand means that you make adjustments as the organization and the world evolve, to be as relevant as possible.

Prichard 10th Anniversary Collateral
This was my goal when I worked on the Prichard Communications 10th Anniversary collateral. Prichard, a communications firm that works with top-tier nonprofits and foundations, wanted to make the most out of their 10th anniversary. They came to me to help them with a special logo they would use for the year , art direction on a video, a downloadable handout, and social media templates.

Prichard’s brand was basic: 2 colors as well as 2 fonts. I did not work on their original brand, but I have worked with them on a number of marketing materials. I knew that the basic brand fonts and colors were a good foundation, but we needed more to make this anniversary feel like a celebration.

I used a complementary typeface that worked well with the original font. I also expanded the colors a little bit to make the Prichard blue the center of attention, then used a tone of the blue to call attention to the anniversary.

I wanted to have more colors, particularly for the handout. The 2 Prichard colors in their brand foundation, gray and blue, helped me to define other colors that would work in conjunction, yet also provide variety. We wanted each of these pieces to be a celebratory piece, so a fun, vibrant color palette was important.

It was essential to retain the most important quality of the brand’s foundation: Prichard’s brand personality as a group of intelligent, approachable, real people that care deeply about social change and community. Even though the look of this piece is a deviation from Prichard’s brand identity, it has roots of the core message.

Stay true, and have guts

What I love about the Prichard anniversary project are these three important things/this formula:

  • The original 10-year-old Prichard brand identity was strong enough to maintain a contemporary look throughout the years
  • Yet my client had the guts to grow its look when it was called for 1 + 2 = a brand identity that is genuine and savvy, just like my client
  • Have you shined a flashlight on your brand foundation? Do you see any cracks, or is it solid? Is it flexible enough to withstand change? Not sure? I can look with my flashlight — just reach out to me.