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A Strategic Brand Spectrum Reboot for Corbis
Canadian licensed-imagery agency Veer had merged into Bill Gate’s agency Corbis, resulting in a morass of branded image collections that would have to be folded into an entirely reassessed brand spectrum. Fundamental to this was the disruptive explosion of peer-to-peer digital image sharing and microstock websites. In response, traditional image licensing firms began to concentrate their focus on best-in-class offerings for solid production budgets. I began working with Corbis Creative Director Jens de Gruyter to reorganize and rebrand their premium photography collections into a sensible brand spectrum structured by stylistic approach, thus complementing the agency-side creative process. We audited the existing brands brought together under the merger. We found an array of inward-facing, redundant brands where client-facing brands were needed. We simplified the brand spectrum by rooting it in the top-level client search criteria driving the majority of professional image searches, reducing it to four distinct offerings.
Corbis Brand Audit Circa 2008
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Collections were divided on the top level by audience and usage license: specialist and generalist collections. Each brand collection would offer both rights-managed and royalty-free images. We were concerned with the generalist collections and how best to brand these to the creative professional market. My experience came mostly from the agency side; I was all too familiar with the frustration of time-consuming image searches. More efficient searches could be performed from within categories that each reflected the specific conceptual approach associated with the client’s art-direction strategy. To achieve this, we composed a three-tiered product spectrum built upon the three core stylistic approaches to photography found in contemporary marketing campaigns: 1) conceptual; 2) aspirational; 3) documentarian. For each of these fundamental directions we would provide a brand.
Proposed Corbis Brand Spectrum
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A great amount of process was now put into refining our strategy, depicting its facets and dynamic functionality and conducting a series of key presentations to executive decision-makers. This material was the precursor to the actual brand charters. The three brands were ultimately renamed Crush (conceptual), Ivy (aspirational) and Blink (documentary). Months of groundwork finally paid off.
To correctly implement the brands across a vast enterprise, it was essential that the brand attributes be clearly communicated and that all participants develop a good instinct for the conceptual distinctions that categorize each brand. We created brand charters to be distributed to internal art directors and photo editors and external art directors and contributing photographers. This was conveyed through a strategic mission statement, mood-words and mood-board imagery, attribute keywords, inspirational examples in the industry and key images. Our goal was to convey the essence of each brand in a concise manner within a very brief document.