A display contains frozen items, and the shelves are stocked with jars and cans. But there’s just one reason to visit this Boerum Hill business: meat.
NYS Entity Status
NYS Filing Date
DECEMBER 03, 2013
NYS DOS ID#
NYS Entity Type
DOMESTIC PROFESSIONAL SERVICE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
2013 - DO ARCHITECTURE PLLC
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By ANDREW COTTO - Wednesday Jun 14, 2017
Brand Architecture: Our case study with the Union for Reform Judaism and other resources
Wednesday Nov 9, 2016
One of the big nonprofit communications topics that keeps surfacing this year is brand architecture. Midsize and larger organizations, in particular, are working harder than ever to connect the dots between myriad programs, events, and initiatives that have been too disjointed so they can communicate more clearly and cohesively.
If this is a topic that’s surfacing at your organization, these blogs might be useful too:
- Expressing the hierarchy of your brand: a useful primer for organizations wondering if they should worry about brand architecture
- Don’t make it harder to get the attention you deserve: answering the questions through real-world scenarios at your organization
- Does your organization have Laundry List Syndrome?: a look at the common tendency to resort to acronyms when program names go wild.
- Why bad brand architecture happens to good organizations: the internal and external factors that lead to this growing phenomenon.
Don’t hesitate to give us a shout if you’re struggling to communicate cohesively across multiple programs and initiatives.
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Why bad brand architecture happens to good organizations
Tuesday Oct 4, 2016
As nonprofits grow and evolve over time, their brands can get complicated. Rather than maintaining one unified look, organizations often create new logos, names, and other unique elements for their programs and initiatives. More often than not, this happens because an organization lacks a strategic framework for managing its brand over time. Things can get very messy.
Brand architecture is about defining and expressing the roles and relationships among the various brands and sub-brands of an organization. Sometimes having more complex brand architecture is the strategic thing to do, but usually, less is more.
Managing a single brand successfully is a time-intensive discipline. Managing multiple brands can be nearly impossible—and usually not strategic—for most nonprofits. Complicating an organization’s brand architecture can be counter-productive—both for the staff managing the various brands internally and for the audiences the brands are intended to engage.
What causes nonprofit brands to get so complicated and disconnected? We see two big reasons.
Without clear guidelines to follow (for instance, in the form of a brand guide or a communications director’s coaching), staff often take the opportunity to develop a new name, logo, color palette, or other elements for a program or initiative. They may feel it’s easier to do that than to navigate red tape, or they may be taking the opportunity to express their own personal tastes or vision for their program.
Organizational silos can also cause issues when it comes to branding. Without strong internal communications, and the clear role of a communications team, brands can take on a life of their own.
No matter the size of your organization's communication team—whether it’s one person or five—there should be a go-to person or “brand champion” you can seek approval and guidance from about the brand. They should also oversee a simple set of brand guidelines that all staff have access to and make sure new hires and old are clear what they are and how to use them. The brand champion should clearly communicate their role to staff and follow up regularly so that new and long-time staff members are reminded of the guidelines in place.
Brand architecture often gets complicated because of concerns about external perceptions or buy-in. Some of these concerns are less valid than others. For example, in an organization merger or acquisition, one organization may decide to keep the established identity of another in addition to its own to retain any brand equity it may have. Staff may feel like the risk of alienating or confusing longtime supporters by changing the identity of a program just isn’t worth it. Plenty of organizations also choose to name a program or facility in honor of a major donor or influential person in the organization’s history.
Both approaches may seem wise in the short term but can cause branding complications long term. We recommend thinking about what brand architecture system is going to be clearest to your key audiences in the long term. Then work backwards to decide on what interim changes need to be made to your current brand to get there.
Ultimately brand architecture is usually the result of unasked questions about whether all the various sub-brands under your organization’s umbrella are really necessary. To be able to navigate these decisions, define a brand architecture strategy that maps out guidelines for sub-branding. This should all be codified in your organization’s brand guide: your organization’s go-to resource for all things branding.
Need help? Just give us a call! We regularly help larger organizations navigate these waters.
Don’t make it harder to get the attention you deserve
Thursday Nov 3, 2016
Even organizations with a well-developed and up-to-date brand sometimes overlook one essential element of a strong communications strategy: brand architecture.
Brand architecture is the name we give to the complicated network of roles and relationships between your organization’s programs, initiatives, events, publications, spaces—all the things that you do, own, and are known for. You might refer to them as “brands” or “sub-brands.” Perhaps you don’t think of them as distinct entities with identities of their own. But your audiences often do.
Most nonprofits have grown their brand architecture in an ad hoc way—a clever event name here, an interesting icon there, a legacy group maintained from a merger. It may all seem like small stuff, but eventually it adds up to a big problem: a brand that lacks a coherent, purposeful narrative and fails to make a powerful and focused impression.
Evidence of brand architecture problems pops up in the conversations you have with your team every day.
“Should we put our logo on our Walk t-shirts?”
When you have clear and purposefully maintained brand architecture, questions like this won’t be up for debate. If your event is closely branded with the overall organization, the logo will be thoughtfully incorporated into the visual standards you’ve established. If the event has a completely separate brand designed to reach a completely separate audience, the main organization logo won’t be appropriate—and everyone will be clear about that ahead of time.
Either way, clear brand architecture saves you time, spares you headaches, AND ensures that the choices you’re making on the ground reflect a smart strategy. Win-win-win.
“We need a separate website for this program.”
Setting up lots of unique websites is usually a sign that your team has a tendency to think and communicate in siloes. When you maintain separate sites for each program or event, you give each one a distinct identity—and discourage people from seeing your work as many parts making up a coherent whole. You’ll have to work even harder to help them see the other great work you do and feel inspired support your organization overall.
[Side note: this issue could also be a sign that it’s time to redo your website.]
“Our gala is coming up in a few months: time to start thinking about a logo.”
Sound the alarm! If your team is in the habit of making logos and coming up with names for lots of events or programs or initiatives, odds are good that you’re creating unnecessary confusion and weakening your overall brand impression.
That’s not to say that you can’t have special treatments for certain programs or a distinct look and feel for your big event—but it’s important to be strategic about it. Well-developed brand architecture strategy usually includes clear criteria for when it’s appropriate to stretch your brand and how far (e.g., a customized name or theme might be okay—but not a separate logo).
When you allow key programs to take on lives (and messages and audiences) of their own without thoughtfully connecting them to your organization’s overall brand, you’re missing an opportunity—and you’re making it all too easy to stay lost in the shuffle of great causes. Strategic brands with clear hierarchy, a consistent look, and a unified message have a leg up in a messy and inconsistent world.
Any of these challenges sound familiar? If so, it might be time to step back and consider whether you have a problem with your brand architecture (it happens to the best of us—check out this helpful piece by fellow Duck Ally Dommu on some of the causes of brand architecture issues).
On November 11, Sarah Durham, Big Duck's CEO, and Debi Goldberg, The Union for Reform Judaism's Director of Communications, will be speaking about brand architecture and sharing an in depth case study with tips. Details are online here, or just let us know if you can't make it and we'll share the resources.
- Six Steps to Achieve the Joys of Serverless Architectures
By Matt Lancaster, Practice Lead, Accenture - Wednesday Jun 14, 2017
The are solid benefits in a move to a serverless architecture, but remember these six important considerations to undertake before going serverless.