Branding a Complex Organization.

Branding an Association of Just Under Half a Million Individuals with Varying Needs. As organizations (associations, companies, corporations, societies, etc.) grow they tend to become more and more complex and diverse. Products and services grow from within the organization and others are acquired through mergers and acquisitions. However, through all of this the organization still wants to present itself to its employees, its target audiences, and the media as clearly and as comprehensibly as possible. The organization needs to have all of its different parts relate to one another in a way that consolidates its ideas, sections, divisions, companies and brands. In addition, the organization needs to symbolize its mission and attitudes to its employees so that they will all share in the same overall corporate feeling with each other – and then communicate that message to whomever they deal with. The organization also needs to differentiate its mission, its product and its services from any and all competitors in the marketplace.

The best way to manifest this goal to so many different audiences and markets simultaneously is to brand the organization through the development of a visual symbol. This symbol must then by applied to all of the organization’s materials: from stationery to signage to vehicles; from marketing to advertising to packaging to exhibits; and to all of the organizations products, services, and publications. This symbol when properly supported by the organization’s motto – and backed by promotional support – becomes the brand identity of that organization.

One such organization that required brand renovation was the American Bar Association – the largest voluntary professional association in the world. With more than 400,000 members, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and innovations to improve the legal system for the public at large. Founded in 1878, the mission of the American Bar Association is to be the national representative of the legal profession, serving the public and the profession by promoting justice, professional excellence and respect for the law. Because it is such a large organization the American Bar Association is constantly developing printed and electronic materials for its various divisions and sections; recruitment and retention; seminars and conferences; books and periodicals; for both members and non-members alike. Most of the divisions, sections, etc. have their own symbols – symbols that represent their own specific needs. And, where this enables small areas of the organization to feel individual, it does nothing to hold the ABA together as an organization.

With such a diverse organization producing such an abundance of materials (from liberal to conservative viewpoints; from students to professionals) a symbol that would encompass all of these parameters would need to be simple, straight forward, and easy to read. collaborated with the ABA staff to help conceive and develop an identity symbol that would tie all the various parts of the organization together under one unified brandmark. The American Bar Association logo forms the three basic characters (A B A) together into a ligature format and is distinctive within the organization’s marketplace.

DesignMarks’ concern for projecting the image of an organization or a corporation does not end with the development of a brandmark. We are involved in all facets of symbol management, organizational identification programs and visual communications. is expert in both developing total branding programs as well as handling segments of programs that are already established.


About Nate Marks

We live and work in a world of visual images.
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