Monday, 29 September 2008

Building a Diverse Organisational Web Presence

Here's an interesting article from Lifehack about building credibility online. Although much of what is said is aimed at bloggers there's still a lot of useful information for organisations or professionals looking to engage with the diversity of a Web2.0 Internet.

One of the issues for any significant organisation (especially a public one) is about hitting our 'standards' when using external sites. Whilst we might have procurement guidelines, accessibility requirements and brand/identity constraints which we judiciously apply to our own domains we live firmly within the boundaries Facebook, Flickr and other Web2.0 sites lay down.

Anyone can create a page on most sites purporting to be "Neb Library" but to really tie into the core brand some element of content control and design needs to be put in place. Of course we absolutely have to adapt perspective, level and tone for different media (especially blogs) but we can hope to reflect our organisational identity across a multitude of environments through judicious use of branding.

Branding Breakdown

There are two ways to approach branding - as a product or as elements. It has been common in the past for projects and organisations to buy in a specific brand in one lump, hoping for "brand synergy". This has often resulted in people buying websites as a package: design along with functionality.

This is a universally bad idea. The resources for project sites in particular are often very low and functi
onality is always the first priority. If you can find a company capable of fulfilling the functional requirements and presenting even a passable design you're doing very well. 

The solution is to break down the brand elements into two areas:

Organisational Brand: Your logo, fonts, layout, requirements and framework

Specific/Project Brand: Any other brand elements, including sponsors and partners (subtlety is key here!)

By buying the core brand elements at an organisational level you not only get more value for 
money but also retain your identity from your main website, through projects and even into external Web2.0 services. It also allows you to use project resources to expand and update your brand elements if necessary whilst allowing the development-orientated suppliers to get on with what they're good at - fantastic functionality.

Now I am not a fan of the London 2012 brand but it does transfer mediums well - it can be static or animated, change colour to match sponsors and stands out (perhaps not for the right reasons though). This is the kind of approach we need to take - pulling out our core brand into different representations which work in all kinds of online and offline environments.

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