Deep Design: Helping The Brand Define Itself

I found a piece of content I wrote in 2011 to my team, explaining my design approach needs. Although it is slightly dated in its examples (the iPhone app grid), it is remarkably relevant 6 years later.

We are currently, repeatedly, looking at design re-works. This still has legs.



We are looking to provide employees a sustainable, contiguous (yet modular) experience of work from first contact, through onboarding, to alignment with our Values, strategies and projects.

We have new modules in development (eg Employee Value Proposition); and requirements for new line-of-sight embeds / sustainability plans (Vision, Values, strategic drivers / goals).

There is also context around the use and speed of (new) technology, and the (often elusive) desire to obtain meaningful traction with users.


The genesis of my approach is found in this document: brand-as-patterns. [I annotated the document with some scribbles. The italics below are sentences from the document]

I know “branding” can sometimes be a dirty word at work, but that is what we are doing – creating a feeling, an understanding and a response.

I like this Drucker quote, it speaks to the value of work in my dept.


The work of corporate facilitators (like us) should be held to the same outcomes as business leaders. We are business transformers. The work we do is entrepreneurial. We take charge of the situation and drive the business forward. We can play a bigger game and supply full system solutions.

Information / communication is increasingly short-hand; it is nuanced; layered; nodal. Understanding comes from the interplay of data – its curation, not its content. This idea is neatly summarised like this, via @armano:



We need to provide multiple touch points to the brand. This creates the personalised experience people demand (especially in their private lives, which are 3-5 years ahead of the corporate experience). We need content that is distributed and not centralized or singular.

Key to connectivity is choice. Currently, when we communicate, we bombard users with data; mostly they do not fully consume it; the confusion remains, but content owners believe they have been complete in their task of explanation.

We must provide the data, in multiple channels, but we must let the user choose the interaction. The myriad of media and access points support rather than repeat each other.


Our brand identity is defined iteratively through successive release and behaviourally through interactions. We must not ‘launch’ projects, but commit to an ongoing discourse about the work. It is in the conversation that the real work is done, not in the policy / program development.


At its core, my deep design approach is an app grid. The ‘apps’ are icons representing the short-hand of the concepts and content we want to share. Data is supplied comprehensively through creating back-end depth – the user chooses whether and how to interrogate the data.

An app grid has incredible power in the modern psyche. It delivers both individual content to the user; and a robust, flexible meta-environment that can deliver “everything to everyone.”  The whole from the multiple parts generates a collective pattern of personal expression.

Further, the data is bespoke to the user, but the approach is universal. Every app works identically even as it delivers unique content. Coherence around multiple, smaller ideas.

Users have incredible trust in the app grid. We can take advantage of this trust, and the short-hand to understanding of what we are delivering.

Through an app grid we can deliver, as the Method article describes:

  • Artifacts: logos, shapes, icons
  • Behaviours: states, actions, response
  • Concepts: plural thoughts and visions that bind.

We need a pattern that delivers a master plan to create strategic consistency; and the micro plan to create a single relevant tactic.


I think it is time to reshare this internally, as food for thought.

Design matters…

←This Much We Know.→

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