Image: Courtesy of Keep Calm Gallery

Brand identities are too often based on style manuals, branding workshops with overpriced branding specialists and fancy design. Developed in shiny offices with hip furniture and signed off by C-level executives. Imposing static visual standards to our culture. Tragically for these brand experts, our culture is highly dynamic: reinventing itself constantly, mashing it up, and responding to responses of responses. Unpredictable and always evolving. Static branding is only capable of taking a snapshot of the brand at a given moment. The moment the new brand identity launches, it’s already out of date.

Time to stop that practice. And start developing an organic brand.

Organic branding acknowledges the fact that the brand isn’t what the executives say it is. Brand is what everybody else says about the brand. It isn’t about a strategy, it is about actual behavior. The brand doesn’t exist in a branding ivory tower, it lives in this chaotic, messy place we call world. Organic branding doesn’t hide in the Presidential Suite. It lives everywhere, interacts with anybody, lives in the real world. It listens, observes, is curious, interacts, reacts, breathes and experiences.

Organic branding is not about silly fonts or PMS colors. Organic branding develops a brand DNA based on the meaning and purpose of the product/service. The brand DNA determines the personality of the brand: its voice, attitude, ethics and cultural place in the world. While the personality always stays the same, the expression of that personality constantly changes. Through colors. Fonts. Different styles.

Think trees.

A brand is like a tree. The roots of the brand tree symbolize the purpose and meaning of your business, designed to grow over time. The trunk stands for the entire body of cultural references a brand possesses. Branches stand for each part of your brand personality. Leaves represent the expression of your brand personality. Leaves will change colors, disappear, just to grow again. Seasons come, seasons go. Just like fads and bright, shiny objects. Or fonts and website redesigns.

Just like all healthy trees grow, a healthy brand will grow. Proper nourishment from the bottom-up is the key, and companies that root their brands organically will build strong roots with a dense trunk, creating a regenerative and expanding system of branches, twigs and leaves. Happy gardening.