Ashley House – Well-adapted brand-idea
Thursday, February 23, 2012

As part of the creative brand design stage for the Ashley House re-brand that I led for the Design Portfolio last year I conceived of brand-ideas to lead each of the three brand identity concept routes that I also designed and presented.

Brand-ideas are creative translations of the brand strategy distilled into a single idea. They are useful in determining a brand experience made up of various related and interdependent brand-marks. Brand-ideas are the conceptual 'engines' of brand experiences and can be presented in various ways. Often they are behind-the-scenes only and for the benefit of brand managers to understand what the brand stands for on an implicit level. Brand-ideas help brand managers to keep messages on-brand. Sometimes brand-ideas are expressed directly as a public facing brandline but this is rare.

'Well-adapted' is the brand-idea behind the new Ashley House brand identity. It's an interpretation of the evolving nature of the business and reflects well the primary reason for the re-brand, which is to transform the organisation at a fundamental level and in order for it to become a fully-fledged brand-led business. Not only does the idea invoke evolutionary adaptations of systems, organisations and technologies but the secondary meaning of 'adapted to wellness' is particularly suited to health and community property services.

As an extension of the 'well-adapted' brand-idea I conceived of a directly relevant formula: 'adaptive = resilient = sustainable = enduring'. This brought me to the brandline 'enduring properties', which has the added benefit of the double meaning and can be applied to include everything the brand is and does. I particularly liked the idea of the employees of Ashley House and of the employees of the organisations working in the built properties demonstrating 'enduring properties' (as shown in the brand identity section of my portfolio). To see the chosen brand identity as presented to the client click on either of the images above and then select 'identity' in the menu on the right.

Unfortunately, beyond my involvement in the project, the brandline 'enduring properties' was eventually ruled out because of – what I considered at the time to be – a minor and ultimately ignorable negative connotation ie. to be forced to endure something. Given the overall presentation of the brand identity, I believe this is too big a compromise to an otherwise very strong brand story where all the various types of marks that make up the brand are intrinsiclly connected.

Instead, 'understanding property' was chosen as the official brandline. Although relevant and quite clever the double meaning isn't overt and there is no direct connection to the brand-idea 'well-adapted', and therefore also no obvious connection to any of the other Ashley House brand-marks.

In combination with the understated and conservative nature of the 'understanding property' brandline and the fact that no brandline is currently in use the brand-idea 'well-adapted' risks being forgotten and remembered only as a way of justifying the chosen identity, which I believe is likely to be at the expense of the entire brand experience and therefore of the long term brand identity Ashley House is intending to establish.