This section includes specific information on Branding, and on how to incorporate the UNESCO-IFLA InfoLit Logo. Information about the logo was discussed at the beginning of the book and details of the adoption are included in one of the appendices. Libraries are undertaking real and profound transformations trying to respond to the new environment and new needs of their users. But it is not enough to install new information technologies, implement new services, and to work with new attitudes, it is necessary that users be told about it in an effective and motivating way.

Branding is, as part of the marketing process, a tool that libraries can use to promote their services and products systematically and effectively. It also applies for libraries’ information literacy programs. IL programs have gained a growing relevance to the eyes of people from different IL learning groups. So, a logo representing the international concern of developing on the population the required competences to prosper in the knowledge society can give a huge support to your brand and to your branding efforts.

5.1. Non-Profit Library Goals - Branding. Libraries have noncommercial aims, including IL services, therefore they need to justify their existence by attracting as many users as possible, and in this task they can take advantage of the experiences in the corporate world in creating a strong image to the customers’ eyes. Branding is one of the most important tools.

Even though a significant amount of research in the literature on libraries deals with delivering quality services and assessing customer satisfaction, not much of it addresses the issue of branding services. As Singh (2008) states: “Branding has yet to receive its due consideration in LIS (library and information services)”. This section is based in a great extent on one of the few books available about library branding, the one of Elisabeth Doucett, Creating your library brand: Communicating your relevance and value to your patrons. (2008)

With the help of the branding tools, Doucett says, libraries can define to whom they want to talk about their products and services and articulate a clear message about what makes them unique and important to their communities. In this process, the use of the IL logo, along with the other elements of your brand, can help you build a solid image of your library and its programs addressed to develop information competencies.

5.2. Branding – Concept. Branding is an important element of the marketing strategy. According to Doucett (2008) a marketing strategy includes, most of them discussed in previous sections:

  • Identifying who might want to use the library (segmenting)
  • Defining those to whom the library’s story is going to be told (targeting)
  • Defining the library’s story (branding)
  • Doing market research to test assumptions about the relevance of the library’s story.

According to the American Marketing Association a brand is “a name, term, sign, symbol, design or a combination of these, which is used to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors”. (Keller, 2008)

The word “branding” is not easy to translate into other languages. It comes of course from “brand”. Technically, a combination of mark, logo, colors, and fonts that identify a particular product or service, but in an ampler approach a brand can be defined as an essential expression of the story an organization wants to tell to potential users.  By means of an adequate use of the branding tools, libraries can let patrons know in a concise way what they can expect when using their products or services. (Doucett, 2008).

5.3  Importance of Branding. A good brand awakes in the user some feelings, usually pleasing. According to some market research in the commercial field, the following are the six more common (Kahale, Poulos and Sukhdial, cited by Keller, 2008):

  1. Warmth. Consumers perceive a feeling of calm and peace.
  2. Fun. A brand can make users feel optimistic, unworried, playful and cheerful.
  3. Excitement. A brand can make people feel revitalized, alive, joyful and even sexy.
  4. Safety. Some brands transmit emotions related to easiness, and self confidence.
  5. Social endorsement. Some customers feel that using a given brand can guarantee a certain acceptance by other members of their social environment.
  6. Self respect. Some brands make the consumers feel well with themselves and experiment a sense of pride, achievement and satisfaction.

Branding assumes a major importance nowadays, when libraries have to compete with powerful information providers such as free Internet. Libraries are no longer the only place where users can go to find the information they need, and this has forced libraries to redefine better ways to serve their patrons. As a matter of fact, IL programs respond in a big extent to this new situation, because libraries have identified that making an adequate use of information requires a set of competences, and that they can assist individuals in their development.

As Doucett (2008) states: libraries are starting to define and articulate their new roles, and they need to communicate this information to a public that is likely not to be aware of the new situation and neither recognizes what they are missing when they don’t use library services.

