It seems as though the internet has given rise to lots of terms that never really existed before. It’s almost as though someone becomes an influencer in some niche area, then invents some sort of term or meme that causes significant numbers of people to begin thinking they’re enlightened words of wisdom. Before long, others have jumped on the trend with their own versions of the same thing.
For me, branding frameworks fall into this category — or at least the term itself does. All these so-called frameworks are variations of what previously might have been chalked up to the common sense that comes with experience, like researching the situation; carefully assessing the company, its personality, and its objectives; carefully looking at the target audiences and strategizing about how they can best be engaged; discovering and using any insights obtained through this process to develop unique tactics tailored to the situation; engaging employees to adopt and champion the brand; tying products or services into the brand and positioning them as the face of the brand; and, of course, there are all the visuals that go along with it, like logos, colors and typefaces, etc.; and finally, constant evaluation of results and making adjustments as needed.
It would be easy to add steps to that process, subdivide others, and reorder a few things, but in the end, there is no one-size-fits-all framework. It’s largely a matter of common sense and thinking through the problem from beginning to end in the same way a general might plan out a military strategy, along with contingency plans to implement when things go wrong. One of the worst things a designer can do, in my opinion, is begin thinking along the lines of formula-based strategies and tactics, like so many MBA schools teach a person to do.
All the pie charts, venn diagrams, and sequential breakdowns, in my opinion, might be interesting, but the more complicated they get, the more I’m inclined to dismiss them as too codified, inflexible and dogmatic to be useful. I’m not suggesting they be ignored. They’re all useful in the sense that they reflect someone’s thoughts on how to go about different types of branding, but in my opinion, it’s more important to learn from all of them and then use that information as might be appropriate for each unique situation.