We briefly touched on systems that empower and encourage accurate and consistent brand expression in my article Common Pitfalls in Brand Authenticity. This article will elaborate on what those systems are, and how to implement them.

Modes of Interaction

Human beings have three distinct processing centers that construct our experience of the world. Aristotle often gets the credit for discovering these three modalities in his work on rhetoric.

Human beings communicate in one of three distinct ways: a logical, emotional, or ethical appeal. When an organization is engaging with a person (i.e. interfacing through brand), this takes form in three corresponding ways.

Messaging

Reasons, tangible benefits, performance and the like are all matters of logic. These logical appeals are best suited for communicating through language.

The content itself, the particular information you choose to deliver, says something about your brand identity and what it stands for. Concurrently, the style of communication (i.e. voice and tone) is akin to body language, and speaks volumes of your worldview and values as well.

Experience

User experience, user interface, customer journeys, employee experience, gestures, impressions, moments created to affect the emotional state of your audience: these are all matters of experience.

Nurturing relationship, being empathetic and cognizant of your audience’s emotional state, and designing your touchpoints with the intent to influence their state in specific ways—this is how brands powerfully appeal to the emotion.

Visuals

Historically, humans have employed symbols as a vessel for our richest, most deep-seated meaning sets, e.g. seals, flags, coats of arms, etc. The most modern application of this (in this age of the corporation) is the logo.

Aside from very specific marks and symbols, other aesthetic elements are inherent with meanings that appeal to certain characteristics, or ethics. Things like colors, patterns, icons, graphic elements and illustrations, even fonts, all subconsciously communicate specific values that resonate at the deepest levels of identity.

Accurate Expression

So language, experience, and visuals are the modalities, or channels, through which we communicate. The very next concern is that of expressing your brand accurately through these channels.

This is successfully accomplished by documenting your brand identity in a coherent, comprehensive fashion. That looks like the usual strategic documents: your mission, vision, values, positioning statement, etc. However, we’ve gone a step further and introduced a revolutionary and powerful tool for defining your identity.

At Prismonde, as part of our core brand identity methodology, we’ve designed a system to define your brand identity in terms of its logical, emotional, and ethical appeal. We call these your Brand PillarsTM; These are integral to our holistic system for accurate and consistent brand expression. Which leads to our second topic of interest.

Consistent Expression

The most successful brands are those that earn instant credibility and build trust and affinity over time. As Jeff Weiner, former LinkedIn CEO (now executive chairman) said:

Trust equals consistency over time.

In order for brands to accomplish this, they need to put systems in place to foster congruent expression over time. These are things like:

  • Brand Style Guides – which include guidance for use of brand assets, typography, color utilization, photography styles, patterns, icons, illustration styles, etc.
  • Culture Guides / Brand Books – which include things like core values, manifestos, voice & tone, mission statement, employee experience guides, origin story, leadership guides, etc.
  • Experience Guides – these are something Prismonde is pioneering that we’ve seen very little of out there, but think will become commonplace and massively valuable over the next decade. This would include things like customer experience guides, employee experience guides, product experience guides , company ‘rituals’, behavior design strategies, and beyond.

The Translation Gap

The biggest missing link for most companies is figuring out how to accurately translate something abstract like brand values into concrete, authentic expression in messaging, visuals, and experiences.

Recognizing this challenge (and opting to avoid leaving such a critical task to chance), we’ve engineered a method to directly translate the abstract into the concrete. Built on top of our Brand Pillars™, we’ve fine-tuned a system that translates them 1:1 into what we call Brand Expression Dynamics™. We describe this document as an objective rubric, to measure and maintain accurate brand expression.

We lead people through these processes in our workshops and brand engagements. But we wanted to find a way to make these game-changing tools more accessible to a wider audience, especially those with more limited resources. Hence, the Expression Dynamics Kit: a DIY workbook for bootstrappers looking to get the most out of their branding efforts as they gain traction. Check that out if you’re keen.