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Ok, that title might seem a little strange, but I will try to explain. And I will say, I do know this is more of a discussion type question, and not a technical question. Hopefully I wont get down-voted...

Just a little background first: I work for, let's just call it MyCompanyCo., which is a division of MyCompanyLLC....MyCompanyCo owns and operates 10 sub companies. Let's call them Company 1-10....Company 1-10 each have their own brand identity in which is recognizable to their audience and all revenue MyCompanyCo generates come from the customers of Company 1-10. MyCompany LLC, our parent company has their own brand identity also. However, MyCompanyCo has never once attempted to brand itself. We have a logo, which is the same look as MyCompany LLC, but with CO and the end of it. We have business cards, which are the same as the business cards of MyCompanyLLC. But beyond that, we don't promote ourselves to the public. We don't have a website (just a mention on the parent companies website), we've never created a brochure. I am willing to bet that most of the customers of Companies 1-10 have never heard of MyCompanyCo.

All the work I do is for the 10 sub companies, however on very rare occasions, I am asked to design something for our division, MyCompanyCo. My boss is a database administrator and has never worked as a designer, and in all honestly, I can tell he doesn't really care about it that much....He's the kind of guy that says things like "I just want it to look cool." The latest project I am working on, an internal blog that won't be seen by the public at all, has me a creative block.

I went to school for advertising, and have always learned that good creative communicates the uniqueness of a brand. It's not enough that something "looks pretty", but it also has to be identifiable...But because our division has never taken the time to brand itself, I feel like I am at a loss for creative direction...Now don't get me wrong, I know I can find one of the millions of Wordpress templates, change the logo, colors and some images and voila, I have a pretty blog; but I swear, just making something "look pretty" with out any reflection of the company goes against everything I have ever learned or believe about effective communication. However I see it all the time...So many designs out there look good, but don't communicate the brand well.

I know when it comes to this blog, nobody in my company cares how "unique" it is or how well it communicates MyCompanyCo. Heck, I am pretty sure if I created this blog in some grungy retro style (which would not match our company at all), most people would think it's the coolest thing, simply because it's "pretty"....So I think that's what I might do, however before I really get into the project, I was hoping for some feedback. Maybe some of you have been in a similar situation?

Thanks for reading my post, hopefully it's not too long...

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2  
"My boss is a database administrator..." Right there is your first problem. If your company is so large, then surely it must have a marketing department. They would be better qualified to manage the branding of your organization. –  Philip Regan Aug 31 '11 at 19:01

2 Answers 2

My feeling is that if the company name is genuinely the same as the parent name with "Co" rather than "LLC," you should do a variation on the LLC branding. Not an exact pickup, but let's say if the LLC's corporate colors are burgundy and black and the typeface is Bodoni, the Co's logo should use a gray and a pale red (not a pink, but a tint of the burgundy) and a lighter version of the Bodoni. Make it clearly related, but not identical.

Since the LLC has a brand identity established, it's not going to hurt you or the Co to use a softer version of it. You aren't going to dilute the LLC; the Co will reinforce it because it will reflect back to the parent. The logo already establishes that tie, so you may as well continue with the same style, just a little softer around the edges.

If the company name isn't literally the same, you may have to add a tagline: MyCompanyCo, a division of BigCompanyLLC.

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I'd start by looking into the business decisions for having both MyCompanyLLC and MyCompanyCo. It seems to be more of an accounting/legal distinction rather than any purposeful branding/marketing decision.

At that point, you need to decide if the objective should be to better distinguish between the two companies, or if in the eyes of the customer (be it internal or external) it's better for them to see one entity.

If the goal is to have people seem them more as one entity, then your goal would be to bring them both under the same visual umbrella. If it's to better distinguish them, then you'll want to do the opposite.

Remember that a logo doesn't have to communicate anything specific about the company. It should fit some sort of aesthetic range appropriate, but it doesn't have to literally carry the weight of explaining the company. For an internally facing entity, your goal more than anything would be to develop a branding system that can be replicated easily and consistently. The consistency is what will lend value to your branding efforts.

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3  
+1 for looking at the business decisions. It could be that MyCompanyLLC is simply more of a "banker's brand" than a public, customer-facing brand, and what the governing board intends to do with that. –  Philip Regan Sep 1 '11 at 11:58

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