A bit of brand know-how…

How has the value of corporate brand changed over the years?

It’s changed on many levels. With increased pressure on diversity and CSR, people want to know where big corporates stand in relation to their own personal values. Brands are more in the public eye than ever before, which is forcing them to be more diligent. It also means that they are actively protecting their reputation far more – a recent example being a number of corporate brands bailing out of their partnerships with the National Rifle Association following the Florida gun massacre.

What are the main challenges in communicating the Informa corporate brand versus its divisional brands?

We want people to know that our divisional brands come from Informa, so the corporate brand becomes an endorsement, a mark of quality, and as a result you build equity in the corporate brand. It is important to build enough of a corporate brand that it is respected, but to make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of customer stories. As Informa has grown and acquired other businesses, how have you created ‘brand glue’? At Informa, we don’t stand in our customers’ spotlight; we prefer to stay in the background and offer support. We employ what I call a ‘light, endorsing touch’ to our divisional brands by adding ‘an Informa business’ as an endorsement to their identity. We understand that the businesses we acquire have brand equity. In fact, this is something we measure when we are in the process of buying a new business. Internally, it’s vital that all divisional brands feel part of the Informa family, so they all undergo an onboarding programme covering our purpose, values, positioning statement, proposition and culture.

What role do visual and verbal identity play in the success of Informa’s brand?

They play a huge role. People remember the visual elements, but how an Informa employee answers the phone is just as important, as they are ultimately a brand ambassador. In both cases, first impressions are extremely important – you can lose people in the first 20 seconds if you don’t get it right. To illustrate how important verbal identity is, 85% of my time is spent on messaging and only 15% on visual identity. Whenever I hear ‘I need a new logo’, I’ve found that nine out of ten times it’s nothing to do with the identity and more to do with messaging and changing perceptions. That said, you should recognise when it is important to show change, and not just explain it. Most corporates love templates and guidelines, but I often resist them. We need a bespoke solution, not a cookie-cutter one.

How do you keep the brand experience fresh?

Our current identity is four years old. When we designed it, we were deliberately bold, noticeable and even brash. We’re now more confident and consciously dialling back the brash factor. We need a few more assets and can retire others, so it’s about regularly tweaking our brand instead of overhauling it. It’s also about focusing on how the brand assets can be brought to life, and ensuring they’re flexible. Digital is massive for us, and the main channel for our stakeholders, so the Informa brand also needs to look good on a mobile, as well as in animation or print.

How do you measure brand success?

It’s almost impossible to measure a brand’s success! It’s very difficult to show return on investment. For me, it’s about asking what our event managers or product producers are trying to achieve and using this as a metric. They can invest in a platform but it won’t be successful if the messaging isn’t right or it’s not promoted. It’s always a team effort. What do you think the future holds for the role of corporate brand? Corporate brands will continue to feature more heavily in the public eye, whether it’s to do with tax or employee relations, so it’s going to be difficult for companies that have historically behaved badly. Today’s consumers are young and conscientious: they want corporates to do and say the right thing, and be reassured that how they conduct themselves, e.g. regarding gender pay gap, diversity, data protection, is above board. Corporates that demonstrate these values as a part of their culture will do well, as will those who express their values in a meaningful way and understand their stakeholders. ]

How has Luminous helped keep the Informa identity moving forward, and how has the partnership worked to develop a more distinctive brand platform and increase connection with different stakeholders?

Using Luminous to design and produce our corporate reports really helps with the brand process. Each year we look at the business, what we have achieved and what the focus is for the next year – this means the graphic approach and design assets get refreshed/strengthened on an annual basis. We also look at the positioning of the business and make sure the messaging reflects this. The business strategy is clearly communicated and supported by our brand in both visual applications and general communications messaging with all our stakeholders.

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