Creating a Distinctive Voice
March 12, 2007
Reviewer: Daniel A. DeLuna (via Amazon.com)
Louis J. Slovinsky's superb book captures the essence of its subjects, the field of corporate branding and one its leading figures, Alan Siegel, whose work and ideas have been hugely influential in the growth and evolution of this emerging field.
Since founding Siegel & Gale in 1969, Alan Siegel has worked with many of the most recognizable names in the corporate, non-profit, educational and governmental worlds to create or refine their images. You may not have heard of Alan Siegel, but you certainly know his work. MasterCard's now ubiquitous logo and new global corporate identity and the memorable Dell logo with the "E" standing on its edge - reflecting how Dell made the PC industry stand on its ear - are but two notable examples. However Siegel did much more than create catchy new logos or slogans for companies and graft them onto companies that needed to retool their images. These highly visible creations were the merely end-products of what Siegel calls defining the "corporate voice." Slovinsky brings to light the processes Siegel used to define this "voice." Working with a corporate client, Siegel & Gale creates a project team to examine the history, culture, values and vision of the company and examine how the company differentiates itself from their competition. The team then distills the essence of its findings into a concise "big idea" and elaborates a strategy to express this new positioning. Siegel believes that corporations must speak with a "clear, coherent and distinctive voice", a voice that should resonate at all levels of the organization from the bottom to the top. We the consumer may only see a new logo, but, as Slovinsky demonstrates, Siegel's work involves bringing about significant changes in the internal workings of the company to achieve a coherent corporate voice. Siegel's success with high-profile clients speaks volumes for the effectiveness of this holistic approach.
Clarity, simplicity and comprehensibility in communication are hallmarks of Siegel's work, therefore it makes sense that Siegel's most enduring legacy may be his concept of "language simplification." In short, this means simplifying and putting into plain English, documents, forms and fine print that companies and governmental bodies use when dealing with the public. I was fascinated by the book's description of Siegel's groundbreaking work in this field and the resistance that had to be overcome to accomplish these worthy aims. In Siegel's view, by being simple and clear in their forms and fine print, companies can enhance their image and improve customer loyalty. Amen. Now, if only you can get those ideas past those pesky lawyers!
On Branding and Clear Communications is a perfect introduction to the branding field and an excellent tool for all who are interested in creating a simple, clear and resonant voice for a company or organization of any size. I highly recommend it.