5.4. Key Elements of a Brand. Keller (2008) suggests six criteria for best selecting the elements of a brand:

  1. Easy to recall. Includes easy to recognize and easy to spell.
  2. Meaningful. Both descriptive and persuasive: providing information about the nature of the product; and providing specific information about the benefits of the product.
  3. Pleasurable. Funny and interesting; attractive, agreeable.
  4. Transferable. Inside and through a range of product categories; beyond geographical and cultural borders.
  5. Adaptable. Flexible and easy to update.
  6. Easy to protect. Legally and before the competitors.

There are four elements that ensure a brand is great. (Doucett, 2008).

  1. A clear meaningful, unique message. In a good brand, customers have no doubt about how the organization wants to be viewed by them.
  2. An attention-grabbing visual identity. Powerful brands have a logo which result interesting to look at and uses appropriate colors and fonts, such as the UNESCO-IFLA Logo that is freely available to you.
  3. Consistent use. A good brand repeats the message over and over. “If an organization uses a message long enough, consumers will actually resist changing it”.  “Consistency also means that you use your brand message and visuals in the same way on all of your marketing materials”.
  4. An ongoing effort to ensure the brand stays honest. A strong brand does not promise too much and delivers what it says it will deliver.

Once you have developed a good brand, all you have to do is to use it consistently and everywhere. Use it in any communication you address to the community and using all the imaginable means: badges, cards, giveaways, letters, lapel pins, posters, PowerPoint presentations, signage, stationary, website, etc. A gallery of applications, using the UNESCO-IFLA Logo, can be found in appendix 4 of this document.

5.5. Auditing your Current Brand. “Before you jump into the branding process, it makes sense to understand where your library is today with respect to branding”. Even if you have been using a brand or you have only the name of your library. Anyway, you need to review how your library has been communicating its story, so that you can determine how to improve it. (Doucett, 2008).

For Singh (2004) branding requires to be established on a starting point, that is similar to doing a complete marketing process, so you can decide is you do the whole marketing effort of just focus on branding your IL services.  The basic steps are:

  • The customer’s perception of the library
  • The library’s attributes recognized by the customers
  • Your own perception of the library
  • What customer attributes you feel the library has to offer
  • What attributes the customer(s) seeks
  • The customer’s image preference.

This information is best obtained through traditional market research techniques, already discussed, which will also guarantee to make the right questions, at the right time and to the right people, considering anonymity when necessary and a correct interpretation of the data.

A simple and complete way to make an audit is to review the situation the branding keeps with regard to the four factors explained above. The auditing process also consists of four steps, each step aimed at obtaining information from your users (Doucett, 2008):

  1. To get the opinion of your Core Team.
  2. Get feedback from staff and board
  3. Get input from your users
  4. Examine all the information gathered.

5.6. How to Brand. When revising the existing brand or developing a new one, take into account that it will affect sponsors, patrons, library staff, faculty and members. Branding means to create a strong link between the logo, the marketing text you deliver, and the IL products that you offer or plan to offer.  The phrase or an acronym, a motto that describes your IL work needs to be a word or phrase has to be short and with common words and has to be related to what you do, such “Learning information competencies”.  Check what others have done by visiting IL related websites. There are many ways to develop a positioning statement and its amplitude and depth will depend on the time and other resources you can invest. It is always important to get as much input as you can from key staffers, volunteers, donors, trustees, and other players. However, it is also necessary to maintain the process and the information gathered as simple and clear as possible. J. A. Keller (2008) suggests that there are a couple of questions that should not be excluded: (1) “What word or phrase most aptly describes what the library currently is? and (2) What word or phrase most aptly describes what the library hopes to be?”. “Once you have collected these surveys, a picture will evolve of current perceptions of the library and how it might be improved, providing you with a basis for the positioning statement”.

