Raymond Manookian

MA Graphic Design London College of Communication 2010-2011

Month: August, 2011

Introduction #3

We live in a world dominated by brands.

Brands are a set of manufactured perceptions and images that identify and persuade our everyday decisions from the food we eat, the way we look, the way we think, even where we live is influenced by brands. This is because in the world we live in today, there are very few (if any) organisations that have not adopted the concept of brand. Everyone from the commercial and corporate sector, government organisations, celebrities, even countries embraced the idea. So much so, that the term brand and branding are now part of everyday language.

However, it is often misinterpreted. As Wally Olins articulates in The Brand Handbook, despite the ubiquity of brands and branding, and despite all the talk, surprisingly few people seem to understand what they are actually about. The subject is confused and confusing. This is partly because brand and its various applications branding (which will discuss later) can encapsulate both big and important and apparently superficial and trivial issues simultaneously’1.

For the purpose of this thesis, it is important to define what the differences are between brand and branding.

What is brand?

A brand represents the full ‘personality’ of the company and is interface between company and audience2. A brand’s construct is a promise that links a product or a service to the consumer. Whether words, images, or emotions, or any combination of the three, brands are, mental associations which are stimulated when you think or hear about a particular product (car or camera), organisation (Apple or Virgin), a corporation (Tesco or Harrods), celebrity (David Beckham or Germaine Greer), even a country (Brazil or Japan). It is something that lives in the brain. Brands are the cognitive associations that exist in the mind. When those mental associations make the associated product, service or organisation more salient, more interesting, or more compelling than the alternatives, they create value. To use a modern analogy it is the ‘file we save in the minds mental desktop’3.

If you look at any of the best brand in world, old or new, it is possible to tell what makes them different from its competitors within its category or sector. The strongest of brands are successful not merely, because they have established a differentiated meaning of their brand, but that they have ensured that it has relevance. What sets them apart is they can reduced this meaningful difference to a simple and understandable thought, or to put in layman’s terms – an idea people can get and connect with the second they see and recognise it. A successful brand is all about detail. Every facet of a brand must be apparent in the organisations communications, behaviour, products and environment4.

As touched upon earlier, brands now cover a broad range of genres, but within the last three decades, the brand landscape has changed in that dominant brands are no longer controlled, and influenced by the commercial and corporate sector. Brands from the charity sector now have a prodigious existence in the minds of the consumer.

What is branding?

Branding is the conveyance of a brand. It is an application of an idea. Figure x shows the many methods in which organisations convey the brand into people minds. They are commonly referred to as the brand ‘touchpoints’. They are the means in which an organisation raises awareness, communicates its values or proposition and builds relationships.  Anything that is an expression of the idea of the brand is a brand touchpoint. Advertising is one of the various touchpoints of a brand and their relevance is to be examined in detail in the next section.

Charity branding

Branding has been increasing employed by the charity and non-government-organisations (NGO) that compete in the emotional territory of people’s hearts and minds with commercial brands for the money in consumers’ pockets5. Since the late 1980’s this sector has been developing and shaping the way in which we interpret their organisations. In 2010, the United Kingdom the charity sector was valued at £53 billion6, with £10.6 billion of this figure coming from the public through voluntary donations7.

Many of our current popular charities and NGOs beginnings started anti-establishment and counter culture movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Some can trace their heritage back to the Victorian age. The struggles of the 1960s started to changes that would eventually grown into the ‘personal politics’ of the 1990s8. Charities and NGOs have long been in existence and as global organisations before these events. However, it was during this era that the idea of campaign awareness, through a global community, all coming together as one powerful force, through the potency of mass media that laid the foundations of much of the global awareness campaigns being employed by large international charities and NGOs today.

Charity brands came to prominence in the later part of the 1980’s by the endeavours likes of Band Aid and Live Aid: Famine relief efforts and the AIDS awareness campaigns. Band Aid and Live Aid were both engineered by Irish musician Bob Geldolf. The sales of the Band Aid single, released in 1984, raised over £10 million for the Ethiopian famine relief, and in the summer of 1985, Live Aid the sister event was broadcast to 152 countries around the world in the most ambitious satellite link-up that at that time had ever been created. Live Aid also produced a legacy of charity events, in both Europe and America. These included Fashion Aid, Cartoon Aid, and Artists’ Aid, all of them trying to recapture that precious feeling of goodwill, some more than others9.

The AIDS awareness campaigns of the latter part of the 1980s incorporated the methods and tactics of corporate design and advertising to fight government in action on AIDS issues10. ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) made good use of brand touchpoints, for example developing a reference point (or logo), advertising campaigns, merchandising to name but a few, to reinforce the need to keep the pressure on governments and as a communication tool to educate their benefactors and the general public at large of the issues. The strategic planning and execution established the movement and made sure AIDS remained in the public’s conscious.

Within five years, ACT UP had become a large network of independent city chapters with an international reach spanning two-dozen countries11.

