Brand Strategy Purpose & Workflow

Ben Finklea's picture

I would like to propose a workflow for the brand strategy. While I don't want to get bogged down in "talk talk talk" and never do, it's helpful to have a process and a framework of what needs to be done so that it is useful and long-lived. Let's spend a few hours figuring out the direction Drupal should be moving first, then put the pedal down.

Here's the way I have done this in the past:

First, let's define our purpose: We are working on the Branding of Drupal so that we can _____________ Drupal faster than it is _______________ing now.

Is that grow/grow? Is that why we are branding Drupal? Are we happy with faster growth or is there some other higher purpose that we are called to? It could be helping people, turning a profit, expanding the web, mobile, what? Why are we doing this?

    Who is our target group? What are their demographics? Psychographics?
    Who are our competitors and what do they do particularly well?
    Who are our "mindset" competitors that we need to overcome? (For example, "I think Drupal has a steep learning curve.")
    What is it that Drupal does so well? How are we better than any other similar product?

    What is our definition of true success for Drupal? How do we measure it?
    What is the distance between where we are today and that success?

    Now that we know the target group and our success definitions, we need to get down to the positioning of our product and community.
    What are the key motivations for our target group? Rank them from highest to least.
    What is the highest ranked motivation that Drupal can fill?
    What is the most powerful supporting characteristic of Drupal that proves that Drupal can fulfill that motivation?
    What is the most accurate personality with which our brand can speak those supporting characteristics?
    Finally, write the core positioning statement.

    Usually an inward facing doc (and it's fair to say that most new people to Drupal will never see this group) the core positioning statement is the main idea behind a branding campaign. It's the idea from which all future ideas and decisions flow. It goes something like this:

The benefit to CORE TARGET to use Drupal is that Drupal is the BEST/FASTEST/EASIEST/ETC. way to FULFILL SOME NEED. This is true because Drupal SOME KILLER BENEFIT HERE.

Usually, this takes about 4 hours with me in a room with the senior management of a company. With Drupal, it's a different story and there are many stakeholders. But, I believe that if we try to stick to this process we will see some pretty amazing things come out of this exercise.

After this is complete, that is when we move into the more visual aspects of branding. Things like naming the product (Drupal - duh, I don't think we're going to change it) to the logo, tagling, typeface/s, signage, presentation templates, website design, colors, sounds, welcome email, ads, trade shows, press releases, etc.

Here's the key: every single branding element that we produce has to feed the core positioning statement. Not kind of or sort of, it has to speak directly and clearly to one thing. By doing this, each dollar spent (or time) is worth increasingly more than each previous dollar. THAT'S HOW BRANDING WORKS!! It's the cumulative value that is put into a brand over time that makes McDonalds, Apple, Porsche, etc. all worth so much. Not a one-time effort on a logo or some collateral.

Hopefully, you can see that this foundational work is critical and can greatly enhance the outputs. Get the positioning statement right and the rest flows naturally and easily. There is a lot of detail to this process that I'm leaving out or we'll really get bogged down. I know that I'm going to need to shepherd us through it. I will do my best to follow the Drupal collaborative way.

I'm curious to hear your comments and questions. Go ahead and see if you can answer some of the sections I talked about. Let's see where we are.


This is a good framework, but

gdemet's picture

This is a good framework, but it's probably a more appropriate discussion for the DrupalBAM group, as it seems to be very focused on how the Drupal brand is positioned in the marketplace.

The conversation we had in Munich that led to the creation of this group was more focused on establishing standards around the values, traits, and personality of the Drupal brand so that we're presenting a clear and consistent visual message to the outside world.

Any information and resources that the DrupalBAM committee can provide with regard to market research, core positioning, target audience, etc., would be greatly appreciated. As we discussed in the BoF, the goal here is to work with and support the ongoing efforts of the Drupal Association.


Ben Finklea's picture


I didn't know that we already had the values, traits, and personality of the Drupal brand defined. This is good! Please share.

I'm confused, though, by the name of this group. "Drupal Branding". Perhaps it should be called "Drupal Graphics Design" as branding is a much broader practice than just a visual message. At least I was confused...

I believe the goal is to

gdemet's picture

I believe the goal is to build on and extend the existing branding and style guidelines created by Mark Boulton for the redesign ( and ensure that they're being represented in a clear, consistent, and professional manner.

And you're right, the name is confusing when you're thinking about "brand" in a larger sense. To avoid any potential for confusion, I've gone ahead and renamed this group "Visual Branding of Drupal".


stevepurkiss's picture

Mark's an inspiration, here's my favourite part:

Reinforcing the Brand: Everyone Plays a Role

continuing to build a community that welcomes and respectfully encourages participation from all types of users; constantly showing people access points to the community, and pointing out that usability experts, designers, accessibility experts, and others, can all contribute (and showing them where they can do that)

These sorts of discussions are what makes Drupal unique, let's keep it that way!


Ben Finklea's picture

Very good.