5.7. A Participatory Process. Although it is a complicated task in countries where there is no culture about the library significance, it is recommended that you invite and try to involve as many people as possible to collaborate. Doucette (2008) considers that, if you succeed, you will have to manage to work with a group of perhaps 40 or 50 people; you don’t have to work with all of them simultaneously, but instead can integrate three different teams:

  1. The Core Team. Composed by the individuals who must be involved in the entire process. Try to limit the team to 6-10 members, with the leadership of the library director or the deputy librarian.
  2. The Checkpoint Team. In this team a more ample number of people can participate, whose voice is important to listen even though their participation does not mean a critical influence for the success of the project. The number can rise to 30-50 people, and perhaps it might be necessary to invite them to one meeting or two but the rest of the time email communication can be enough.
  3. The Support Team, mainly integrated by people who must be informed or consulted about the process, at certain moments.

As project leader, you need to become a combination of facilitator and leader. Try to make all those involved to feel that their opinions are listened and be attentive to find good ideas, no matter where they come from. As leader, you must have a clear vision of the benefits that branding will bring to your IL program and be ready to lead the process and make key decisions when required. (Doucett, 2008)

5.8. Principles to succeed. Branding is possible for any library and information service, such as IL but, according to Doucett (2008) there are ten critical principles to be considered that summarize the process:

  1. Include your staff. It is important that they feel involved and committed, so that they would be willing to contribute to make the brand work.
  2. Set clear and feasible expectations. Remember that branding is the first step, but not the only one, in the process of communicating with users.
  3. Do your homework before starting. Get information about branding; read books on the topic, try to know about experiences in other libraries, both successful and not effective.
  4. Start even if you don’t have a budget. Branding’s main ingredients are creativity and willingness. See branding process as an opportunity to bring energy and enthusiasm to your library. Although nonsufficient budget is a common place, most libraries can obtain support from a range of skilled volunteers.
  5. Tell your community that you are developing a library brand and tell them why.
  6. Develop, in this case, adopt the UNESCO-FILA logo, but do something else. A logo is important, but you also need a slogan or tagline, finding collaboratively the adequate message can be an exciting and motivating experience for your team.
  7. Relate your brand message to your mission and vision statements. Every library should have a mission, a vision and a branding story, and the three of them should support each other, and obviously make it an integral part of your marketing strategy.
  8. Write standards. Train your employees to observe the standards as a way to solve doubts and guarantee best results.
  9. If you have money to pay, invest it. Even though money is not a decisive factor, your library can surely obtain better and quicker results when you can hire a pro, for example for designing the log.
  10. Branding is useful for libraries of all sizes. A small library needs to communicate its messages the same way a large library does.

Within the people you will ask participate, make sure you are involving the right people, in addition to the mentioned groups, listen to the opinion of older patrons and old members of the staff; don’t skip talking to faculty or staff members that participated in a past branding process; if possible, consider talking to future users; and invite people in the two extremes of the age spectrum.

5.9. The Quick Test. Once you have your motto match the logo, you need to create excellent unified materials, so that your learner can instantly recognize who delivers the message.  If you make your user recognize you, you are doing a good IL branding.  If your user picked up one of your flyers, he needs to realize in less than 10 seconds that it comes from you, if it goes beyond 30 seconds, your marketing effort has failed.  Remember that your user receives a myriad of marketing messages on his email inbox, posters, websites, newsletters; you need to compete and aim that he recognized you in five seconds.  You need to brand every item related to your information literacy work, using the IFLA-UNESCO logo in every media you employ. In the next paragraph are some examples, and a more complete list is in Appendix 2:

  • Business cards
  • Emails
  • Website
  • Flyers
  • Slide presentations, ppt
  • Handouts
  • Pen and pencils
  • Banners
  • Display boards
  • Posters

Make sure to put the logo in whatever the user sees, in printed or electronic materials.  You have use the same typeface, capitalization, positioning and color for the logo and the motto.  Check the IFLA-UNESCO Logo guidelines they are common sense branding recommendations.  Remember that the goal is to make the logo an international image of information literacy, like the Red Cross or driving signs used internationally.