An expert guide to branding and place branding

Branding is what sets products and services apart – but it’s so much more than logos, brand guidelines and touch points.

When BrandCulture opened its doors in 2003, we specialised in graphic design and branding.

Before long, Stephen Minning noticed how carelessly brands were being applied within built environments. Logos were being slapped onto walls. Brand guidelines were clumsily applied to signs and doors. Clients were splashing their brand palette on every spare surface, not realising that brand cues often work best when they are restrained and subtle.

So, BrandCulture expanded beyond creating brand identities to offer environmental graphics and wayfinding services. The rest is history.

“We wanted to make branding part of the overall experience of the built environment,” explains Stephen. “Today, as branding consultants, we create strong brands, but we also work closely with architects and interior designers to design powerful brand experiences within physical spaces. It’s a holistic approach, which many branding agencies don’t offer.”

The rise of place branding

In recent years, place branding has emerged as a specialist branch of branding.

The places doing it best go way beyond logos. Take Austin, the fastest-growing city in the United States. Austin’s place branding strategy encompasses everything from its music scene, to hosting events like SXSW. According to Forbes, “Selling a location involves so much more than sticking a label on it.”

We love utilising our knowledge of branding to create engaging destinations. Currently, we’re devising a new brand for the Rosenthal Project in Lane Cove. It’s a wonderfully collaborative project, where the brand strategy is being developed in consultation with Lane Cove Council, its constituents and key stakeholders.

Wayfinding also plays an important role in place branding. “By taking a strategic branding approach, we ensure your wayfinding system creates a positive brand experience through clear communication,” explains Stephen.

“Culture is brand, brand is culture”

 With a name like ‘BrandCulture’, it may not come as a surprise to learn that we believe branding and culture are closely intertwined.

No matter what type of organisation you represent, your workplace should promote your values, communicate your mission, celebrate your heritage and recognise staff achievement. This requires a precise mix of branding and environmental graphic design expertise.

According to Harvard Business Review, “Even the most creative business leaders recognize that success is not just about marketing differently from other companies. It is also about caring more than other companies — about customers, about colleagues, about how the organization conducts itself.”

In other words, success relates to having a strong company culture, and branding is the perfect tool with which to bring your culture to life.

It’s the reason we go beyond designing logos and brand guidelines. We leverage our knowledge of branding to design thoughtful, human experiences that connect people to place.