Those of us who have been fortunate enough to become authors for the Digital Brand Marketing Education Blog know intimately the four pillars that comprise the edifice of the DBME blog. We know their interrelatedness, their synergy and we continually learn more as the skyrocketing technology raises the roof on the other three pillars.
DIGITAL, BRAND, MARKETING, EDUCATION
A piece of writing can illustrate the interrelatedness between digital technology, branding, marketing and their value as educational tools if seamlessly crafted by a seasoned professional. Basil Puglisi, the founder of DBMEi, expertly summarizes the process, in less a minute, in the above video.
This blog post, Brand Development, will focus primarily on two of the pillars, branding and marketing. Ironically, the emphasis on digital technology is antithetical because the story is about a company that primarily pre-dates the transition from the analog to digital world. Nonetheless, this exploration of branding is a study worth anyone’s attention, those who are ensconced in the digital world and those who know nothing about it.
HOW A BRAND IS DEVELOPED
A brand ultimately needs to become that ‘entity’ by which a company or organization is known and recognized. It can be comprised of visual, verbal, audial and other sensory components. It can start out simple and grow to become more complex. It can start out complex and be simplified. It can also start simple and stay simple, start complex and stay complex. In my opinion, one way is not superior to any other. All that matters is that the end result works.
MY FAVORITE PRE-DIGITAL BRAND
My favorite pre-digital brand is an extraordinary example of simple stays simple. And it did work. For our present day digital technology purposes, there is much to observe and learn from this masterful example. This brand was for a company that existed in the last quarter of the 20th century. It business and products were predominantly pre-digital. The shift to digital did not represent the true spirit of the company or its brand.
THE ELEMENTS OF THE BRAND
The basic element was a single color, red. It then grew to include one word of type, charrette. The style was Helvetica and the color was white. The Charrette Corporation was the largest distributor and retailer of design tools in the industries of architecture, graphics, landscaping, interiors, engineering and fashion during its time. Its reach was from New England, south on the East Coast, and west into the Heartland.
The primary source of income from the corporation was the commercial side accounts. The commercial accounts included even various branches of the US government. But the retail side was where Charrette really showed what its brand was made of. The retail side consisted of such an exclusive group of famous clientele, designer, actors, writers, etc. that this ‘sought after’ list is still safely guarded and unpublished to keep the anonymity of this extraordinary group of customers.
The brand was so powerful that even when some of the elements were changes over its decades of existence, the integrity was always maintained. One could identify a Charrette store, vehicle, product, and packaging. The impeccable job creating and permeating their brand which embodied an attention to detail and clean, simple lines reflected its corporate culture and philosophy, spilled over into its marketing and its very soul. This was so well done that I believe customers (myself included) would buy their products not only because of their superior quality but also to own a piece of that brand and to be a part of that amazing culture, its spirit and soul.
The Charrette Corporation is gone in body but the memories and memorabilia of this brand live on. Charrette was easily able to do extraordinary marketing because of the impeccable attention to detail both in their products and the branding of everything they produced.
The Charrette culture, their religious approach to quality and attention to detail live on as an extraordinary lesson for all of us who have an interest in brand development and marketing. Digital technology can spread the words (and images) faster than we ever could before. Charrette did not have that advantage. But what they had was something remarkable to share. For the time that Charrette was at the top of its game, it did a job that set the standard for many other industries that I believe has not been surpassed today.