Your brand is much more than your name, logo, or wordmark. I can however, understand the confusion. Too often we see big companies “re-brand” and just smooth out an old logo or add a new tagline to corporate letterhead.
From my perspective however, a name, logo and wordmark are part of a brand, but it is much more than the sum of these parts. A good brand also encompasses Principles. Personality. Purpose.
A brand is like a company’s DNA – something that guides WHO you are, WHAT you do, WHY and HOW you do it.
A perfect example of this is the recent consulting Creative Direction and branding for the pride & remembrance run. Let’s take a look at the process and see why there is so much more than a logo involved.
Strategy & Positioning
The first step of any branding project is a guided strategic process via questionnaires and interviews to determine the background, goals and positioning keywords for the development of a Brand Brief.
Working closely with the Board of Directors, Founder and several key sponsors, we created this brand brief to put into words and visuals a Brand Platform, Personality and Opportunity that are important in establishing the goals of the process and guide all future branded decisions.
For the pride & remembrance run, this Platform included (in part)-
pride - We promise credibility & responsibility within our LGBTQ+ community
remembrance - We are united & strong in the context of our past to celebrate our future
run - We believe in the positive power of sport to encourage health, wellness & fun
This Platform goes beyond the typical Mission and Vision, and encompasses the brand persona and aspirational aspects. These words become the drivers for everything to follow.
From this Strategy & Positioning foundation, the WHO of any brand is where I always begin. WHO are the brand’s stakeholders? WHO is in the brand’s current market? WHO isn’t? WHO are the brand’s Competitors? WHO are potential brand partners?
The pride & remembrance run is a unique event- one which includes Olympic athletes and very fast sub-elite runners, every Toronto running crew, first time runners in rainbow costumes, families with children and supporters from the incredible and inclusive LGBTQ. In it’s 24th year, the pride & remembrance run has a strong legacy and history that likewise demanded respect and attention.
For the pride & remembrance run, balancing the history, community and independent nature of the event with the athletic and performance aspects were key to ensure the brand speaks for itself in the right voice and resonates with the people it is speaking to. Finding additional voices to “speak for the brand” is just as important as finding a brand’s voice.
As consulting Creative Director a huge part of my job is to not only provide tangible deliverables (logos, documents, graphics, etc.) but also identify strategic opportunities, and manage relationships.
For pride & remembrance run, my initial brand development proposal included 5 new strategic relationship opportunities that would help position the brand -
Sponsorship by BlackToe Running, one of Toronto’s best independent Running Stores, to better help engage the already active Toronto Run community and add a voice of performance authenticity.
Partnership with Eastbound Brewing Co. (also a client) a local, craft brewery and big supporter of the running community who also happens to have their own run club, to create a pride & remembrance run specific beer - fab! lite
Creation of an Ambassador Team including members of the LGBTQ+ community and recreational runners active on social media.
Creation of a Social Community Manager position to help with social media outreach, engagement and interaction as we grew our social media program.
Establishment of an “Friends of the Race” (Elite Program) to invite Elite Athletes to the event to help inspire recreational runners, provide an exciting race day experience and help lift the profile of the brand to runners and sponsors.
Ultimately, the creation of a new brand identity also considers WHO the brand speaks to and speaks for. From the pride & remembrance run Brand Identity Overview-
The pride & remembrance run brand identity is crafted based on the brand platform.
It is designed to echo our DNA, personality and point of view and speak to our past while creating a solid foundation for the future.
It is designed to speak for our brand when we cannot speak.
It is designed to reflect and connect to all of our stakeholders - runners, donors, sponsors, beneficiaries, volunteers and the LBGTQ+ community.
Most importantly, it is designed to ensure consistency of message and consistency of values. Please treat it with respect.
The brand identity is composed of two parts —
The ribbon heart logo is a unique combination of elements symbolizing the inclusive, and united approach and spirit of the event.
heart — representing caring and giving back to the community.
ribbon — representing remembrance, and building on our past to look towards a strong LGBTQ+ positive future.
road— representing sport, health and wellness for all.
The pride run toronto wordmark is created from and by the geometry of the logo (the “p” is the same form as the ribbon, tilted 45°).
The unique wordmark type is bold and athletic, yet friendly and social. The custom “u” and “n” ligature in “run” is representative of the road, and link between people that is the foundation of inclusiveness.
The pride & remembrance run brand extends beyond this visual identity (more to come on that too, in Part 2). From medal design to race T to wayfinding and graphics, all are a considered part of this branded approach.