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London: Branding and PM - in London.

Branding is important to project managers in so many ways. London is an interesting place to study, research, investigate or just observe branding applications and perceptions - generally, for the PM activity, for projects and their management.

There is the whole matter of branding of project management itself. Certainly its profile and importance has been widening over the last fifty years or so - and in all sectors, industries and locations - and from micro to mega projects. The professionalism and respect are also increasing. Chartered status and greater numbers of ambassadors and advocates are helping. However the on time / to cost / benefits delivery / stakeholder appreciation criteria and perceptions continue to be a struggle - especially for large, high profile, complex programmes of interrelated projects, with parallel business as usual, in the public domain. Hopefully the glass is half full rather than half empty on such achievements and their perceptions? What will be the public's view of projects and how they are defined, designed and delivered - in a VUCA world - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous?

The branding within organisations involved in projects is changing. There are growing numbers of organisations whose sole purpose is in project management. There is growth in departments within organisations (including PMOs in various iterations), recognition of project management in Human Resources (HR) and career terms and board level representation. Dedicated products and services just for projects, programmes and portfolios and their management are increasing - as in software, events, conferences, awards, recruitment, media - as well as in qualifications, education and academia. Where will project management fit in your organisation now - compared to say ten years ago? What is happening to internal PM branding? How will project management be presented on your website?

Most projects have serious branding considerations. Projects are about change and that usually includes enhancing the branding of the client customer organisation and certainly not being detrimental during the course of the project and with the end results.

Although apparently one cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs. Sometimes one has to go backwards to go forwards. The truth hurts etc.

And then at a lighter end there is branding of projects as in project titles and desired image. Do some clients or circumstances desire a humble, very quiet or suppressed profile; or a confident, loud or self-promoting image for their projects?

There can be mysteries about how project titles arise or are justified - especially to outsiders; and this is possibly a theme worthy of further investigation.

Often the temporary title(s) during the project duration are completely different to how it will be known on completion and delivery to operational status. "Project" in the title is not unusual and must intend to convey some special status especially if "Project Phoenix" or "The Millennium Programme" or similar.

Will the 'Crossrail' project title eventually become known by its official name of Elizabeth Line, especially when Crossrail 2 remains in the news?

Some project titles and branding have geographical connotations - such as addresses for buildings or plots as "101 High Street"; and for routes or end termini for infrastructure projects and programmes such as Bingley to Bongley Tramway or South Circular Sewer Upgrade.

There can be acronyms of any number of letters, with some numbers expressed as just initials or aggregated words - and sometimes a selected or preferred word is then reverse justified for each letter. Some of these "words" or letter sequences are meaningless to those outside the particular project community. Numbers and letters can occur especially if phasing is involved or as part of a series - or programme.

Some project titles are deliberately obscure because of security or commercial sensitivity; and so are deliberately supressing their branding and identity. What are the justifications and explanations of the titles and branding of projects in your organisation?

There are some interesting internal checks which can be made such as to see which titles may be used on email headings or for reports or for correspondence; and statutory applications; or in public consultations. One can also ask team members what a project may be known as in their organisations - only to find there may be several answers including internal job number references.

All in all these project titles and references can influence the image, branding and collective spirit and culture of the project - positively or negatively - or often neutrally - as a missed opportunity.

So one may ask where and when did these interests in "branding" first arise. And London would be a good place to consider. It arose significantly through the Industrial Revolution. Before then the sources of supply were fairly close to the places of demand. Suppliers and demanders would meet face to face and there was not much need for identification of product qualities or manufacturers except for say gold and silver assay purposes.

With the Industrial Revolution there were opportunities for mass manufacturing, at remote locations, with an efficient transport system for delivery to consumers.

To build trust and convey reliability in remotely produced products branding was extensively developed and applied. This was further stimulated by space on packaging for identification and promotion; with advertising across new media including in newspapers, on hoardings and on transport.

Much of this was taking place in or targeted on London as the major capital city of the time. The effects are still apparent and being felt today in such matters as the diversity of products and services available, the strength and originality of the advertising and branding industries and in the ranges of graphical and visual displays and promotions - as may be seen in retail in supermarkets and across shop fronts - and on line.

It is helpful for project managers to have an appreciation of branding - of project management generally; of and within organisations; of clients, customers and stakeholders; and within society generally.

Much of this is available to witness and study in London and through a visit to the Museum of Advertising, Branding and Packaging, W11 1QT.

Other cities and towns in the UK have their own collections and displays; as do many in other parts of the world.