What the hearts beat for

Categories: Community Created by Rasmus Skjoldan
Brand manager, Rasmus Skjoldan, on the branding work going on in the TYPO3 community
“Is TYPO3 important to your life?” This was one of the questions of the brand survey which last year explored the folklore within the community and the feelings community-members have about TYPO3. However cheap a question it was, the group of people working on a TYPO3 Brand Book were surprised by the overwhelmingly positive answers to the simple query. There is no question that this open source project evokes strong feelings and powerful commitment. Part of the branding effort is about communicating this strength in an authentic way.  More than a decade of our shared endeavour of building TYPO3 has shown a multitude of opinions about what TYPO3 essentially is about. While it’s clear that there is a positive dynamic to the fact that many people think and say many different things about TYPO3, it also poses great challenges to the people communicating about TYPO3. This is all a quite natural side to any open source project.

Becoming stable

When asked to answer what TYPO3 branding is about, in a simple way, it’s about finding, strengthening and, most importantly, consistently holding on to a few key concepts. Branding is not only about the experiences people have with the product and the organisation, it’s also about the underlying meaning. Over time, the result of the branding project (fingers crossed) will be that people in and outside of the community more easily recognises us for being about something specific and stable. This emphasis on meaning has one huge advantage: No matter what technological changes there will be, you can relate to TYPO3 as being about something unchanging. As many things will constantly change, it has great benefits to have a stable core. This is as true to communication as it is to programming. Our products will change over time, the people building the CMS and the framework will change, our surroundings will change, our end users and their expectations will change, yet we will always be about a few select, recognisable things.

A strong brand personality

In essence, our brand consists of 3 key notions: Structure, Excellence and Sharing. These 3 facets of the, so-called, brand personality are the outcome of the survey, interviews, research and a whole lot of analysis and hard thinking. These components of our shared brand personality are communicated in a larger system, bound together by what’s called archetypal branding and our own archetype called the Caregiver.   A brand personality is basically the same as any person’s personality. If the core of a person’s personality doesn’t change all the time, it’s a lot easier to remember and relate to the person. If the personality is a strong one, the person has a far easier time getting arguments through. Remembering JFK is no different from remembering TYPO3. Yet, without robust, consistent and connected personality traits, the words and names will sink into oblivion.

So, what’s the meaning of TYPO3?

The underlying meaning of TYPO3, following the new brand guidelines, is to help people find structure in a confusing world, experience true technological excellence - and about inspiring to share. A client should e.g. understand the power of the page tree, experience the real-life benefits of ExtBase - and enjoy when he or she is able to help clients or co-workers solve everyday tasks. Pay it forward.

What’s to come

Overall, the production of the brand guidelines and the position of a brand manager aims to create a bridge between strategy, the visual identity and communication in general. Although some things need to remain the same, it’s equally important that the stories we tell are dynamic and changable. That’s the reason why we’ve decided to do a new Story Book once a year. The Brand Book fundamentals shouldn’t change - but the stories we tell on top of that surely will.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

What’s currently being worked on is a greater simplification of how to use the brand system. Although it’s already been simplified a lot, we have some way to go before it’s accessible enough to work with, especially for people not used to working within a communication platform or via branding guidelines. It’s a long-term effort and it will take some time before results appear.

Giving others the power to thrive

The brand personality is about recognising that TYPO3 is not the hero itself. Our end users, the clients, are the heroes of our small place in the world. We, on the other hand, are toolmakers that provide others with excellent possibilities. This should, in myriads of ways, come forward when writing a news article, communicating about a conference, selecting an image, animating a video intro or when presenting TYPO3 to an audience. Not an easy task, yet. However, the simplified guidelines in the making should enable everyone to help strengthening the brand. The notion of “Building a CMS is about giving others the power to thrive” is relating to a very true desire of our clients: They want to succeed in their life, with their projects, their business or their goals. We don't get the medals ourselves but we can’t help smiling and being proud when watching the hero receive the honors.

Those beating hearts

Remember that TYPO3 is already genuinely real and authentic - as any caregiver always is. We should always present TYPO3 as such. A real caregiver is never boastful or superficial. We’re not a commercial, fancy or marketing-driven software product - but a community of kind people striving to help others with real problems. Let us know what you think and how we can improve!
Sacha Storz did an audio interview with Rasmus which you can find on the TYPO3 YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/watch