Holistic branding: More than the sum of its parts

Enterprise IG's drive to lead the field in offering a true "holistic branding" service to clients has resulted in the company being the only strategic brand and design consultancy to employ designers across all disciplines – from architects, to interior designers, industrial designers, product designers, graphic designers, human behaviour designers and dedicated brand strategists.
Holistic branding is a strategic approach that covers the entire experience we would have with a brand, from the product itself to the environment it lives in and all its associations.

Enterprise IG CEO : Africa Middle East, Anthony Swart, says in recent years branding has moved from the periphery of business into the mainstream of finance and strategy. "In a world where little, if anything, is unique, bars of soap, rock stars, motor cars, and politicians are all commodities. It is branding that injects values, life and meaning into objects, products, services and even people. Holistic branding is really a dynamic strategy for making branding's "whole" greater than the sum of its "parts"," he says.

Defining a brand's value set and it's desired positioning is key, and precedes any attempts at creating visual manifestations of the brand and the experience.

The visual "front end" of branding is shaping identities that reflect that brand's values. This is about primary branding and creating the basic elements associated with an organisation: its name, the logo, logotype, colours and style. These elements establish the brand's physical presence and manifest in everything from business cards, through signage, vehicle livery, marketing collateral and extend into the three dimensional environment.

The physical space occupied by an organisation's premises or outlets should be viewed as integral to the process of creating lasting impressions in the minds of both internal and external customers. Retailers are among the leaders in this concept, concentrating on creating more innovative physical environments that convey their brands values and positioning.

"The work of architects and interior designers, whose expertise is critical to shaping exterior and interior environments, takes branding a step closer to being "holistic"," says Swart.

Exterior architectural designs are being created with conscious reference to the overall messages to be conveyed by the brand. For instance, Germany's see-through parliamentary buildings, the Reichstadt, designed by Sir Norman Foster, communicate a promise of transparency.

In addition, Audi's development of consistent exterior and interior showroom designs, based on an aeronautical hangar theme that reflects engineering excellence, is in keeping with the brand's values - "Vorsprung durch Technik" - and demonstrates how architecture and brand values can be integrated. Says Swart, "the values of the brand are echoed through the vehicle, the brochure, the ad, the signage, the building, the workshop and the people.

Understanding and establishing continuity between the primary elements of a brand and its broader manifestations has not only helped build new brands, but has made strong brands stronger. For years, the Coke brand was given life and personality through its advertising, not the branding. Now, a more strategic approach to the range of the brand's elements has ensured that style and personality pervade the Coke brand.

Most brands manifest from the inside out. Your people deliver your brand. We help business to align business and brand engagement through enabling people to understand their role in delivering the brand, in embedding the brand in key corporate processes and in bringing the brand personality and values to life internally.

Swart says holistic branding, with its foundations in strategy rather than execution, has to be the way of the future. We are also in the process of innovating an AMBIENT BRANDING module to complement our holistic approach. Consider the role of your smell and sound senses. They contribute substantially to your perceptions. IBM has recently completed their global sound branding strategy. We will soon integrate this into our standard offering. "Holistic branding requires a multi-disciplinary rather than a specialised approach. Our designers are encouraged to work across disciplines as well as in multi-disciplinary teams and we have the breadth and depth of skills to achieve this.

"Holistic branding embraces the economic, political and social context in which brands are conceived and received. Brands express not only commercial or individual priorities, but also social values. A holistic branding strategy demands that we make the social values associated with a brand explicit. In this way we extend the brand's connection with individual hearts and minds to a presence within entire communities," says Swart.

Editorial contact
Enterprise IG
Kay Nash
+27 (0)21 887 1855

Hermann Behrens
+27 (0)11 319 8000
+27 (0)82 920 8809

11 Jun 2003 23:50