Branding a library or an author is currently a hotly debated topic. Can an author be a brand? Can a library be ‘imbued’ with values in the same way as a product brand? How do we define the term ‘brand’, is there more to it than the Trade Marks Act?
To me an organization like the library works with its corporate identity and its corporate image which consequently forms the ‘brand’ for example the brand Stockholm Public Library.
For a period of over five years Stockholm Public Library has worked with modernising and accentuating our corporate identity and our corporate image. The corporate identity is the sum total of the organization’s services, products, quality, working environment, communication, behaviour and policies, in short ‘the soul of the organization’ and the corporate image is how the organization is perceived.
Even if the term ‘corporate’ is used it is applicable to all kinds of organizational structure as government, political and charitable organizations. In the following I will show you some examples of how we have worked with our corporate identity and the corporate image focusing on our external communication.
Profile, identity and image
When a business or organization has been around for a long time and a gradual change of task has taken place and without any particular attention to external communication we need to stop for a moment and take a deep breath, gather the organisation together and make a fresh, consolidated start. We need to discuss our ‘identity’ (our own image of ourselves) and our ‘profile’ (our desired image of ourselves). Do we all see our assignment in the same way, how do we experience our reality and the world around us, what kind of internal organisational culture do we have, who are the ‘customers’ what do they want from us and how is our quality measured? We have to prioritize and allocate time for internal and external discussion and customer surveys.
At Stockholm Public Library it resulted in unifying our values, briefly expressed as:
These sound like nice words randomly chosen, but the words/values must be honest and deeply rooted in the organisation. They govern how we act, how we receive our visitors, how our environments communicate. Internally we must “practise what we preach”, i.e. the staff, managers and senior managements should be welcoming and visible.
When we develop new services, products or planning a new library we must think ‘welcoming’, ‘accessible’, ‘modern’, ‘visible’ and ‘important’. How can the Stockholm Library card be more accessible, more modern, more welcoming? During interesting discussions new ideas emerge.Why not produce a tactile card, executed in a more cheerful and welcoming colour and why not transparent in a modern way.
Brand awareness – brand image Are you aware of your customers’ perception of your organization or ‘brand’? Is there a gap between the ‘brand awareness’ (the knowledge the surrounding world has of us) and the ‘brand image’ (the image the surrounding world has of us) then you need to minimize it. Many of those who visit the library regularly have ‘lived’ the changes but what about the ‘non-visitors’? How do we attract and reach new visitors despite their preconceived notions. Furthermore, if the library was uninteresting before, why should they bother now?
We need to communicate with people outside the library’s walls and we need to make them realise that today we have contemporary libraries with all sorts of services.We need to reposition – quite simply to modernise the library’s image.
But how do we reach the target audiences especially the non-visitors? Using a visual identity, a graphic design, based on values, is an effective tool for cutting through the plethora of information and makes us stand out from the crowd. If they noticed that we have repositioned, we might get the opportunity to ‘show’ them our modern Library and hopefully we will be able to minimize the gap between brand awareness and brand image.
The visual identity is a graphic design that has not been developed just to look good, but rather to communicate. As Stockholm Public Library network includes 44 libraries we needed a graphic design that accepts local adaptations, though with the same common expression. It has to be cheap to produce and easy to use without the staff having to be graphic designers.
For over a year we worked with interviews, various focus groups and surveys and printed the Stockholm Public Library’s visual identity. A toolbox was produced with a number of components, illustrations of which are shown above, along with interior fitting modules to use on the actual library premises.
To be able to strengthen the local library’s speciality, we have chosen to develop a number of modules, from which the staff themselves choose what they feel fits their library’s environment. The toolbox has been gradually extended to include several more modules and new ideas.Within the next two years I think the time will be right to measure the results.
The sender of the communication is most important.We always use the same sender irrespective of which library is communicating. Local material is supplemented by the address of the sender in a fixed place.
2. Typography – Biblio
For reasons of both accessibility and visibility, we have chosen to develop a new font. In all our communication, advertisements, logotype, indoor and outdoor signs, we now use the Biblio font.
3. Advertisements and posters
So that our advertisements stand out even more from the crowd ‘visibility’, we put the symbol on a black background. A newspaper reader does not spend more than a few seconds looking at advertisements and since our budget does not stretch to advertising very frequently, we need to grasp every opportunity in sight. Our posters have to be easy to make. A wizard is connected with the intranet where the organization can produce their own posters, change colours, pictures and text. As we have about 6,000 programmes a year it is essential that we find easy ways of producing locally.
Our basic colours are black and white. All signage adheres to the principle, but in printed matter, posters, bags, library cards, we need to ‘lighten things up’ using modern colours.We use two scales: classic colours and fashionable colours. As regards fashionable colours, we choose a colour scheme each season which we use on consumables.We use classic colours on material of a more long-term nature.
5. Design elements
Libraries are well-known for their strange letter combinations.We have therefore chosen to make these into visible and hopefully humorous design elements as text on decorative window film, book covers, bags, pens, erasers, etc.
6. Campaign identity
When we are campaigning we want it to be quite evident that this is a special campaign, as well as easy to connect with our logotype.
Eva Anzelius Jonson
Stockholm City Library
eva.anzeliusjonson AT kultur.stockholm.se
Translated by Gary Watson