I'm not a visual designer, graphic artist, themer, etc. I leave all that in your capable hands, George et. al. I'm quite content to sit behind the scenes figuring out the bigger picture branding and strategy and have you guys turn it into visual brilliance. (Which I know you can do - I love

I will move this Branding conversation to the Branding group. I'll post a link here as soon as it's done.

Thanks for the rename! I hope that doesn't mess anything up regarding URLs and such.

We'll start feeding you guys with our "larger sense" branding work as we finish it.

BTW, I have a google doc with competitive research on 10 Drupal competitors. I don't want to post it in a public way as it would help our competitors. If you want to see it, please email me:

Bada-bing. Moving on....

I just went back and reread

Ben Finklea's picture

I just went back and reread Mark's work on Branding. While it's brilliant in many ways, it's incomplete. He doesn't address target audience. In fact, he defines it as "people". In my opinion, that is untargetable. It leads to diffuse branding efforts that have weak impact.

I've got some ideas on how to address this problem and I'll continue to do so over on the branding page. Just FYI. :)

Evolving brand

stevepurkiss's picture

The incredible efforts both of you are doing to support the Drupal brand make me feel proud to be a part of this project.

I think the efforts complement each other well - it's going to take us time to do the DrupalBAM and the brand needs strong support right now which the Drupal Branding are providing.

I look forward to working with both of you and everyone who cares so much about Drupal, I find it amazing how much effort some people put into the project and that's why I was so keen to ensure the foundations and framework for the sustainability of that brand carry on when the wonderful likes of you and I are not around and it's just the machines that are left running the world.

4am nearly here so probably should get some sleep eh... gnite :D

Oh, and please do support my new group and let people know what you've been Drupaling today:

Good start

JurriaanRoelofs's picture

Good start, I think what is especially important for Drupal is to not only to market to prospects but also to developers, so after establishing a core marketing strategy we have to create both a regular marketing strategy and an employer-marketing strategy (Drupal itself being the proverbial employer).

I see that in your bullet points you already mentioned Drupal's learning curve but I think that sort of terminology belongs in the employer marketing strategy and not in the marketing materials for prospective clients.

What I think is an important benefit that Sitecore has over Drupal is controlled distribution: they control who implements their system and who sells it, so they don't have the problem of people lying about their CMS-integration experience and therefore failing to complete the project (and blaming the CMS).
In the words of Bernard Arnault:

If you control your factory, you control your quality; if you control your distribution, you control your image.

There is more than one way to combat this, like certification type deals but this is a complex problem because we do of course want to remain open source and that means open.

A wider view probably posted in the wrong place

RichieRampage's picture

Brand Definition
Kind of agree with aims of message although I would separate the brand definition stage from subsequent marketing activity. IMO the branding exercise is a process of trying to understand and consolidate what drupal is all about into consistent core message/s representing a set of beliefs defining that organisation (mission statement).

e.g. the Virgin one used to be 'David vs Goliath'. Sums them up during the BA warring days. It still feels like there are elements of this brand left today which I am sure Virgin love!

Identifying target groups (segment)
I believe we should be talking about not just one group but groups. We can then look at each one of these groups separately to identify how their needs and how effectively they are being engaged by the drupal organisation/community. Whether or not we choose to speak to these groups is then the next task in the process but I do feel we need to cover which groups are trying to engage and what their needs and issues/are across the board. Currently we seem to be either talking about large businesses or drupal devs; there are more stakeholders.

Owners of small web shops providing services to small organisations
Developers within small web shops providing services to small orgsanisations
Small organisation owners currently running their own site
IT consultants within large consultancys targeting large organisations
IT directors within larger organisations
Marketing Directors within larger organisations
IT Consultants/journalists
Content editors/admins within organisations
Community managers within organisations
Designers within organisations
Developers working for large organisations

Think I’ll stop there. Clearly we would need to group these together but we should first try and get numbers of these. How, haven’t thought about that out yet! Each one of these groups can also be a user or non-user of drupal this needs to go into the mix too.

Define and prioritise marketing objectives
After brand definition nailed, target audiences nailed, the ‘accelerate the adoption of Drupal’ piece is then one strand of any the subsequent marketing activity/objective that would follow. Other marketing activities might involve; the retention of existing drupal developers, promotion of new super-duper drupal sites, communication of what drupal is to newbies visiting d.o homepage. Ideally this list is created by talking to all stakeholders in drupal including those not on d.o that we are trying to attract, this may not then result in a dev biased view. How we do this, haven’t thought out.

The results of the brand definition hopefully ensure that these separate messages to separate folk all speak with the same voice, maybe different language but same values.

Once we have a list of groups and their needs (in case of BAM bring them on board) we can the prioritise what and how loud we shout to each along with the language we need to use (tech to techies, ROI to organisation leaders etc.).

One place that this work would pay handsomely is the d.o homepage.

How do you think we fair talking to these groups on d.o homepage? I estimate that approximately 15% of the homepage real estate is really dedicated to folk outside the community and that is uninspiring text.

