Branding our library service

21 09 2015

In May 2015 I attended ‘Brand Up and Be Counted’; a course on branding your library service organised by LIHNN and facilitated by the wonderful Amanda Stearn of Align.  Four months on, I want to reflect on the impact that the course has had on me and my service.

I came away from the course hugely motivated and with the following learning points:

  • A brand is something that evokes an emotion or feeling
  • Library services have opportunities for many ‘brand moments’ with customers through which to communicate the brand personality
  • A brand DNA exercise is a great way to develop a brand for your service
  • Our Library and Knowledge Service does not have a defined brand and we are not taking advantage of our ‘brand moments’

Branding is a huge deal to companies all over the world.  Millions of pounds are spent on developing and maintaining brands.  Good branding is always memorable.  Yet in libraries, who are arguably also trying to sell a ‘product’, the same emphasis is not given to branding.  Why?  We want to be remembered too (and for the right reasons).  Is it that we’ve never had to do it?  Is it that we’re not very good at it?  Times are changing, and the course convinced me that branding should also be a huge deal to libraries, too.

My brand DNA exercise

My brand DNA exercise

So, back at work, I cascaded my learning to my team, and we each brought in an item from our favourite brand, which sparked a discussion around what emotions a good brand evokes.  We repeated the Brand DNA exercise that I’d done on the course.  Undertaking this exercise together really helped me to think from all perspectives of the team, not just my own.  The ‘brand moment’ that a Library Assistant might have with a customer at the desk are very different to one that I might experience at a meeting, for example.  Following an energetic discussion, we agreed a brand DNA for our service.  Our new brand promise evokes the themes of bespoke services, libraries without walls and perfectly poised library staff: “Tailored services in the right place at the right time”.  We agreed some additional actions that we needed to address.  Below is a list of the things we have introduced / changed as a result:

  • The LKS brand promise has been added to our webpages, our leaflet and our plasma TV screen.
  • We successfully bid for funding from HCLU’s Library Development Fund for an IT Suite podium, a blackboard, new bins and a clock to improve signage and ambiance in the library.
  • We changed how we answer the phone so that we are consistent.
  • The library entrance is double doors.  For as long as any of us could remember we’ve only opened one door.  Following our branding discussion we now open both doors to convey that we are a welcoming and approachable service.
  • We undertook a review of our noticeboards.
  • We now introduce ourselves by name when we deal with a customer.
  • We re-badged our ‘Clinical Librarian service’ webpage as ‘Our specialist services’ and gave examples of what our specialist services are.
  • We asked our Communications team to take a new team photo (below) and this photo is on the webpages and in reports such as our Quarterly Report, which goes out to all stakeholders.
Our new team photo

Our new team photo

Having a team conversation about branding has been a really important step for us.  We’ve made some small changes but we also have long term plans, including a new Facebook page.  We’re trying to be consistent in how we communicate and deal with customers and exploit every brand moment.  Moving forward, I hope we can continue to put our brand into practice and become known as a service that is consistent, engaging and unforgettable.