ACT UP represented two important developments; the first was the trend towards ‘personal politics’, and the second the incorporation of professional marketing and brand theory within this sector.

  1. Wally Olins: The Brand Handbook. Thames Hudson 2008, Page 8
  2. The Fundamentals of Branding. AVA Publishing 2009. Page 12
  3. Allen Anderson. Brand Simple by Palgrave Macmillan 2006. Page4.
  4. Brian Boylan, Chairman Wolff Olins. Design Brand Identity (Third Edition). John Wiley & Sons, Inc 2009. Page 275
  5. Wally Olins: On BÒand. Thames Hudson 2004 Page 14
  6. http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/About_us/About_charities/factfigures.aspx. 15 August 2011
  7. UK Giving 2010. An over view of charitable giving in the UK, 2009/2010. December 2010. National Council of Voluntary Organisations
  8. Liz McQuiston. Graphics of Agitation, social and political graphics since the Sixties. Phaidon 2006. Page 134
  9. Liz McQuiston. Graphics of Agitation, social and political graphics since the Sixties. Phaidon 2006. Page 123
  10. Liz McQuiston. Graphics of Agitation, social and political graphics since the Sixties. Phaidon 2006. Page 96
  11. Liz McQuiston. Graphics of Agitation, social and political graphics since the Sixties. Phaidon 2006. Page 128

Methodology: Draft#1

Below is my initial attempt at the opening statement discussing my methodology. Having read it again, it is probably more relevant to the Introduction/Context section. But it has got me thinking with regards to why I am targeting certian attributes of these posters and orgainsations to test my arguments. More to follow:

 

The draft copy is as follows:

Methodology

The first decade of the new millennium will be remembered for a wide-ranging series of extraordinary global events. The concept of a global community became a reality with the proliferation of the Internet. Globalisation was born, and with it the notion of being part of a truly global community. This new populace had more access and freedom of knowledge than ever before, and all at the end of their fingertips.  . . . . .  where it was knowledge and understanding of each other cultures and traditions would travel everywhere. A new demographic was born, the Internet generation or as they are sometimes called Generation Z1.

However, that was not entirely the case. What the first decade brought the world was a rapid growth of wealth, which was subsequently rocked to its foundations in the later part of the decade. A spectrum of environmental disasters both natural and man-made. Horrendous acts of terrorism on a scale never scene before which gave us the first war of the twenty first century – the ‘War on Terror’2, which of course, did not include all of the previous century’s ongoing conflicts.

All of which beamed into the homes of the world via 24-hour news streams, and together with proliferation of the Internet, onto computer screens and the abundance of smart technological devices. In fact, the first decade of the new millennium probably saw more change on a scale and in a manner not scene in any of the decades before.

With the playing field now changed forever, companies and organisations needed to find new ways to attract our attention. Many, if not all, found that the traditional methods of marketing were no longer effective, and therefore, irrelevant. The age of mass media brought a new type of consumer, a more shrewd and intelligent individual that was able to ignore the noise of the new global market all competing, for what Dr Michael Bloomfield of the London agency SignSalad describes as our ‘mental space’.

 

  1. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Z 16 August 2011
  2. BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/september/12/newsid_2515000/2515239.stm 16 August 2011

Introduction #2

This week, I will be working on putting together the notes that I have accumulated for the various introductory sections of the thesis. It is a little garbled at the moment, and becuae they have been noted at various times, usually in response to something I have read or heard, the tone of voice is a inconsistent. I have worked on a proposed structure, but I am anxious to start to actually get this down in writing to build some momentum as to what my critical position is.

I am also looking to establish if the visual experiments and modes of deconstruction and rationalisation of the material I have is going to be relevant. What changes need to be made and, hopefully, some further avenues for investigation.

Anyway, below is the first draft of the week:

Introduction and context

We live in a world dominated by brands, a set of perceptions and images that identify and persuade our everyday decisions from the food we eat, what we wear, what we read, even where is live is dominate by brands.

Since the late 1980’s the charity sector and non-profit organisations have been developing and adjusting the way in which we interpret their organisations. The charity sector in the UK is valued at £53 billion1, £10.6 billion of that coming from the public through voluntary donations2, and the need for the sector to incorporate the model of the commercial sectors infrastructure and organisation has been of paramount importance. One of its many aspects is the need for a strong and focussed marketing and communication platform.

It is important to define what this study is describing when it talks about brand and branding, as well as, the difference between them, and to clarify what a charity and not-for-profit or non-government-organisations (NGO) is and how it works.

For most professional organizations in the western world, a brand is everything. A brand is the ideas, the memories, and the feelings evoked every time someone thinks of the brand. It is something that lives in the brain. Whether it is words or images, symbols or colours, or any combination of these things. Brands are the cognitive associations that exist in the mind. When those mental associations make the associated product, service or organisation more salient, more interesting, or more compelling than the alternatives, they create value. It is what Allan Anderson; Managing Director of Landor Associates refers to as the ‘save as file’ we store in the minds mental ‘desktop’3.

