Having a clear brand identity creates a continuity of experience for consumers, enabling an authentic connection to the craft activities and social values of a crafts-based social enterprise (CBSE).

Throughout this insight series we will take a look at some of our Craft Network members who have developed brand identities which effectively communicate their core values as a social business and reflect the crafts-based activities in which they engage. In particular, we will explore the use of traditional symbols and motifs within a brand identity to create a direct and clear reference to local cultural, social and environmental values.

A brand often consists of a number of different components, such as the business name, logo, typeface, tone / voice, tagline, etc. which, in collective and consistent application, create a brand identity. For a brand to create a strong sense of authenticity, it is how effectively these components resonate and reflect the core values of the business.

A brand identity has the opportunity to reflect and communicate the diverse and nuanced characteristics of a producer and the origins of their crafted product; such as heritage, generational traditions, social conventions, landscapes, natural resources, local technologies, and more.

What this means for ethical and fair trade producers is that a brand identity provides the opportunity to create an authentic and transparent point of engagement with consumers which extends beyond the crafted object to the spaces and moments in which the object will exist.

This also helps makes clear the ongoing actions and impact of a social enterprise beyond the crafted object and the purchase of the consumer. An effective brand identity enables a continual dialogue with the consumer, allowing social enterprises to continually raise awareness of their values and their mission.

How can a brand identity be created which authentically reflects the craft activities and social values of an enterprise?

The examples we will explore create a direct reference to the craft practices of the social enterprise through the use of symbols and motifs; these design elements being tied to cultural origins and materialised in the crafted products. We will also see how the use of local scripts and languages may be used to create a connection to place and encourage greater accessibility to those which the identity represents.

The difference between a symbol and motif can be understood quite simply in design terms:

  • a symbol is iconic, often used in a singular form, and connects to its origins through its metaphoric or symbolic value. The value or meaning of a symbol is often not recognised or translated as it is transferred to different contexts.
  • a motif is repetitive, creating a pattern. On the yardage of a textile – like the hand woven naga design from Ock Pop Tok in the image above – the repetition of a motif creates a decorative effect which references a larger structural or thematic intent. A motif is also likely to represent something of meaning to its local origin, which is often not recognised or translated as it is transferred to different contexts.

Whilst the application of symbols and motifs may appear to be purely decorative, just like craft, decorating is a process of reaffirming local connections: creating a sense of place and identity.

Each insight provided by our Craft Network members will explore how they have crafted their brand identities to reflect their craft practices and the ethical values which drive the purpose behind their social enterprise. As a result, we will learn how brand identities can add value to an ethical and fair trade enterprise through continuing the dialogue between the producer and consumer; enabling a dynamic, authentic and transparent reflection of their producers.

Feature image by The Décologist | Naga silk wall-hanging by Ock Pop Tok, Luang Prabang, Laos

Posted by:Alexandra Sommer