Ok, it’s business focused and maybe a bit cheesy (but then you aren’t the target audience so that’s OK, the message wasn’t designed for you – get it?) but the site core homepage executes this very well.

I find it amusing/disturbing that we talk at length about our strong community and the people (which of course we have) and yet how many people are there on our d.o. homepage – zero.

This has gone wildly off topic and is my general view of branding, marketing and the sort of approach we should take, apologies if it doesn’t fit/too late for the frame of your process.


Disagree with separation

dougvann's picture

I believe we can focus on ONE single message and then use that message across multiple mediums to target the specific groups that have been mentioned.
When I am targeted with APPLE ads, They continue to stress the COOLNESS factor. I see this in print, tv, billboards, etc. They use some technical specifics to support the cool aspect but they don't try to target the various ways people might think it is cool.
I don't see ads for APPLE that appeal to app developers, then business owners, then government workers, but we know that ALL those sectors and more are using it. The message from APPLE is never about why a certain APPLE product is good for this age group, this part of the country, this sector of business. The message is clear.. Get on board with APPLE products because it's cool and it gets the job done.

It has been said in similar threads here that we need to focus on the BIG STORY and keep that the big drive. You're simply not going to find support in trying to have a core-brand, a contrib-brand, a mom+pop shop brand, an enterprise brand, etc.
That's now how we're doing it because it doesn't work. That is not what I've known all my life. Rather it is what I'm gathering from the volume of experience I hear expressed by individuals including but not limited to our chair, Ben Finklea.

It feels warm and fuzzy to talk about inclusion and not leaving ppl [sectors, countries, markets, individuals, groups] out. But to do so for the sake of doing so is to disregard the business principles and objectives that we do agree on; namely to "Grow the Adoption of Drupal, FASTER."

I'll let better minds than mine back up what I just said which was right and correct that which was incorrect.

  • Doug Vann [Drupal Trainer, Consultant, Developer]
  • Synaptic Blue Inc. [President]

Proprietary vs Open Source

stevepurkiss's picture


Not sure what all the caps are for, forgive me if I don't follow suit ;)

Apple brand as a cool product because the more they sell, the more they can employ people to support what they sell. If we apply the same logic to Drupal, as has been done over the last couple of years in particular, then yes, we sell more, but the investment doesn't directly go back into the creation of the product. Sure, a lot of it does, and many companies contribute lots, but it's fundamentally different than the open source world.

At the moment, the more we sell Drupal as a product without an understanding of how it is made, the more people just think it's a product, then when something isn't there that they want or need the blame is often directed at the product itself, which in this case is just a piece of software code which doesn't talk or have a voice. If we communicate effectively that it is a community which builds Drupal, the more chances are people are going to understand how it works - at least we have told them instead of them wondering when feature X will come out without knowing they can do something about it.

I'm not saying this hasn't been done at all, but I disagree that these two things can't be separated into core/contrib, that's just someone guessing when we haven't tried it/done it/etc.


stevepurkiss's picture

...because it's late and I forgot: if we do then split into core/contrib, we can focus on the fact that the cool place to be is developing for drupal, thus being able to target more of the developer community to the project.

Think of it like HTML - you wouldn't necessarily market one thing to all users - for those involved in the creation of the HTML specs itself it's different than those who want to use it, and those who want to use HTML fall into many categories, just like the do in Drupal.


dougvann's picture

I'm taking a step back on this. I think we're all facing a different direction and pointing to nearly the same thing.
I'm saving my comments for the more recent threads where the topic is more narrow and there's less confusion.

  • Doug Vann [Drupal Trainer, Consultant, Developer]
  • Synaptic Blue Inc. [President]

Doug, I think you are

RichieRampage's picture


I think you are agreeing really, it's about definition of terms? if not ah well, so be it, at least I've shared my view. :-)

Yes we need to define the brand values that is what I am calling mission statement (in apples case coolness), this is different to the actual messages sent by the brand. e.g. mission statement for apple might be 'to be the coolest kid', the message you receive might be 'dude buy an ipod'. The messaging in a press release to investors might be different. 'through a continued culture of thinking outside the box and design innovation, Apple has continued to separate itself from the pack, leading to more sales, profit blah blah blah.' (yes, its tacky but you get the idea).

Different messages all fed form same trough so to speak. If we can distill this brand mission statement into one line great but it is still usually different from what the final ad says and used as an internal guide for copywriting, creative briefs etc.

You are of course the same 'group' being targeted through different mediums, this tells me Apple are doing a good job if you get a consistent message across these.

This does not mean that the message itself or indeed the medium used to deliver to other segments is the same. I believe that the mission statement is what should bind all this stuff together and allow different teams to speak from one 'soul'. e.g. those speaking to developers from those speaking to business leaders.

This can only help us devolve some of the marketing processes going forward.

and what is Drupal's mission statement? That's the toughy!


I agree with everybody. But

Ben Finklea's picture

I agree with everybody. But until we get the branding work done then no amount of talking about how we should do it will make a difference. :)

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