Penelope Bettison  |  Wednesday 13th March 2013
With the launch of the new SA brand last week, it is an interesting time to consider the process that the government has undertaken to achieve the new brand, and compare it to your own.

Think about the detailed planning and process involved. There was a project team appointed, with key stakeholders from government, business and branding specialists. A high profile brand designer was engaged. Community consultation through forums and consultations, social media, one-on-one meetings and an open survey. In fact over 3,500 people were consulted in the process. All just to create a brief? Considerable publicity and PR was planned throughout and finally a significant event was produced to launch the brand and continue to entice engagement.

The project team acknowledge that behind a brand sits strong theory and architecture; they talk about all the usual rhetoric of understanding authentic values and beliefs. But here’s the point…’s not rhetoric. This process has been about awareness and engagement, yes someone in the USA didn’t know where SA is, but as David O’Loughlin says, it’s also about “self-belief” – our own awareness. Whether you like the logo on not, doesn’t really matter, the process alone has been a branding exercise in itself.

SMEs are so quick to engage a designer (often no brief) and voila, they think they have a brand. Those that do appreciate the value of a brand may give it a little more consideration, but have you thoroughly considered your brand values, your key messages, your competitors and how your brand is positioned?

How can SMEs use the SA branding exercise as an example of how to go about it? Well, consider what research you need to do in your business to prepare your design brief. Talk to staff, consumers, stakeholders and management. What are your company’s values? Don’t know….well find out, articulate them and live them. It’s about discovering the truth about your brand story, not manufacturing one without soul. Developing the brief is a branding exercise in itself.

Think you don’t need to do this? You already have a brand right….you have a logo. Well as we keep harping on about, the logo isn’t the brand; it’s just the icon that symbolises it. So is it time for you to look at your brand again? You may not need a new icon, but the process of a review alone will help your brand considerably.