Brand encompasses the values, culture, mission, personality, and image of an organization; its differentiation from other organizations or products in its niche; as well as the expectations and mental associations (conscious or subliminal) of clients or users, and their actual experience when interacting with the organization or its product.
Brand expression (such as design elements, identity, tone of voice), and brand experience (the customer's experiences when using or interacting with the organization or product) imprint the brand in the user's mind. People walk away with an emotional sense of what Drupal is. Though individual concerns and product quality are critical—such as "Is the content management system easy to use?"—the "emotional aftertaste," as Ze Frank calls it, and users' perception of the brand are at least as likely to inspire people to use the product, participate in the community, or become advanced users.
A brand, then, is co-created by the organization and its users/visitors; it is interactive rather than etched in stone by the Drupal Association. This is especially true for Drupal, whose product, services, site, organization, and community are constantly evolving as they are used. In fact, this evolution is part of the Drupal brand.
Drupal's brand is in a state of flux, too, because of the recent overhaul the website, and other organizational and branding decisions. The goal is to move Drupal's current brand (as good as it is in the eyes of its most devoted users, as poor as it may be in the minds of those who have rejected or ignored it) ever closer to what Drupal aspires to be.
The organization's critical mission is to create a brand expression and experience that reflects the larger definition of the brand (such as the culture, mission, and personality), and to effectively win over more potential users and members by ensuring that every point of contact between the user/visitor and Drupal reinforces Drupal's brand.
The Drupal Brand: Brand Personality, Experience and Goals
The Drupal Promise: Drupal helps people around the world to create open source, powerful, flexible, rich, interactive websites and web apps, backed by an active and passionate community.
What Drupal Is: Drupal is software, a promoter of the open source movement, a community, and a tool that professionals use to build healthy careers.
Reinforcing the Brand: Everyone Plays a Role
A brand experience happens whether we like it or not. The brand is built on someone's experience with Drupal software or community, for better or worse.
Each member and user can positively reinforce the Drupal brand experience wherever the user encounters it. Keep the Drupal brand in mind by:
- designing and refining software that delivers what the brand promises
- providing clear instructions and user testing on all additions to the site
- showing what people can create with Drupal, whether developer or designer
- creating and maintaining an attractive, distinctive, memorable identity that conveys Drupal's visual personality (color, design elements, wordmark, fonts, etc.)
- using a consistent "Drupal" tone of voice and language (grammar, spelling, punctuation, naming, writing style)--which builds credibility and reinforces the personality (see Content Style Guide)
- 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)
- inspiring people to embrace Drupal's values, including grasping why people should feel passionate about the "open source" concept
- inviting people to collaborate, to test new modules and themes, to contribute to wikis
- showing people how they can become, if they choose to, masters of Drupal software and build a career on it
- pointing out where and how experienced users can help and mentor others
- keeping everyone in the loop by making constantly updated news accessible to all
- having events around the world that enhance the feeling of community, and help more people master Drupal
- using text that is easily translatable/appropriate to a wide range of languages, cultures, generations
- helping users catch the Drupal spirit and sense of fun at events, in forums, in case studies, on IRC, in editorial language, etc.
- maintaining and improving the usability of content in the site, while keeping it consistent with the Drupal brand.
- being transparent by clearly differentiating between what Drupal is now and what it aspires to be, (though branding is often partially based on aspirations and goals, not just current reality)
- demonstrating how Drupal is different from its competitors. A brand clearly differentiates itself is generally stronger than a brand that says it can do everything for everyone.
- showing how Drupal is cool, rather than saying, "It's cool!"
- building credibility by showing how people and organizations with great credentials and authority did amazing things with Drupal
- blogging about Drupal, spreading the word about Drupal, hiring outstanding designers to work on Drupal-developed sites--making sites immediately impressive, visually appealing, and memorable
- writing audience-appropriate pages (e.g. a particular page may be read by a business owner, another by only advanced developers) (see Editorial Style Guide)
- keeping all content fresh and updated
- making sure new visitors understand that they can get in and get out quickly--download and use without becoming involved in the community or even revisiting the site
- reducing the use of nicknames, jargon, and Drupal-specific words, in forums, on main pages, in the handbook, and other places where those new to Drupal might visit (unless you explain their meaning when you use them)
- clearly naming components of Drupal software
- having systems in place so that questions and suggestions receive responses quickly, wikis are monitored carefully, the Drupal home page map is updated regularly