Strategy Work

11th April 2016

The Architecture of Building Brands

by Ed Vickers, Managing Partner

Now and then we win a project where all the pieces just click seamlessly into place. Is that just luck? Pure chance? There’s more to it than that so we thought we’d take a closer look at our recent rebrand of property company EDI, detailing some of the work that goes into creating a brand with real substance.


There are loads of house builders out there, and they all do pretty much the same thing, right? Not exactly… In the case of EDI we found there was an inherent desire, company-wide, to not only design and build great buildings, but leave a lasting legacy as well.

Getting to know our clients, understanding what they do and most importantly, why they do it is so important when creating a successful brand. Recognised brand theory says that people don’t really buy what you do, they buy why you do it and that’s a crucial distinction to understand when embarking on building a brand. It’s why Apple are so successful.

Look around you right now, chances are there is an Apple product somewhere in your vicinity but exactly why are they so popular? Apple have created a desirable brand not by selling a product but by telling people what they want to do in the world and why they make their products the way they do. For the right person this either consciously or subconsciously, draws consumers to their brand, connecting with them emotionally and then making them pay a premium for the pleasure of ownership. Of course Apple doesn’t make that connection with everyone but that’s ok, they already understand they’re not trying to talk to everyone.

We approach all our branding projects from that standpoint but it’s rare to be given total freedom to develop a brand in partnership with the client, one where there are no boundaries.


Initially we spent time with their management team, stripping the company right back to it’s origins to uncover why they were first created and what their ambitions are. No stone was left unturned, we looked at everything from how they develop the properties, their potential buyers, current and future projects right through to the desired legacy work. We didn’t only focus on the management team though, we also included the finance, legal and construction guys too. We needed to capture everyone’s views because everyone is so invested in the business and we had to make sure they understood the process and what we were trying to achieve in order to gain their complete buy-in.

This is a key stage of any rebrand as the people in your business will always be the strongest and most enthusiastic brand ambassadors.

These workshop sessions were critical for us to gain insight and understanding into the passion and enthusiasm the client had for not just creating large scale new building developments in Edinburgh, but ensuring that the infrastructure and services actually enhanced the final project. They care deeply about the future of Edinburgh and they want to leave a legacy of something better than what was already there.

From these discussions, we distilled down the information we had from the team, creating a vision that reflected their core belief:

To build Edinburgh’s world status as an aspirational place to live and breathe.

This was supported by their mission statement, which served to define the scope of all their future projects:

To maximize the positive impact of surplus council land & buildings by creating considered and inspirational spaces for Edinburgh’s workers, residents and global visitors.

Now we knew the direction for what they wanted to achieve and how they were going to do it. The next stage was to run a series of future-think workshops with them, exploring how their mission and vision translates into a commercial setting and how we use them to bring market advantage. It’s fair to say these workshops were very successful, everyone left really energised and with a crystal clear understanding of how the company would move forward in both business and marketing directions.

This strategy work, once approved by the client, formed the basis of the design brief for our creative guys. Having this clear strategy, they could fully and easily immerse themselves in the EDI story and gain a true understanding of the intricacies of what was important to the client. It also meant that the design treatment we presented was built on the back of the strong foundations the strategic work had created.

It’s worth noting that taking the client on a journey of discovery and helping them unearth their own vision and values helps eliminate any debate around the creative as it’s based on fact and knowledge. It stops being subjective and so comments like “I don’t like blue” or “I think the logo should be a unicorn” don’t crop up.

The designs created by our Creative Director, Kristian felt like a seamless, natural progression of the work we’d been doing with EDI from the start. They complimented and reinforced the values and vision of the company and answered the most important question we always ask our clients at the beginning of our journey with them. Why do you exist? And why should anyone care?





Ed Vickers, Managing Partner

The Architecture of Building Brands