There are three major categories of communication within a
Communication Plan–mandatory, informational, and marketing. Marketing
communication is designed to sell stakeholders on the value and benefits of
your project. Most projects have no requirements for this type of communication
and it’s more appropriate in some than others.

Branding is a more sophisticated form of marketing
communication. The purpose of branding a project is to establish an identity
that conjures up a positive image. This is exactly what the marketing people
try to do when they brand a product. For instance, The Coca-Cola Company hopes
that you feel good about their products and that you will choose their products
from a crowded store shelf because you like the image and emotion associated
with it. Maybe it works. If you throw a party and you provide a cooler full of
Cokes and Sprites, you probably feel pretty good about the image you’re
portraying. If you stock a cooler full of “Joe’s” cola, you might
feel a little embarrassed.

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Branding a project has the same connotation. Your purpose is
to associate a positive image and emotion when a person hears of your project. Ask
yourself some questions regarding the impact your project will have on the
organization.

  • Does
    it impact a large number of people or maybe the entire company?
  • Will
    it require a culture change or a change in the way people do their job?
  • Will
    your project make people nervous? For instance, will it result in
    efficiencies so that less people are required to do the same function?

These are the types of projects that would be candidates for
branding. Examples of branding activities include:

  • Establishing
    a positive project name. For instance, a project called MarketForce, probably gives more of a positive image
    than one called Marketing Process Improvement Initiative. You can build a
    positive image with an easy-to-remember acronym as well.
  • Establishing
    an image/logo. The project should have an image or logo associated with
    it. The image must be positive and it should be included on all
    communication coming from the team.
  • Buying
    trinkets. Put your project name or logo on pins, tee shirts, pencils,
    Frisbees, etc. Reward people with a token that contains the project logo
    when they do something good. Senior professionals don’t always care about
    trinkets. However, many of your users like them.
  • Holding
    face-to-face meetings. Spend the time to see as many people as possible in
    person-to-person meetings or small group meetings, especially at the
    beginning of the project. No one wants to hear all the information about
    an important project on e-mail. It cheapens the project.

Of course, branding takes time, so you also need to have a
project with a long time horizon. A steady stream of positive communication,
combined with the positive feeling of the project branding, will help the
project be successful and should help overcome any negative perceptions about the
project.