"If you look at our office and the nature of the interaction in our office – it is a mess. It is a messy place; the processes are messy," says Ije Nwokorie, global CEO of Wolff Olins. "And I think branding is increasingly a really kind of messy business."
Nwokorie gets irritated by industry talk about branding in "its complete, finished, done state". More interesting than the end result as a perfectly executed application, he says, is "the mess that we create on a daily basis".
He believes that the discipline of branding is going through a fundamental shift. Due to changes in technology and culture, branding is moving away from living at the intersection between corporate strategy (where the organisation wants to go) and communication (how the organisation talks about itself). It now lives at the interaction between corporate strategy and service and product innovation (the things the organisation makes).
“Increasingly, people’s perception of a brand is not what it says on a billboard far away or on a TV ad but in the products and service and experiences that people have,” Nwokorie states.
Recent work that Wolff Olins did for Skype, for example, is less about putting the brand on a pedestal than it is about the way people actually behave when they use Skype.
“It is about the reality, the imperfections and the messiness of using Skype,” he says. “And it turns out this is absolutely fantastic material for creating a brand. The place where people experience the brand is almost as important, if not more important, than what the branding is – and capturing that is a powerful thing.”
This year for the first time, the Design Indaba Conference talks make their premiere on our App, conveniently packaged in one place and available for free download. For more on the messy business of branding from Nwokorie, you can watch the full talk on the Design Indaba App.