If you look at any of the best brand in world, old or new, it is possible to tell what makes them different from its competitors within its category or sector. The strongest of brands are successful not merely, because they have established a differentiated meaning of their brand and ensured that it has relevance. It is because they reduced this meaningful difference to a simple and understandable thought – an idea people can get and connect with the second they see and recognise it. This in the media rich western world is about all you are likely to get.

 

 

1. http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/About_us/About_charities/factfigures.aspx. 15 August 2011

2. UK Giving 2010. An over view of charitable giving in the UK, 2009/2010. December 2010. National Council of Voluntary Organisations

3.  Allen Anderson. Brand Simple by Palgrave Macmillian 2006. Page4.

 

 

 

 

Visual handbook #1

I figured I needed to gather all of the information I have in a neutrally and structured manner. The rationale for this is two fold:

  1. I wanted have all of the examples I have collected in one place
  2. I wanted to give the reader of this project a central point to access my latter findings. By this I mean, if I’m warranting something specific, the viewer/reader has a central resource with is untainted by my own theory or findings

The very nature of these types of documents means that the data collected needs to be organised using a familiar filing method. As it stands now, the intention is to organise the examples into chronological order of organisations being analysed in alphabetical order, and then organise by month and year, January 2000 through to December 2010.

In addition to this, there is also two other sets of information being applied and they are, the ‘audience’ – they place in which the poster was displayed or advertised, and the ‘issue’ being communicated. Overall, it is a qualitative and denotative collating process.

It is already providing me with some initial thoughts in terms of how to break down this information further and has highlighted a few characteristics that had not been noticed before.

I am beginning to wonder whether I should continue producing this document with each of the organisations material arranged together, for example all work produced within any given month and year, to see if there is any specific cross-over’s, clashes etc. What I do not want them to be doing is to have them appear as though they are competing. I have another idea that involves mapping/plotting these onto to a grid to see how they cluster and see if there have been times when they have all been competing with each other for our mental space in general, aside from anything specific.

This document may also prove useful as a point of reference when I come to writing my arguments, something to which demonstrates a point in neutral/unbiased terms. Another aspect it will bring is an authenticity that is going to be invaluable to a potentially sceptical audience.

Below are a couple of examples of the spreads:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Campaign Focus_Amnesty International #1

The object of this experiment was to observe the focus of attention for Amnsety International during 2000-2010. I am interested in seeing how the campaigns have been shaped over that time period and what has been their most prevalent of issues.

A good test for any organisation is to be able to observe a consistent and focussed point of direction. It enables the outside world to understand who they are and what it is they stand for. It is also just as important with its own audiences, and by that I mean its internal audience (employees), its supporters and stakeholders, as well as, the very individuals it is supporting or campaigning for.

There is some refinement required for this piece, as well as some more experiments using other formats and methods, but as tool for visualising the focus I think this might have some potential. I need to find a way of signposting the years more clearly. In these examples I have used the size of the type as a means to show emphasis what issues Amnesty has focussed in a particular year. Of the two on show, I think the artwork which I’ve applied an underscore aids in the communication of the emphasis, but, I dont think it is enough. Maybe having an actual time line may help. I was thinking of having an equal line of space for each year, but the problem is, because of the limitation of the material I have, it can look very sparse at times.

As well as working on this particular piece, I am going to produce another similar graphic which will focus on the headlines of the posters. The aim of this piece will be to survey the tone of voice of Amnesty to and what that is and what, if anything, has changed of the given time period of assessment.

Introduction: draft – #1

In 2010, 180,000 charities were registered in England and Wales, generating an annual income of £52.5 billion pounds and employing around 850,000 trustees, 780,000 paid staff and around 2.7 million volunteers.(1)

The vast scope of the UK’s charity sector varies hugely and specialises within many spheres; all of which are governed by the Charities Act of 2006(2).

The Charities Act 2006  is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom intended to alter the regulatory framework in which charities operate, partly by amending the Charities Act 1993. The Act contains three main provisions: definition of the requirements to qualify as a charity, the establishment of a Charity Tribunal to hear appeals from decisions of the Charity Commission, and alterations to the requirements for registering charities.

For the purposes of the law, a charitable organisation must demonstrate that it serves the public interest, and that its purpose lies entirely in the promotion of one or more of the following causes:

  • the advancement of education;
  • the advancement of religion;
  • the advancement of health or the saving of lives;
  • the advancement of citizenship or community development;
  • the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science;
  • the advancement of amateur sport;
  • the advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation or the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversity;
  • the advancement of environmental protection or improvement;
  • the relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage;
  • the advancement of animal welfare;
  • the promotion of the efficiency of the armed forces of the Crown, or of the efficiency of the police, fire and rescue services or ambulance services.(3)

The purpose of this study is to examine the visual language of the charity sector, both international and national, to access the following:

  • What is the visual 
  • What if any has changed within the sector between 2000 – 2010
  • How if any have these organisations changed or evolved their tactics for communicating their message