London: Branding and PM - in London.
Branding is important to project managers in so many ways. London
is an interesting place to study, research, investigate or just
observe branding applications and perceptions - generally, for
the PM activity, for projects and their management.
There is the whole matter of branding of project management itself.
Certainly its profile and importance has been widening over the
last fifty years or so - and in all sectors, industries and locations
- and from micro to mega projects. The professionalism and respect
are also increasing. Chartered status and greater numbers of ambassadors
and advocates are helping. However the on time / to cost / benefits
delivery / stakeholder appreciation criteria and perceptions continue
to be a struggle - especially for large, high profile, complex
programmes of interrelated projects, with parallel business as
usual, in the public domain. Hopefully the glass is half full
rather than half empty on such achievements and their perceptions?
What will be the public's view of projects and how they are defined,
designed and delivered - in a VUCA world - Volatile, Uncertain,
Complex and Ambiguous?
The branding within organisations involved in projects is changing.
There are growing numbers of organisations whose sole purpose
is in project management. There is growth in departments within
organisations (including PMOs in various iterations), recognition
of project management in Human Resources (HR) and career terms
and board level representation. Dedicated products and services
just for projects, programmes and portfolios and their management
are increasing - as in software, events, conferences, awards,
recruitment, media - as well as in qualifications, education and
academia. Where will project management fit in your organisation
now - compared to say ten years ago? What is happening to internal
PM branding? How will project management be presented on your
Most projects have serious branding considerations. Projects
are about change and that usually includes enhancing the branding
of the client customer organisation and certainly not being detrimental
during the course of the project and with the end results.
Although apparently one cannot make an omelette without breaking
eggs. Sometimes one has to go backwards to go forwards. The truth
And then at a lighter end there is branding of projects as in
project titles and desired image. Do some clients or circumstances
desire a humble, very quiet or suppressed profile; or a confident,
loud or self-promoting image for their projects?
There can be mysteries about how project titles arise or are
justified - especially to outsiders; and this is possibly a theme
worthy of further investigation.
Often the temporary title(s) during the project duration are
completely different to how it will be known on completion and
delivery to operational status. "Project" in the title is not
unusual and must intend to convey some special status especially
if "Project Phoenix" or "The Millennium Programme" or similar.
Will the 'Crossrail' project title eventually become known by
its official name of Elizabeth Line, especially when Crossrail
2 remains in the news?
Some project titles and branding have geographical connotations
- such as addresses for buildings or plots as "101 High Street";
and for routes or end termini for infrastructure projects and
programmes such as Bingley to Bongley Tramway or South Circular
There can be acronyms of any number of letters, with some numbers
expressed as just initials or aggregated words - and sometimes
a selected or preferred word is then reverse justified for each
letter. Some of these "words" or letter sequences are meaningless
to those outside the particular project community. Numbers and
letters can occur especially if phasing is involved or as part
of a series - or programme.
Some project titles are deliberately obscure because of security
or commercial sensitivity; and so are deliberately supressing
their branding and identity. What are the justifications and explanations
of the titles and branding of projects in your organisation?
There are some interesting internal checks which can be made
such as to see which titles may be used on email headings or for
reports or for correspondence; and statutory applications; or
in public consultations. One can also ask team members what a
project may be known as in their organisations - only to find
there may be several answers including internal job number references.
All in all these project titles and references can influence
the image, branding and collective spirit and culture of the project
- positively or negatively - or often neutrally - as a missed
So one may ask where and when did these interests in "branding"
first arise. And London would be a good place to consider. It
arose significantly through the Industrial Revolution. Before
then the sources of supply were fairly close to the places of
demand. Suppliers and demanders would meet face to face and there
was not much need for identification of product qualities or manufacturers
except for say gold and silver assay purposes.
With the Industrial Revolution there were opportunities for mass
manufacturing, at remote locations, with an efficient transport
system for delivery to consumers.
To build trust and convey reliability in remotely produced products
branding was extensively developed and applied. This was further
stimulated by space on packaging for identification and promotion;
with advertising across new media including in newspapers, on
hoardings and on transport.
Much of this was taking place in or targeted on London as the
major capital city of the time. The effects are still apparent
and being felt today in such matters as the diversity of products
and services available, the strength and originality of the advertising
and branding industries and in the ranges of graphical and visual
displays and promotions - as may be seen in retail in supermarkets
and across shop fronts - and on line.
It is helpful for project managers to have an appreciation of
branding - of project management generally; of and within organisations;
of clients, customers and stakeholders; and within society generally.
Much of this is available to witness and study in London and
through a visit to the Museum
of Advertising, Branding and Packaging, W11 1QT.
Other cities and towns in the UK have their own collections and
displays; as do many in other parts of the world.