Fall in love at your own risk

Earlier this month, I went to a talk hosted by The West of England Design Forum (WEDF) at the Arnolfini in Bristol. The WEDF is a small group of passionate individuals who have created a platform for those interested in the design industry to share ideas and make new connections and, having previously dabbled in print advertising and brand design, I’m always interested to learn more about a sector that often overlaps with PR.

Guest company Ragged Edge, a brand-building agency based in London, presented on the night and gave us an insight into their branding strategy, from concept to execution.

What particularly interested me was the focus Ragged Edge pays to a brand’s verbal identity as a core component of their overarching strategy, long before the design phase is even considered.

We live in a digital age where photography, videography and design are increasingly important and we are regularly bombarded with statistics about how much these visual cues can improve a brand’s reach on websites and social media channels.

And this was compounded by a ‘hands-up’ exercise at the beginning of the talk, revealing the huge number of designers in attendance in comparison with the number of strategists and writers.

But the fact that this London design agency has a nascent dedicated writing team speaks volumes about the enduring yet increasing importance of brands owning a clear verbal identity alongside their visual one.

 “Fall in love at your own risk” was the advice offered by Ragged Edge’s associate creative director in reference to the emotional rollercoaster than comes with establishing a brand’s written and spoken identity, and wiser words have never been said.

Finding the vocabulary and syntax to successfully express a brand’s reason to exist, its backstory, its centre of gravity and its personality is certainly a challenge and one which the design agency compared to playing doubles tennis in terms of the teamwork behind the process.

Echoing the recent blog of Purplefish managing director Joanna Randall, brands are now expected to be far more than just a logo.

We work closely with our clients to ensure their brand is effectively and consistently articulated in their verbal identity through our content generation – whether it be a press release, blog, social media content, etc. – and in a way that also seamlessly reflects its core concept, brand design and personality.

Brands must do what they do best, what their customers want most and what their competitors do least (another great mantra from the Ragged Edge team) but, fundamentally, they’ve got to be able to talk about it.